NASA strives to tighten its cyberspace presence

NASA’s chief information officer has outlined a policy governing NASA’s publicly accessible Web sites that states the www.NASA.gov portal will now serve as the agency’s sole online source of information.

For years, watchdog groups have criticized the agency for publishing duplicate Web sites on separate domains, thereby wasting taxpayers' money and employees' time.

A March 16 memo, signed by CIO Patricia Dunnington and strategic communications chief Joseph Davis, directs all employees planning to publish new Web sites or content to use the NASA portal infrastructure.

“It is now time to move forward to leverage the portal as the single domain for NASA’s public Web presence, increase the breadth of content available and improve search capability,” the memo states. “As NASA moves forward to implement the Vision for Space Exploration, it is important to ensure that our citizens, and the world, can learn about NASA’s activities in engaging, clear, consistent and cohesive ways.”

A former agency scientist recently observed that NASA had been wasting money by using three multimedia Web sites to track the same International Space Station (ISS) data.

Keith Cowing, a former NASA life scientist who now edits the uncensored NASA Watch blog, posted an entry late January that linked to three agency Web sites displaying similar ISS-tracking resources. The Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.; the Johnson Space Center in Houston; and NASA’s headquarters each hosted one. The sites didn’t link to one another.

Cowing said in his post that such inefficiency and divisiveness among centers hint at deeper troubles within the space program.

According to the latest NASA memo, officials will issue guidance on existing public Web sites after officials complete an evaluation of the matter.

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