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7/23/2009
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Homeland Security Gets Web 2.0 Overhaul

The agency's redesigned Web site features a new YouTube channel and links to Twitter and other media, in a push towards greater transparency.

The Department of Homeland Security has given its Web site a new look, becoming the first federal agency to redesign its site in keeping with the Obama administration's guidance on social media and transparency.

The updated DHS.gov features an "I Want to" menu of tasks; a list of popular search terms; links to the department's Twitter feed, YouTube channel, and blogs; and easy-to-access RSS feeds.

"Social media plays an increasingly large role in our engagement with the public, especially in the event of an incident or disaster," DHS secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement. "These new tools will facilitate an open dialogue about the department's security efforts across the nation and around the world."

The site was organized around Napolitano's top priorities, with drop down menus across the top on counter-terrorism, border security, disaster preparedness, immigration, and the creation of a more unified department.

The agency will use its new YouTube channel to post news and general information, including video of news conferences, in an effort at increased transparency. "A lot of the efforts are being spurred by President Obama's transparency memo," said Gwynne Kostin, the agency's director of Web and new media. "We're looking for ways to fulfill the tenets of that memo."

The site was designed internally, influenced by the sites run by the Obama campaign and the White House. "It's a good model and provides a level of familiarity with people," Kostin said.


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