VanRoekel details plans for website inventories

Federal agencies must conduct inventories of hundreds of their Web domains in the coming weeks using surveys estimated to take seven hours to 56 hours per agency, according to new guidance from Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel.

The inventories are part of a White House plan announced in June to eliminate redundant and outdated federal websites and Web domains and improve efficiency and customer service. Currently, there are 1,710 federal Web domains and more than 24,000 federal websites.

OMB has asked agencies to reduce, or redirect, 25 percent of their .gov domains by September as an interim goal, and to do the same for 50 percent of the domains in a year.

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As of Aug. 16, agencies were more than halfway toward achieving the interim goal, according to the latest update posted on There were 329 redirects completed on the 1,710 .gov domains, which comprised 19 percent. That is more than three-quarters of the way to accomplishing the 25 percent reduction or redirect goal.

By Oct. 11, federal agencies are to submit inventories for each domain, along with a Web governance survey and a Web Improvement Plan for their agency, VanRoekel wrote in an six-page Office of Management and Budget Memorandum, “Agency Instructions for Conducting Web Inventory and Web Improvement Plan,” dated Aug 12.

The inventories and plans are the responsibility of agency chief information officers, VanRoekel wrote.

The surveys have 20 questions and are estimated to take 15 to 20 minutes per domain to conduct, VanRoekel indicated. 

For some departments, those forecasts suggest considerable time may be needed to complete the surveys. For example, with the Treasury Department, which manages 169 domains, the estimated time would be 56 hours. For Commerce, with 156 domains, 52 hours; and for Health and Human Services, with 151 domains, it adds up to 50 hours.

The smallest burdens fall on National Science Foundation, seven hours; Federal Trade Commission, eight hours; and Labor Department, nine hours.

Although the inventory surveys are not due until Oct. 11, VanRoekel said agencies are being encouraged to complete them sooner to allow time to analyze results, and to allow time to incorporate the survey results in the Web Improvement Plan. The plans must be published by each agency on its open government page by Oct. 11, he added.

The CIOs must deliver interim reports on progress made on identifying and redirecting websites by Sept. 6.

The 20-question surveys due in October address some complex issues. According to the guidance document, the agency CIOs are being asked to include all stakeholders for input — including agency Web directors, new media directors and public affairs directors — and to consider a number of cost-benefit considerations for the domains.

The CIOs are being advised to consider the costs of establishing each domain, including costs for software/content management systems; design, development, Web hosting; disaster recovery; cybersecurity; search and analytic tools; and Section 508 accessibility compliance.

The inventories also should reflect domain and website maintenance costs, including licensing fees, server hosting fees, design upgrades and the cost of ongoing compliance with all federal website requirements.

Agencies should evaluate customer experience on the domains, and determine how traffic is generated from search engines.

Also, agencies should supply metrics for visitor traffic, user performance, task completion rates and customer satisfaction. Additionally, they should assess if the value of the content, suggested by volume of visitors and performance, exceeds the cost of the site, among other factors.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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