The methodology for monitoring government bodies’ official websites of (hereinafter referred to as the Monitoring) involves studying and assessing the information content and technical features of the government bodies’ official websites, calculating the coefficient that characterizes the information accessibility of each official websites, forming information accessibility rating of the official websites, and making recommendations to the government bodies with regard to maintaining their official websites.
Web-content analysis method is applied when analyzing the content of government bodies’ official websites. This method suggests that the experts study the Internet website content online to determine whether the websites have the quantitative and qualitative characteristics selected. The effectiveness of the method is determined by its maximum similarity to the ways of searching information used by common Internet users when getting information from government bodies’ official websites.
The content of government bodies’ official websites is studied by means of comparing it to the requirements set for the official websites (hereinafter referred to as the Requirements to the official websites) considering its comprehensiveness, relevance, navigability and user-friendly format, social significance of the content and the competence of the of the government bodies themselves. The Requirements to the official websites are formulated as a list of parameters characterizing the accessibility of the information on activities of the government bodies at the official websites of these government bodies.
The Requirements to the official websites used in the Monitoring are based on the provisions of the valid law regulating access to information on activities of government bodies and bodies of local self-government. The Requirements to the official websites also take into consideration the Russian and foreign experience of maintaining Internet websites as well as the expert opinion concerning the public demand for certain characteristics of the authorities’ websites.
Thus, the Monitoring involves assessing the official websites using the list of parameters, and each of them is evaluated by particular criteria.
The Monitoring results in making an integrated evaluation of the official websites where in percentage rating it can be seen to what extent all the of their aggregate information accessibility quantitative and qualitative characteristics conform to the Requirements to the official websites.
The Monitoring is based on the following basic principles:
Openness: the Monitoring method description and its results are published and are freely available.
Independence: the Monitoring results are based only on the assessments made by the experts who are independent of the government bodies and each other.
Objectivity: the Monitoring results reflect the current situation in the studied sphere and do not depend on the subjective opinion or wish of the expert performing the research. The experts doing the monitoring should possess proper qualification and knowledge.
Legality: the Monitoring is based on the requirements for the government bodies’ official websites set by the existing law.
The principal tool used in the monitoring of the government bodies’ official websites is the method for evaluating the degree of information accessibility of official websites.
The method used in the Monitoring of the government bodies’ official websites allows to carry out the comprehensive comparative research and evaluation of the content of government bodies’ official websites in terms of their information accessibility considering the requirements of the valid law that stipulate access to information on activities of government bodies and bodies of local self-government. The method also helps to watch the dynamics of the official websites’ information accessibility development for individual government bodies and for all bodies researched in one Monitoring cycle.
A key element in the Monitoring procedure is calculating the final rating of the official website content (information accessibility coefficient). Each official website shall receive its own information accessibility coefficient based on the aggregate evaluation of all the parameters. These assessments are used as a ground for forming information accessibility rating of government bodies’ official websites by ranging them from top to bottom with descending information accessibility coefficient value.
The specific feature of this method as compared with other methods used for evaluating government bodies’ official websites, is that it is methodologically and legally structured, and lot of attention is paid to checking content of the official websites for conformity with the requirements set by the valid legislation in part of providing access to information on activities of government bodies and bodies of local self-government and maintaining their official websites.
The Monitoring can be used as a tool of control over the government bodies for guaranteeing that they provide the information concerning their activities. Regular Monitoring will enable us to follow the dynamics of accessibility of the information concerning the performance of the government bodies.
The results achieved through the Monitoring enable us to assess the efficiency of measures taken by the authorities for providing information on their activities.
 See: “Developing a Monitoring Method for Evaluating the Information Openness of the Federal Executive Bodies. Expert Evaluation of the Information Resources Belonging to the Federal Executive Bodies” - a report onthe research work concerning the governmental contract done by order of the Russian Economic Development Ministry and performed by “Expert RA Rating Agency” CJSC, Moscow, 2006;
Methods of rating evaluation of the official Internet websites designed for disclosing governmental contract information in the Russian Federation developed by “Expert RA Rating Agency” CJSC, Moscow, 2007, online resource [http://www.raexpert.ru/ratings/internet/g2b/];
“Research and analyses of the official websites belonging to the government bodies and bodies of local self-government in the Russian Federation subjects for conformity with the requirements set by the Federal Law #8-FZ of 09.02.2009 “On Providing Access to Information on Activities of the Government Bodies and Bodies of Local Self-Government” -a report of the research work concerning the governmental contract done by order of Russian Economic Development Ministry and performed by Institute of the Information Society, Moscow, 2009;
Measuring Website Quality, Central Office of Information (COI), UK, 2010.