Put that home page in the circular file

Feds waste too much energy preserving agency sites.

Remember being told to think of your agency's Web site as something that must be preserved for the public record? Remember what a different mind-set that required?

Never mind!

Sure, at times Web sites may be worth preserving, but feds have gone overboard, saving screen grabs indiscriminately, said J. Timothy Sprehe, president of Sprehe Information Management Associates.

"I do not believe that every Web site is a record," Sprehe said. "If a Web site is already captured elsewhere, I see no reason why it should be captured again as a record."

Sprehe allows for a few exceptions. "If the head of an agency conducts a Webinar where he or she receives and answers questions, those should be captured as records," he said.

Here's a basic guiding principle: Items that are only available on the Web should certainly be captured as records.

"The idea that everything going up on a Web site should be captured is overkill," Sprehe said.

Here's another idea: Agencies should archive records before they reach the Web. That's the approach advocated by Jeanne Young, a private consultant and former archivist for the Federal Reserve Board.

Too many people are worried about saving every update

of a Web site instead of preserving e-mail and

voice-mail messages, which are often discarded inappropriately.

Young said a Web site is simply a modern system for mail distribution. Saving all Web sites is like saving the typewriter ribbon, she said.

"If you save everything, you really do lose intellectual control," Young said.