Elizabeth Daigneau is GOVERNING's managing editor.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Talk about a helping hand. Michigan.gov, the state of Michigan's award-winning Web site, has such a vast and efficient presence--35 million page views each month; 60 million document downloads from the site each year--that it has been able to help smaller localities within the state build their own sites.
According to the National Policy Research Council, a mere 35 percent of municipalities and 16 percent of townships nationwide have Web sites. In 2004, Michigan was languishing with 29 percent of its localities Web-sited. But then the Office of Technology Partnerships joined with the Michigan Township Association, Michigan Municipal League and four state universities to help localities use the state's know-how to develop their own Web presence. By the end of 2006, the partnership had developed more than 70 sites for communities across the state.
That's one of the reasons Michigan.gov was an award-winner this year. In addition to earning an A+ from NPRC in its e-government report card of 11,000 government Web sites, Michigan was honored twice by the Center for Digital Government (for best of the Web and as the most digitally advanced state government) and by Brown University's e- government survey, which ranked it fourth for its electronic features. The site offers nearly 300 services, enabling citizens to conduct almost all of their business with the state online. The site also offers language translation services, text-only functionality for sight-impaired users, access through wireless devices such as BlackBerries, Palms and cell phones, downloadable audio and video clips and contact features supplemented by a fully-staffed call center.