Current information a must

Even if you bring users to your portal a first time, you'll have trouble getting them to return if the information on the site is out-of-date.

Many agencies used to paper publishing find themselves ill equipped for the fast-paced world of Web publishing. Accordingly, Kevin Conboy, director of public sector projects at Roundarch, a consulting company, believes that content management is essential to every portal project.

"If the distribution of information is electronic, but the process of getting the information approved and posted is basically manual, you have a mismatch which can affect how current the information is," Conboy said.

He said that on Sept. 11, government offices he worked with who had good content management systems were able to post relevant material by noon that day. In contrast, it took organizations without content management systems days before material related to Sept. 11 was developed, approved and posted.

Greg Carson, director of Internet services at the Internal Revenue Service, said his organization assigns a "content steward" to each page of its public portal, IRS.gov. That person, often the author of the document, ensures that the posted material is the most recent version and that the information is current.

In the future, Carson plans to automate the version control function. Content stewards will still have to post new documents, but the system will always automatically display the most recent one. "Our portal is useless to people unless they can trust that the information is up-to-date," Carson said. The IRS now has about 135 content stewards.

Creating a well-used, current and full-featured portal is not difficult, but neither is it a no-brainer. As long as you can commit the time for detailed planning, testing and promoting, chances of success are high.

Stevens is a freelance journalist who has written about information technology since 1982.

Featured

  • Defense
    Ryan D. McCarthy being sworn in as Army Secretary Oct. 10, 2019. (Photo credit: Sgt. Dana Clarke/U.S. Army)

    Army wants to spend nearly $1B on cloud, data by 2025

    Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said lack of funding or a potential delay in the JEDI cloud bid "strikes to the heart of our concern."

  • Congress
    Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) at the Hack the Capitol conference Sept. 20, 2018

    Jim Langevin's view from the Hill

    As chairman of of the Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committe and a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rhode Island Democrat Jim Langevin is one of the most influential voices on cybersecurity in Congress.

Stay Connected

FCW INSIDER

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.