GSA offers Webmasters classes in policy and management

The General Services Administration's Office of Governmentwide Policy earlier this month negotiated a blanket purchase agreement with Leads Corp. Arlington Va. to offer training courses to help Webmasters apply paper-based policy and management issues to federal World Wide Web sites.

The brainchild of the Federal Webmasters Forum the BPA creates a Federal Webmaster Institute Leadership Course Series believed to be the first of its kind offered to the government.

"I'm confident this is the first training course that addresses policy issues for Webmasters " said Rich Kellett division director for the Emerging IT Applications Division within GSA's Office of Governmentwide Policy who put the contract vehicle together. The courses come at just the right time he added.

"Webmasters are constantly faced with new and different policy issues such as electronic [Freedom of Information Act] requests."

The idea behind the courses is not to provide technical or programming training but rather to help Webmasters or future Webmasters understand regulations that apply to the electronic environment and Web sites. Many of these regulations were developed before the Internet was widely used and are geared toward paper-based environments.

"The course is intended to provide information that is otherwise difficult to come by " said Vic Powell Agriculture Department Webmaster. "We want to show Webmasters how to effectively manage the site and meet regulations and guidance issued by [the Office of Management and Budget] or their own agency. The technology has gotten ahead of the regulations. When the regulations were written there was no World Wide Web and most of them relate to paper environments. "

Federal Focus

While there are many courses for corporate Webmasters there are not many that are designed specifically for federal Webmasters according to Powell. "These courses will provide a service and fill a gap " he said. "They can help the Webmaster meet [federal] requirements and keep the agency out of trouble."

Mike Neff committee management officer at GSA agreed with Powell's assessment. "There are places that offer Internet training courses but the idea of this is to present a package deal. We want to concentrate on what is specific to the government " he said. "We felt it would be more beneficial to have a course series because there is so much to know."

Kellett said the courses also may increase the credibility of the role of Webmasters in the federal government. The fact is that "we have a new specialized professional in the federal government " he said. Courses available under the BPA include how to manage a federal Web site how to create a business plan for an agency Web site how to develop performance measures for a Web site when and how to keep electronic records and methods for managing EFOIA requests how to secure a Web site and what laws and policies relate to electronic commerce. Those completing the course series will receive a certificate.

Kellett said courses most of which cost $195 per student will start in the beginning of August. The BPA will expire at the end of March 1999. For more information contact www.leadscorp.com.

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