A streamlined, customer-centric web portal now connects Santa Clara County, California residents, businesses and visitors to the County’s 55 programs, agencies and services. Almost a year in the making, this redesigned web site provides one-stop shopping for information on a variety of what it calls “life events” – from starting a business to having a baby. And it doesn’t stop there. Beyond informing, the site also provides the tools and links to take action online. Elizabeth Gorgue, e-Government Manager for Santa Clara County, calls the portal leading-edge for local government for several reasons, including its structure. Its life events navigation follows a content-driven path rather than departmental links (though information is also presented by department – allowing the user to determine which path they prefer to use to access the same information).

The site’s content is comprehensive, and links customers to services – even if those services are provided by other government level agencies. The action orientation of the site allows online visitors to access information, transact business, or complete a task without having to visit several different web sites.

The portal, which institutes a common look and feel across County agencies, was designed to close the gap between identifying a need and getting that need met – a chasm often paradoxically created by the increase in access to government information and services.

Gorgue also points to an online moderated discussion group supporting the recruitment of foster and adoptive parents. In providing this opportunity, “we are recognizing the intrinsic nature of government to community in fundamental ways,” she says.

“Our belief is that any commitment to e-government should extend to enriching the communities government serves in ’the real world’ by extending our ability to serve them online.”