Who determines government’s ‘Best of the Web?’

Government Technology announced its list of 2011 Best of the Web Award Winners today, and I’m completely confused as to how they came to these conclusions.

According to the post, it’s judged by a “panel of experts on a wide range of categories, including site accessibility, innovation, cost-savings, ease of use and exceptional service to the public,” but nowhere does it specifically articulate what the criteria was, how the process was conducted or who the judges were. Even the press release omits this information.

As someone who follows government technology closely and has beneath-the-surface insight into the business of the industry, I know that NICUSA manages all of the top 5 state winners and is also a partner with Government Technology in other areas.

I’m not saying there’s a correlation, but the skeptic in me questions the validity of a ‘Best of the Web’ contest when there’s such a close relationship between a vendor and a media company without any transparency in the judging process. Case in point, there’s a “Innovation Nation Resources” underwritten by NICUSA in the sidebar on the same page.

NICUSA does great work creating fantastic government Websites with a business model that can be very attractive to government, especially in these financial times, however, I’d like better insight into why these were chosen over others. Contests and awards such as these have serious business implications on other government entities pursuing Web operations strategy, and if there’s not better disclosure, we’re led to believe this service is a superior option to others.

In the future, I hope Government Technology does a better job of providing insight into how they choose the best of the Web, or we will continue to be confused.

If you were choosing the ‘Best of the Government Web,’ what criteria would you use and how would you score and rank these?

About Luke Fretwell

Luke Fretwell is the founder of GovFresh. He is also co-founder and CEO of ProudCity. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn or email at luke@govfresh.com.

3 Responses

  1. I find a similar conflict-of-interest in the way Congressional websites are ranked by the CMF. The Congressional Management Foundation lays out plenty of their metrics, but they don’t release raw scores. And of course, they are under-written by tech vendors.

  2. Yea, these are _kind of_ interesting points, but seem more alarmist than constructive.  I don’t see many competitions or recognition / awards systems in the government technology and transparency space so fostering this kind of competitiveness to be the best should be welcomed.  Maybe GovFresh should consider running a fully transparent #gov20 competition?

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