Government IT departments have a mostly deserved reputation for being behind the times. While private companies keep giving customers new and better ways to buy products and learn about their services, government agencies have generally made it difficult for residents to interact with them via the Internet.

But this is slowly changing, with agencies from the local level to the federal level focusing on fixing broken websites and building new tools for Americans to get what they need from the government.

In Detroit, Michigan, the city government released a mobile app that lets people report problems from illegal dumping sites and abandoned vehicles to potholes and water main breaks, resulting in about 10,000 problems being fixed in six months. In Oakland, California, the city government unveiled a website that makes it far easier to access public records, and it plans to help other cities make similar improvements.

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