LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Sprehe needs to lighten up on government home page authors

This is not written in any official capacity, but just as a reader of FCW and a person who created a very simple government home page.

I found J. Timothy Sprehe's article in the June 10 issue of FCW to be very interesting. First, it highlights the problem we are having in the government with the proliferation of home pages to satisfy the public's thirst for information. It has good points on excess graphics, lack of review and useless information. More importantly, it shows, without any doubt, why the public is never pleased with what the government does.

Many government home pages are done by people such as myself - we are not experts in this field, have gone to maybe a few hours of training and have to create and maintain the pages in our spare time. In most cases, we don't have the time or funds to have these things done professionally.

We are trying to do things like the commercial marketplace, empowering people to the fullest extent possible, but, if you demand full record keeping, Privacy Act info, etc., for every byte that appears in electronic form, the pages will just dry up and go away.

Please don't quote laws to me in response - you can't have it both ways. We don't have the manpower or funds to set up yet another record-keeping system to satisfy nit-pickers who want to know exactly what is going on all the time. If the burden becomes too great, I believe there will simply be very little government information on the Web. The bigger question is, Who will pay for all this recor keeping? If it becomes a choice of operations or records, I think the records and the home pages will go. I don't see Sprehe's article giving an inch. Instead, it's the normal "we want everything." Sorry, but in this era of downsizing, choices will have to be made.

My comments reflect my personal opinions and do not represent any views of the Defense Department.

Steve Slavsky

via e-mail.

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