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6/14/2011
10:11 PM
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Feds To Develop Mobile Apps Amid Website Freeze

The White House plan to trim the estimated 2,000 government websites is aligned with another to increase the number of Internet and mobile application-based customer self-service options.

Best Government Web Sites
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The federal government's plan to freeze the creation of new federal websites and cut the number of existing ones in half is aligned with another to increase the number of Internet and mobile application-based customer self-service options.

While these seem like divergent goals that could pose implementation challenges, a fact the White House acknowledged in a blog post, the administration believes they are actually complementary.

President Obama on Monday unveiled the Campaign to Cut Waste, a plan that includes the elimination or consolidation of 25% of the federal government's existing 2,000 sites over the next few months, and cutting the number of standalone websites in half over the next year.

Consolidating websites should alleviate some of the current confusion people have when using federal websites that have redundant, out of date or poorly maintained content, according to Office of Management and Budget Director Jeffrey Zients.

"There are nearly 2,000 top-level Federal .gov domains; within these top-level domains, there are thousands of websites, sub-sites, and micro sites, resulting in an estimated 24,000 websites of varying purpose, design, navigation, usability, and accessibility," Zients wrote in a memo directing agencies how to implement planned customer-service improvement. "This duplication not only can cause confusion, but also wastes taxpayer dollars."

In both the memo and the blog post, the administration detailed how cutting back on and consolidating websites will improve the federal government's Internet interaction with the public.

By putting a moratorium on the creation of new websites, the feds are giving themselves an opportunity to assess the Internet properties they currently have and see what needs to be done to consolidate and eliminate them.

The OMB is calling for all agencies and departments to report back on every URL they maintain. Once that's done, the White House will post a list of all registered .gov domains within 30 days to garner feedback from the public on which ones are working and which aren't, according to the blog post.

While the administration thinks consolidating websites will facilitate online engagement and improve customer service, it did acknowledge that deciding what to consolidate and how many websites the government needs will be tricky.

To help sort it out, the administration will appoint a government task force to work with experts from both the public and private sector to develop a standard policy for government websites going forward, according to the post.

What industry can teach government about IT innovation and efficiency. Also in the new, all-digital issue of InformationWeek Government: Federal agencies have to shift from annual IT security assessments to continuous monitoring of their risks. Download it now. (Free registration required.)

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