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Tech leaders provide Web tips to improving government

Here are a few ideas corporate leaders plan to offer to the White House this afternoon during a meeting about how technology can be used to make the federal government more efficient and effective:

Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook and online coordinator for the Obama election campaign, says to think more like a Web startup. When Facebook was started, it began small and focused just on connecting people -- the bare bones of what users wanted. Then it started adding more tools based on their analysis of data on what people were doing on the site and what they were looking for.

So for a government agency like, say, the Census Bureau, that might mean highlighting age data if users are most interested in that. At the Federal Communications Commission, thousands of comments are pouring in about the net neutrality proceeding, so why not put that on the homepage?

"Some site redesigns have happened in several departments and that has been great in that is improves the aesthetics of the site and makes it more user friendly," Hughes said in a press call. "One thing I would consider as low hanging fruit is to analyze site architecture as a corollary as to what are the most trafficked pages and processes on a site."

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in a blog that he is most excited about the potential of tech solutions that make more government data available to Web users. On Recovery.gov, anyone can figure out where stimulus dollars are going, for example. He said by making data available, new enterprises can emerge. Years ago, when the Department of Defense made satellite information, that availability of information helped spur the GPS technology industry, he said.

"Clearly, there are big opportunities for government to become more productive and more efficient by using IT to do things the private sector has been doing for years, like digitizing and automating paper-based processes and using online tools to improve customer service," Ballmer said. "But the true value over time will come from projects like 'Be a Martian' and Data.gov that let citizens unlock the incredible value contained in the vast amounts of data generated by the government."

By Cecilia Kang  |  January 14, 2010; 1:42 PM ET
 
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