GAO Prepares for a New Congress, and the Public Wins

This summer, we took a look at the Government Accountability Office’s website and lamented that the wealth of valuable information on the site was sometimes buried underneath an unwieldy and unsearchable format. There were moments of effective organization, but GAO.gov wasn’t fulfilling its potential as an informative tool for the public.

The GAO refreshed its website  to better inform incoming the members and staff of the 113th Congress, and the resulting site remedies many of the concerns we presented. The search function allows users to narrow down results by agency, topic, date, and source, so if the topic of inquiry isn’t highlighted in a collection of recent issues, finding the relevant documents is still simplified. Hovering over a document in the search prompts a content description to appear. Multimedia is more integrated in the “Key Issues” section. The Technology Assessment key issue connects its explanatory videos to its in-depth report. The contact information for the Chief Scientist and Chief Technologist are featured alongside the reports and multimedia. It’s great to see access to officials prioritized alongside improved access to documents and information. Real “open government” requires both.

We look forward to further updates that build upon this searchable framework and open up GAO’s resources as a great resource for both the public and Congress alike. Have a suggestion for GAO’s new pages? Email keyissues@gao.gov.

 

What makes a government website truly “open?” Contact info? Searchability? Open source? Let us know on Twitter at @OpenTheGov or on Facebook at facebook.com/OpenTheGov.

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