September 29, 2016

President Obama Says There are Too Many .Gov Web Sites

From a White House Blog Post:

As the President points out in this video, our government doesn’t need a website dedicated to foresters who play the fiddle. We also don’t need multiple sites dealing with invasive plants (here and here).  And I‘m pretty sure the website dedicated to the Centennial of Flight can come down… particularly since the Centennial was in 2003.

Today, there are nearly 2,000 top-level federal .gov domains (this means a top-level url, [WEBSITENAME].gov, that links to a distinct website). This includes WhiteHouse.gov, as well as others like USDA.gov, USASpending.gov, NOAA.gov and USA.gov. Under many of these domains are smaller sub-sites and microsites resulting in an estimated 24,000 websites of varying purpose, design, navigation, usability, and accessibility.

While many government websites each deliver value to the taxpayer through easy-to-use services and information, an overall online landscape of literally thousands of websites – each focusing on a specific topic or organization – can create confusion and inefficiency.

In addition to confusing the public, duplicate and unnecessary websites also waste money. And while the costs for some of these websites may be relatively small, as President Obama also said in the video, “No amount of waste is acceptable. Not when it’s your money, not at a time when so many families are already cutting back.”

So the federal government will do more with less, improving how it delivers information and services to the public by reducing the number of websites it maintains.  To help drive this change we’ve set a specific goal that over the next year, we’ll get rid of at least half of them.

Notes:

Again From the Blog Post:

In addition to confusing the public, duplicate and unnecessary websites also waste money. And while the costs for some of these websites may be relatively small, as President Obama also said in the video, “‘No amount of waste is acceptable. Not when it’s your money, not at a time when so many families are already cutting back.'”

1. Top-level web domains are one thing but in saying that there are t0o many subsites/microsites is another. What does this mean? Are we talking sub-sites inside a focused site like this mentioned at the beginning of the blog post OR sub-sites on any web domain?

2. What exactly is a sub-site? A focused area of a large site, often beginning with the name or a subdirectory or all sites that begin with something other than the top-level domain?

Is Chronicling America a sub-site at Chronicling.loc.gov? What about Travel.state.gov or Jobs.Faa.gov?

3. The White House should know that sub-sites (no matter the definition) CAN be a useful way to organize a lot of focused information and then have an easy URL to share with others and market the content. Yes, of course, it’s also possible to go overboard but have info organization and info architecture been considered?

4. If old sites are to be taken offline have they been archived properly and are URLs going to be redirected to where the material is being archived?  What does the White House have to say about the long term preservation of government web sites and making it easy for researchers to access? NARA does conduct web harvests (using Internet Archive technology). Are the harvests large enough? Are they being promoted properly? Learn more about the harvests at: http://www.webharvest.gov (is this top-level domain necessary?  (-:  

Our point here is not to say that what’s being discussed is 100% wrong but rather if considerations about many issues (several noted above) are in place about how to proceed going forward?

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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