OMB: Set up search

M-05-04, Policies for Federal Agency Public Web sites

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Search engines on federal Web sites will become mandatory by the end of 2005, according to a Dec. 17 memo from the Office of Management and Budget.

In some circumstances, mostly for small Web sites, agency officials may still rely on site maps or subject indexes, the memo states. In addition, it collates nine other requirements agencies should already be complaint with under various acts of Congress or OMB circulars.

Frustration with search engine returns is a major inhibitor of growth of public satisfaction with federal Web sites, according to the most recent quarterly results from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).

However, some Internet experts also warn that building a better search engine is no panacea. "Search is, in many ways, second choice for most users," said Larry Freed, chief executive officer of ForeSee Results, which sponsored portions of the ACSI poll. "Most users would rather navigate the system."

Other requirements listed in the OMB memo include:

Maintain inventories and schedules for information distribution and to post that information online.

Ensure information quality.

Establish and enforce agencywide linking policies.

Ensure information quality.

Communicate with the public and state and local government officials to meet their information needs.

Use .gov, .mil or .fed.us domains.

Implement security controls.

Protect privacy.

Comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act to ensure Web accessibility for those with disabilities.

Manage records.

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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