The national Center for Digital Government believes Utah has a Web site that's out of sight.
The www.utah.gov Web site was honored by the national research and advisory institute on Wednesday as being tops among more than 260 "Best of Web" entries from federal, state and local governments nationwide.
"As an organization that looks at a lot of government Web sites, utah.gov is truly an elegant site," Dennis McKenna, chief executive officer of the organization, said during a Wednesday news conference. "It's taken advanced Web services technology and built a very impressive array of services to the citizens of Utah and really beyond the borders of the state of Utah."
McKenna said the site reflects "a tremendous amount of creativity and care for the people of Utah."
"In looking at this site, we clearly saw this is a site that unanimously the judges felt led the way in innovation, its comprehensiveness and also its functionality for the people of Utah," he said.
Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt said the award represents meeting a "significant and deliberate" goal. "We didn't set out to be No. 2. We set out to be No. 1," Leavitt said.
A total of 106 services are available at the site, including driver's license registration, business registration and auto registration renewal.
"What that (honor) means as a practical matter is not simply that our people should be proud of us," Leavitt said. "It means they're not having to stand in line, that they're online instead of in line."
Val Oveson, Utah's chief information officer, credited portal contractor Utah Interactive among those making the site a success. He hailed the site's clean, uncluttered look; pop downs with "a tremendous amount of content at your disposal within one click away or two clicks away;" 24/7 online help; online polls; state government news; online services; and a business portal, including business registration.
Assistance through online chat makes www.utah.gov the first Web site among state governments with around-the-clock assistance.
Leavitt said the site is proving popular during late-evening hours, with most visits occurring between 10 p.m. and midnight.
"After the person has the kids down, the dishes are done and there's that quiet moment that you need to get things done you wish you could've done earlier in the day, people are registering their car, renewing their driver's license, they're going online to be able to register their business — to do all the things that are one-stop that they normally had to do during the day, they're doing sometimes in the middle of the night," he said.
State government, through the site, is open all the time, he said. "This (award) is not just a welcome encouragement. It's a reminder that we're achieving that goal," he said.
And the state isn't finished. Leavitt said it will continue to offer more services. He noted that Wednesday was Day 598 of his 1,000-day post-Olympics plan. "We still have 402 days to get the rest of those services online, Val," he told Oveson.
The site is tallying about 3 million unique visits each month, and other stats show Utahns are using it to their advantage. More than 50 percent of Primary Care Network registrations are being made online, as are more than 20 percent of driver's license registrations, more than 65 percent of job service referrals, more than one-third of the state tax returns and one-third of the business license renewals and registrations.
McKenna praised Leavitt as a governor who "gets it" when it comes to technology. "There are few leaders in government that understand and grasp the power of digital technology and its promise for creating government in the 21st century as does Gov. Leavitt," he said.
The news conference followed Leavitt's confirmation hearings on Tuesday before a Senate committee regarding his nomination to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
"I'm just very pleased to be home receiving an award," he said to laughter from the audience after being asked about his experience Tuesday. "Somehow today feels easier than yesterday."