Web managers get wake-up call
- By Rich Kellett
- May 31, 2001
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
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