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Publications & Results
Practical Guides (3)
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Creating an effective Web site at an efficient cost is a goal for most government agencies. This guide was created to help organizations develop Web sites that meet their needs at a cost that they can estimate in advance. Through a structured process, the reader is guided toward a better understanding of the cost and performance factors involved in creating a Web service, and in maintaining an effective presence on the World Wide Web. The guide addresses many of the factors relevant to conducting an effective effort, including defining service goals, evaluating infrastructure needs, and estimating the human resources required to sustain the effort. By applying the tools to a planned project, the reader should have a new and valuable perspective on the process of developing a useful Web service.

The Internet can help government agencies communicate with the public, with businesses, and with one another. The anytime, anywhere character of the Internet allows government information and services to be more available to more people with greater convenience and lower cost to customers. These guidelines were created to help government organizations in New York State achieve these benefits at reasonable cost and effort.

These guidelines focus on one major aspect of the Internet: the World Wide Web (WWW or Web) which has emerged as an interconnected network of information sources located all around the world. These guidelines present principles to help government agencies in NYS decide how best to design, manage, and market Web services. There are many excellent electronic and print resources that deal with the technologies of the Web. We did not set out to create another one. Instead, we emphasize important topics that are often neglected: setting service objectives and policies, organizing and managing staff and other resources, assessing costs and effectiveness.

A WWW Starter Kit
Mon, 01 Apr 1996 >Download PDF
Being on the Internet can mean many different things. For most government organizations, it means creating a World Wide Web site, but it might also entail e-mail, gopher servers, news groups and a host of other ways to communicate, share information, and deliver services electronically. This World Wide Web Starter Kit is based on CTG's experiences with a project we call the Internet Services Testbed. By working with seven state and local agencies to develop Web sites for their particular programs and customers, CTG has learned a lot about how to approach this fascinating, powerful, and ever-changing technology. This starter kit won't put you in the WWW business overnight. In fact, it lacks many of the technical tools that you will need to accomplish that goal. Instead, it helps you begin the process without having to reinvent the wheel.

Reports (3)
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Government is all about information and service delivery. The World Wide Web, offering virtually unlimited access and almost instant feedback, seems perfectly suited for government work. The Internet Services Testbed Project provided the opportunity for seven government agencies in New York to develop prototype Web sites in anticipation of serving constituents better. Agency staff were also stakeholders in providing a platform for internal information exchange and links to central agency databases.

The project report describes the research and practical tools the project generated. The tools include a stakeholder analysis, the strategic framework, an organizational issues questionnaire, the cost & performance model, technology awareness tool, and evaluation instruments.

Over the past two years, government organizations have increasingly begun to use the Internet to disseminate and gather information and to offer services to the public. As these applications multiply, concerns surrounding appropriate use, management, and value have emerged. In so short a time, states, localities, and federal agencies have only begun to explore the possibilities and understand the complexities of the Internet. As a result, Internet use policies are only in their infancy. As part of an Internet Services Testbed project, the Center for Technology in Government collected and reviewed existing government policies between April and July 1996. This paper presents the topics that were considered most important and how they were treated in policy documents.

A day-long seminar on Internet Security was presented on April 2, 1996 by the Center for Technology in Government in conjunction with our corporate and public sector partners. This summary highlights the seminar sessions and results.

This Internet Security Seminar was the first of a series of annual Internet security days held in New York State. For information on the latest security day, visit www.nysfirm.org.

Lessons Learned

The project produced key lessons about defining, developing, and managing Web-based public services.

This is a new kind of service, not just a new technology. The ability to integrate services and information from many organizational units and programs means that WWW services need to be guided by enterprise-level strategies and managed by teams with a broad range of expertise.

A Web site is a dynamic public representation of an agency and its programs. It needs to be developed and managed as a major organization-wide initiative. Clearly defining the business needs that the Web service will support and its relationship to the overall agency mission is key to this effort.

It is easy to underestimate the managerial and technical complexity of Web-based services. Complexity stems from several sources: a high degree of public visibility, rapidly changing technologies, the need for incremental and iterative development processes, and the tightly interwoven threads of policy, management, and technology concerns.

Web-based services can be expensive. Because it is easy to use, people often tend to underestimate the behind the scenes costs of developing an effective WWW service. Even the smallest projects demand substantial human, technical, and financial resources. Personnel and technical infrastructure costs tend to comprise the bulk of expenses.

Managing information content is the most fundamental and often the most difficult aspect of developing and managing a WWW site. This activity entails selecting content that satisfies a clear service objective and making it accessible to a well-defined intended audience. Often, existing information needs to be reformatted or "reengineered" to take advantage of the linkages, search features, and navigation aids that the Web provides. It is also usually necessary to maintain the same information in two or more formats for different audiences.

Effective Web-based services demand appropriate computing and communications infrastructure. The condition of an agency's existing infrastructure, especially on the desktop, can present a significant threshold barrier.

The use of the Web presents new policy issues and casts existing information policies (especially those related to access and intellectual property) in a new light. A clearly stated Internet service policy can help focus agency-wide efforts to create and manage this service. Both statewide and agency-level information policies need to be evaluated and refined in order to fully employ the data sharing and business transaction capabilities of the Web.

Security considerations are important, but manageable. The most common WWW applications (information and referral, downloading documents, e-mail forms, internal searches of a site) have few security risks. Other applications (such as providing public access to internal databases) entail major security concerns. However, rather than shy away from these applications, agencies should educate themselves about both the risks and tools for managing them.

Practically anything an agency needs to know about using the WWW or developing Web services is readily available on the Web itself. There are other sites, white papers, tutorials, style guides, discussion groups, software, indexes, and search tools that can assist agencies as they plan the development of their Web services.