The government operates or supports at least 164 sites that sell something
to the public, though the online efforts seem to be done ``in a haphazard
the report says. The money raised by ``dot-gov'' Web sites isn't carefully tracked, and revenue is either deposited in the general fund or given back to the agency involved to improve its Web site.
``We see some pretty elemental mistakes that would bankrupt a business if it were doing e-commerce the same way,'' Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, said in a statement.
One of the problems encountered is that only a few sites offered consumers
the choice to place an order on line, the study found. On many site, customers
to either call in their order via telephone or download an order sheet and mail it in traditionally.
Another difficulty, the report said, is that the government doesn't
hang ``for sale'' signs out to attract customers. Additionally, there is
no single place of entry that
consolidates all the government's sales on line, the report said.
The Treasury Department's site sold the most goods, selling $3.3 billion
in savings bonds, T-bills and notes. The Defense Department operates at
eight sites selling items from toothpaste to Army trucks.
Seattle-based Amazon.com sells books, music, videotapes and other products.
PO Box 172
New Ipswich NH 03071
1 800 878 1965