FirstGov to get content management


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The General Services Administration has awarded a $525,000 contract to Vignette Corp. for software to manage content on GSA's Web portal.

The award marks the first time FirstGov has had a content management system.

Currently, GSA employees have to manually retrieve relevant information and write HTML and Java code for each individual page, said M.J. Jameson, GSA associate administrator for the Office of Citizen Services and Communications (OCSC). The software from Austin, Tx.-based Vignette will automate the process, so users can generate new pages simply by typing in the new content. The software generates templates with the necessary code already in place.

As a result, the site can be updated quickly, and information that appears on multiple pages can be updated all at once rather than one page at a time, she said.

"When the Columbia shuttle tragedy happened, we took 24 hours to get up what we needed to get up," Jameson said. "If we had had this content management system, the people who do that for FirstGov could have done it from home within 20 minutes."

"When the Office of Homeland Security changed to the Department of Homeland Security, you had to go to page after page to change that reference," added Casey Coleman, chief technology officer for OCSC.

"The users of the system will be the subject matter experts [along with] the business people who know the most about the content, as opposed to the coders and technologists who right now have to create each page," Coleman added.

The new system should be running by summer, Jameson said. The contract covers the software license and maintenance for one year and includes four one-year options.

The license is governmentwide, so other agencies can use the Vignette system as well, she said. All of the technology contracts associated with FirstGov are governmentwide, including AT&T's hosting services.

Use of the site soared from 7 million unique views in 2001 to 37 million in 2002, a 444 percent increase. Several factors fed the spike, Jameson said.

"It's making the site more useful. It's ease of use for citizens. It's promotion, and we're going to be doing a lot more of that this year," she said. "It's important that we do promote it so that citizens know where to go for information."


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