OMB updates 12-year-old federal website policy

The Office of Management and Budget is looking for more functionality, security, privacy and oversight of agencies' public-facing websites.

Shutterstock image: government access keyboard.

The Office of Management and Budget replaced a 12-year-old policy for federal agencies' public-facing websites with a new set of requirements it says will make those digital assets more accessible, secure and functional.

The memo from OMB Director Shaun Donovan; Howard Shelanski, administrator of OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs; and U.S. CIO Tony Scott states that the new policy builds on the 2012 Digital Government Strategy and the 2014 Digital Services Playbook for developing effective and user-centric digital services.

The new policy replaces guidance for federal websites that was issued in 2004 by Clay Johnson, who was OMB's deputy director for management at the time.

Under the new policy, federal agencies must make sure their public-facing websites are accessible from a variety of devices, keep track of the data generated by the sites and report regularly to the General Services Administration on pertinent data via GSA's DotGov Dashboard.

The memo also directs GSA's Office of Government-wide Policy to create a new council of agency web/digital directors within a month to facilitate the new reporting and compliance requirements.

In addition, agencies must establish basic governance of their websites and digital services and treat them as part of their overall mission strategy and not just "discrete individual IT projects." Agencies also must post those governance plans on their websites under a "Digital Strategy" page.

Furthermore, agencies must keep track of usage data to better understand their users' needs and behaviors, and continually test their websites to make sure those needs are being met. As part of that effort, agencies must participate in GSA's Digital Analytics Program and deploy tracking code on all their public-facing websites.

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