LEWISTON – Maine’s official government Web site was named Tuesday as one of the best in the country by a California-based research organization.

The site, www.maine.gov, was ranked second only to Michigan for its innovation and user-friendliness by the Center for Digital Government, which advises governments on information technology.

“The ranking shows that we are providing a breadth of access and services,” said Richard Thompson, Maine’s chief information officer, who is charged with the site’s oversight. “It shows that we are paying attention to detail, and it shows that we’re taking access to government very seriously.”

Maine returns to the top of the rankings after a one-year absence. The state was in the top three from 2001 to 2004, when it was named the best state government Web site in the country. In 2005, it wasn’t allowed to compete because it had won first place the year before.

“It demonstrates some consistency in how we deliver services,” Thompson said. “Over the years, we’ve maintained high standards and continued to expand our services.”

According to the center, the Best of the Web program recognizes the most innovative, user-friendly state and local government portals. It judges state, city and county Web sites on their innovation, Web delivery of public services, efficiency, economy, functionality and public access.

Winners will be recognized during the center’s awards gala in September.

“Our 2006 awards showcase the best state and local government Web sites and online applications in the nation. These winners set the mark for delivering innovative, efficient and effective government services to all of their many constituencies,” said Cathilea Robinett, the center’s executive vice president, in a statement.

Utah, Virginia and Arkansas rounded out the top five state Web sites this year. Seattle had the best city site and Seminole County, Fla., had the best county site.

Maine’s Web site offers tomes of information, links to government agencies and access online services, such as renewing drivers licenses and vehicle registrations, purchasing vanity license plates and hunting and fishing licenses, and applying for a burning permit and absentee ballot for November’s election.

“More important than the ranking is that this is a really smart, efficient and timely way to deliver services to citizens,” Thompson said. “It’s quick, easy and convenient.”

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