Website reformers find more is not better

President Barack Obama issued an executive order in April calling on agencies to improve customer service, particularly through online channels. The findability of information on government websites plays a prominent part in that effort.

The Office of Management and Budget followed up on the president’s order with guidance that, among other things, aims to reduce the proliferation of government websites, a trend blamed for hampering users’ ability to find the information they need.

The OMB memo cites the following statistics.

  • More than half of Americans accessed a federal website in 2010, which demonstrates a significant use of online government services.
  • There are nearly 2,000 top-level federal .gov domains, such as WhiteHouse.gov, USDA.gov and USAspending.gov.
  • Many of those domains have smaller subsites and microsites, resulting in an estimated 24,000 federal websites.

"We're negatively impacting how people can find information via search,” said Sheila Campbell, director of the General Services Administration’s Center for Excellence in Digital Government, during a July 12 videoconference about the effort to reform the .gov domain. “With all the URLs, we're competing against each other...for good search results.”

OMB’s plans address the customer service problem on three fronts:

  • Executive branch agencies will not be issued any new .gov domains through Dec. 31.
  • Agencies must reduce — or redirect to existing domains — 50 percent of .gov sites by July 12, 2012.
  • Each agency had to develop a comprehensive Web Improvement Plan by Oct. 11 to help it streamline Web operations and improve customer service.

A review of the plans posted on USA.gov shows that many agencies do not have agencywide Web strategies. Some said the approach was difficult because of the diverse and independent nature of their subagencies and divisions. Overall, website and content management remain decentralized activities at most departments. In addition, several agencies mentioned a need for stronger information architecture.

About the Author

Connect with the FCW staff on Twitter @FCWnow.

Featured

  • Telecommunications
    Stock photo ID: 658810513 By asharkyu

    GSA extends EIS deadline to 2023

    Agencies are getting up to three more years on existing telecom contracts before having to shift to the $50 billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions vehicle.

  • Workforce
    Shutterstock image ID: 569172169 By Zenzen

    OMB looks to retrain feds to fill cyber needs

    The federal government is taking steps to fill high-demand, skills-gap positions in tech by retraining employees already working within agencies without a cyber or IT background.

  • Acquisition
    GSA Headquarters (Photo by Rena Schild/Shutterstock)

    GSA to consolidate multiple award schedules

    The General Services Administration plans to consolidate dozens of its buying schedules across product areas including IT and services to reduce duplication.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.