OMB freezes new .gov websites

Monday - 6/13/2011, 6:32pm EDT

By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

The Office of Management and Budget today froze for 90 days any new websites that will use the .gov domain.

Jeff Zients, OMB's deputy director for management and chief performance officer, wrote in a memo to agency heads that there are more than 2,000 .gov websites and 24,000 sub-sites or micro-sites. This large number of websites is causing citizens to be confused and have difficulty in navigating and finding information they need.

"While many Federal websites provide timely and accurate information and services, many others have redundant, outdated, hard to use, or poorly maintained content," Zients wrote. "To simplify access to federal services, the government needs a comprehensive and consistent strategy for managing its Web resources efficiently and assuring that valuable content is available online and is readily accessible."

Zients said in a press conference today with reporters that the government will cut at least 25 percent of the 2,000 sites in the next few months, and over the next year will get rid of more than 1,000 websites.

He said the Energy Department already is working on this by consolidating its websites that is expected to save $10 million a year.

Federal chief information officer Vivek Kundra, the Federal Web Managers Council, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the General Services Administration, which manages the .gov domain, will develop new guidance for managing federal sites.

Within 30 days, Kundra and GSA will create task force to develop policy and guidance recommendations. In the meantime, any new .gov domain must receive written approval from Kundra before GSA will establish the site, Zients wrote.

Additionally, GSA by July 13 will make the list of top-level domains publicly available on data.gov, and by October, agencies must identify domain names that no longer are needed and eliminate or consolidate them.

Kundra by Aug. 13 will provide instructions for how agencies should identify opportunities to improve content and get rid of unused websites.

These steps are a part of the implementation guidance for the April 2011 Executive Order to improve customer service and delivery.

The guidance also details several other steps OMB and agencies must take to improve customer service, including:

  • Posting a customer service plan to its Open Government website that will identify implementation steps for the customer service activities outlined in order, including a high-level discussion of the process by which a "signature initiative" to use teleology to improve the customer experience will be designed and executed.

  • Establishing a Customer Service Task Force led by OMB to facilitate the exchange of best practices and the development of agency customer service plans and signature initiatives. By June 30, each agency should identify a senior official, who will be responsible for the customer service plan and related agency goals, to represent the agency on the task force.

  • Create a "Fast Track" review process for efforts to gather customer feedback to improve service delivery.

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