Posted by: John Tozzi on October 28, 2011
Earlier this year, the wonks at the Government Accountability Office looked at how much different government agencies replicate similar efforts. For example, the federal government has 80 programs that deal with economic development across four agencies.
Today the White House announced plans for a new federal website to help small businesses and exporters get government resources. The site, called BusinessUSA (no URL yet), will be created within 90 days. The goal, according to Small Business Administration chief Karen Mills, is to help business owners connect with the right agencies regardless of where they start, which she calls a “no wrong door policy.” The site will eventually include relevant information from state and local governments and the private sector. “We need to make it as easy as possible for [businesses] to find answers to their questions,” Mills said on a conference call with reporters.
That sounds a lot like the goal of existing federal portals such as Export.gov and Business.gov (which has been decommissioned and moved to the redesigned SBA.gov). The White House admits in its press materials that the current setup isn’t ideal, saying that BusinessUSA will “reduce the confusing array of websites that exist today.”
Isn’t building another website, though, another example of government re-inventing the wheel? U.S. Chief Information Officer Steve VanRoekel says not. “We have a very strong goal to not do duplicative efforts across these sites,” he says. The new portal will roll up existing content into a central site, rather than replicate what’s already spread among several places, he says. Business owners can check back in 90 days to whether that works out.