Reviewing Web trends

Review time is upon us, and our Webmaster activities have been picked for

executive management review. Fortunately, the big near-term milestones have

been met, and we actually have the opportunity to think.

Here are some key issues and trends to think about:

Executive management

With momentum building for electronic government, it is clear that increased

emphasis is going to be placed on virtual government. I recommend that Webmasters

become more formally involved in the activities of the President's Management

Council, the CIO Council, the Procurement Executive Council, the CFO Council

and the Federal Web Business Council/Forum.

The councils, Congress and the Office of Management and Budget are wading

into the e-government issues and stepping up to the leadership issues involved

in these areas. Their activities will define the new directions for the

federal government.

Technology

Wireless will drive World Wide Web operations to an around-the-clock

schedule as the public grows to expect 24-hour, seven-days-a-week availability

of online services. Many agency Web operations are still informal in nature,

so agencies must "bite the budget bullet" and make the organizational commitment

necessary for 24/7 operations before taking on wireless.

The next decision will be to choose the remote platform. There will

be a collision between palm devices and laptops as they compete for the

mobile market. Laptops will get smaller and palm devices will increase in

functionality.

In addition, agencies must migrate to database-driven Web sites to deliver

products and services. Information linked together through Web pages can

take an agency only so far. To move into the realm of activity implied by

the Government Paperwork Elimination Act requires the implementation of

databases for driving Web pages and interactions with the public. The public

also will expect search engines, chat rooms, dynamic content, free e-mail

and other features.

Management

Agencies have moved from having a Web hero, to Web teams, and now to

Web organizations. Therefore, it is important that Web managers become general

business managers. Web managers need to develop working principles in leadership,

culture, architectures, business, management, relationships in a virtual

world, technology and policies. This taxonomy will help organize the key

principles for conducting business over the Web.

Also, it is time that Web managers become warranted contracting officers

as part of their program duties for managing Web sites. This is not a stretch.

Anyone who has a government credit card already is a warranted contracting

officer up to the limits of the credit card. Personal liability for contracting

actions will create the balance necessary to avoid conflicts of interest,

while the combination of contracting and program management will allow programs

to move forward at Internet speed.

Policy

Accessibility, privacy and security are the key policy issues this year.

There is an increased awareness that these issues are organizationwide because

the solutions require people, technology and training at all levels and

across multiple disciplines. Carnegie Mellon's Capability Maturity Model

provides a framework for thinking about how to develop organizations that

can repeatedly deliver products and services in a virtual world. Solving

these issues requires the development of "mature" Web organizations, not

just plugging a hole.

Momentum also is building to create a model public use policy that defines

appropriate and inappropriate activities on federal Web sites. As Web sites

become more participatory, fairness in blocking inappropriate activities

is necessary. It also is important to inform people as to the formalities

involved in transacting business on federal Web sites. Fraud or false statements

could lead to civil or criminal liability.

The Nature of Our Work

Our work life will never be the same because technology enables us to

interact with more people than ever before. For example, my immediate community

includes 2,059 e-mail names from at least 1,094 organizations.

In addition, marketing, networking and research activities have converged

through our Web sites. This convergence makes participatory Web sites so

important.

— Kellett is founder of the Federal Web Business Council, co-chairman of

the Federal Webmasters Forum and director of GSA's Emerging IT Policies

Division.

MORE INFO

"Users, Webmasters beware" [FCW.com, April 27, 2000]

"10 skills federal Webmasters need" [FCW.com, March 30, 2000]

"A model for success" [Federal Computer Week, March 20, 2000]

Carnegie Mellon's Capability Maturity Model

BY Rich Kellett
May 31, 2000

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