Agencies to inventory Web info

By the end of the year, agencies are expected to have an inventory and posting schedule for information they plan to publish online.

The requirement is part of draft recommendations released in April by the Web Content Standards Working Group of the Interagency Committee of Government Information (ICGI), which outlines standards for common information that should be on all federal Web sites to make them more user-friendly. By December, agency officials must make the schedules available for public comment, said Sheila Campbell, co-chairwoman of the working group.

"We're hoping this guidance gets out soon" to help agency officials to comply with this recommendation, Campbell said at the FedWeb conference in Arlington, Va. "It's going to take a little bit of effort here."

The working group's draft recommendations are due to the Office of Management and Budget by June 1. OMB officials will then examine the recommendations in the larger perspective of existing laws and guidance and issue final policies, said Jonathan Womer, senior OMB policy analyst and executive director of ICGI.

"The general idea is that these are getting posed by the working group; they are getting public review, and then agency review," Womer said, also speaking at FedWeb. "It's hopefully a well-vetted process."

By next month, OMB officials expect to recommend ways to establish a public domain directory and policies to improve agencies' repositories for research and development funds, Womer said. By the end of the year, OMB officials hope to recommend standards for categorizing and indexing government information.

As part of the deliverables to OMB, working group officials are also calling for the implementation of an ongoing Web content management process in the form of a permanent advisory council to advise OMB and support the content managers, Campbell said.

"We see this as more than a one-time effort," she said.

Working group officials plan to implement a toolkit, housed at Firstgov.gov, to provide content managers with guidance and best practices. This feature is expected to be implemented by September, Campbell said. Agency officials must comply with some of the less complex recommendations, such as creating an About Us feature on the Web sites, by December 2005, and they will have until the end of 2007 to comply with the more complex requirements, she said.

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