At noon on Sept. 20, when Vice President Gore announced the release of his latest report on reinventing government, The Best Kept Secrets in Government, the report instantly became available online on the National Performance Review Web site.
That coordination of effort signifies some big improvements to the reorganized and relocated NPR web site. The site had become difficult to navigate over the three years since the NPR's original site went online as the amount of information it contained multiplied dramatically.
"We were on automatic pilot," says Pat Wood, the NPR staffer who coordinated the effort to revamp the site. "We could post documents but we couldn't do anything to them. The organizational structure of the site made it almost unmanageable. We needed to reorganize."
To do that, NPR moved its site to Fedworld, a service of the Commerce Department's National Technical Information Service that attempts to provide one-stop shopping for a variety of federal information. The Fedworld techies divided the information on the site into 10 categories that can be clicked into from the home page. The "Latest Additions" area keeps users updated on changes to the site. The "Library" houses all the hundreds of documents NPR has put online.
The new design recognizes that people will look in different places for the same document, so one document may be linked to from up to three or even four categories. The new Gore report, for example, can be accessed from the "Latest Additions" and "Library" sections as well as from the "News Room" and "Accomplishments" sections.
Site navigation has also improved through the addition of a tool on the home page for searching the entire site.
Other new elements of the site include searchable databases of recipients of Vice President Gore's Hammer Awards recipients, a list of the hundreds of federal "laboratories of reinvention" and information from the Office of Management and Budget on the budgetary impact of the NPR's recommendations.
These sections will be updated regularly, Wood says. And more content will be added to the site over the next few months, including regulatory documents, an archive of the NPR newsletter "Reinvention Roundtable," and an area where users can share their reinvention experiences. Former NPR webmaster Reed Overfelt, who implemented the first NPR Web page, says he's impressed with the amount of data NPR officials have collected on the new site, but thinks it's presentation is lacking.
"I give it a 5 on a scale of 10," Overfelt says. "The site design is very dated. But the content is really strong."