Usability and the US Government go hand in hand. ADA laws require the government to make all of their outputs accessible, so usability is something that goes right along with that. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs are the ones that manage the content of the site usability.gov site.
“usability.gov assists web managers, user experience professionals and students, and others by providing the information and tools they need to create online experiences that are usable, responsive, intuitive, and accessible.” They have resources for anyone to use, such as guidelines, downloadable templates and documents, methods, references, and categorized glossaries. I found the glossary especially helpful since I am new to UX spectrum and it contains a lot of new vocabulary and jargon. One of my issues with this resource is they don’t really explain what they do or why they are a resource on the front page, there is simply no introduction. Thankfully there is an “About Us” section which is where I got the description placed at the beginning of this paragraph. However you would think that trying to be an example of good usability, one would include as much information (while still following guidelines) as it can.
DigitalGov.gov is almost like an in-house digital agency for the government. They provide a platform, and stand as an example of best practices, to support different government agencies in applying various digital tools such as: metrics, user experience, social media, mobile, content management, and much more. It is provided by the Office of Citizen Service and Innovative Technologies and is a key component supporting the goals of the Digital Government Strategy. Their website displays a lot of interesting focuses by way of blog posts (example here), hosting events and workshops, providing a usability starter kit, etc.
I am not surprised that such resources exists for US citizens and the employees of the government. Consistency of standards over the amount of agencies that exists is hard to implement much less continue. I’m more surprised that there is a resource provided for anyone to use regarding usability. I guess because you only hear about the negative things regarding the government and if they actually do stuff for its citizens, and this is definitely a helpful example. The issue now is how to spread the word about it and get others to utilize it. Since it is a web presence and the people who may use it are use it mainly for web related solutions: social media and/or listservs would be the best bet.