Website reform task force gets marching orders

Thursday - 8/18/2011, 4:59pm EDT

By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

A 16 member .gov Reform Task Force made up of new media and policy types from large and small agencies will develop a new approach for how best to establish and maintain federal websites.

The task force, created by the Office of Management and Budget, will work with the White House and the General Services Administration-which manages the .gov domain-to upgrade federal Web policies, and the criteria and process for granting new .gov domains.

The group includes Sheila Campbell, GSA's director of the Center for Excellence in Digital Government in the Office of Citizen Services and Innovation, Lee Ellis, the .gov domain program manager at GSA, Macon Phillips, the White House director of digital strategy, Kodiak Starr, the White House's creative director of new media and Chris Vein, the deputy chief technology officer for government innovation in the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Federal chief information officer Steven VanRoekel detailed the task force's goals in a memo issued Aug. 12. The guidance also freezes new federal websites for until Dec. 31-an additional 90 days after the initial freeze.

OMB froze all new federal websites in June and required agencies to inventory and make a plan to reduce the number of federal sites.

The administration said agencies run more than 2,000 .gov websites and 24,000 sub-sites or micro-sites. OMB said this large number of websites is causing citizens to be confused and have difficulty in navigating and finding information they need.

VanRoekel gave agencies a two deadlines over the next few months:

  • Sept. 6: Report interim progress on streamlining agency-managed .gov sites, including a list of domains shut down since June 13, and those that have been consolidated or redirected. Describe plans to streamline remaining sites.

  • Oct. 11: Conduct an inventory and analysis of each .gov domains and assess agency Web governance. Develop a Web improvement plan.

VanRoekel said the inventory and analysis must collect key management data such as cost, 508 compliance, cybersecurity and six other areas. Agencies should identify websites that provide high value to the public and can serve as a model for other agencies. They must gather baseline data on the state of Web governance and operations.

The improvement plan should include a strategy to better manage websites and other online content and enhance customer experience in using the sites.

Once OMB gathers all this data, the .gov Reform Task Force will develop a federal Web strategy for a long-term vision of what the citizen experience should be and create common tools and best practices to make Web operations more effective and efficient.

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