Web managers get wake-up call

As a first step in an initiative to get federal agencies to streamline their organizations, the Office of Management and Budget has called upon agencies to provide a workforce analysis by June 29. OMB called for agencies' analyses in a May 8 bulletin, "Workforce Planning & Restructuring." The overall goal of the initiative is to reduce management ranks, flatten management hierarchies and redistribute higher-level positions to front-line, service-delivery positions that interact with citizens.

There are many variations of organizational structures. So, if you are new to the game of "moving boxes around," the organizational model accompanying this column will provide a good starting point to define what is a line function and what is a staff function.

The model, introduced last week in "Step One for Web managers," will help you understand where you are positioned in your organization and, perhaps, where you should go. This week's column provides further resources, with links to several substantive materials on what it means to run a "federal business."

For those involved in Web work and who have been following the administration's goals, OMB's bulletin should not be a surprise. One of the several revolutions that the Web has created is to refocus resources on product and service delivery. The Web enables the public to more directly interact with employees and reduces the need for some support functions. This is as true for federal agencies as it is for industry.

A popular philosophy in industry is to eliminate as much overhead as possible by cutting activities and personnel that do not directly "touch the product." There is a tendency for staff and support functions to grow. Organizations therefore must occasionally reorganize to reduce the overhead that additional staffing creates.

Such trends, which are highlighted in the OMB bulletin, will continue. The key question is: How does it impact you?

If you have not already started, begin transforming your job into something that directly interacts with citizens or find positions that have jobs already directly interacting with citizens. In the long run, it will be easier to go with this trend than to resist it.

In past Dot-Gov columns, we have stated repeatedly that Webmasters need to transform themselves into Web business managers. We include non-supervisory Webmasters in this definition because, in a sense, they manage a wide network of customer and affinity groups. Whether supervisory or not — most Webmasters are managing large groups of people formally or informally.

As a Webmaster, you probably are not too worried about this new OMB bulletin because your role has emerged as a vital component of how your agency delivers its products and services. However, complacency is a formula for long-term personal disaster.

The OMB bulletin should be a wake-up call for Webmasters as to the importance of supporting direct interactions with the public and for promoting your Web site as the place for delivering the products and services of your organization. You have done a great job. Keep on trucking — or "Webbing."

Here are some supplemental materials on what it means to manage a business in the federal context:

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.

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