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8/19/2011
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OMB Extends Ban On New Federal Websites

Agencies must list the sites they've already shut down and describe how they'll improve the remaining ones.

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The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has extended a ban on the creation of new federal websites and mandated that agencies complete an inventory of all of their Web domains as well as develop a plan for improving them by Oct. 11.

The guidance came in a memo by the OMB posted sent on behalf of U.S. CIO Steven VanRoekel, who replaced Vivek Kundra earlier this month. The memo, the authenticity of which was confirmed by an OMB spokesperson Friday, is posted on the USA.gov website.

President Obama issued an executive order in June for all federal agencies and departments to eliminate wasteful spending in a Campaign to Cut Waste. The move included shutting down hundreds of websites and freezing the development of new ones.

That freeze will now continue until December 31, 2011. During this time, agencies will need a written waiver from VanRoekel if they want to launch a new .gov domain, according to the memo.

The memo also sets deadlines for reporting agency progress on shutting down websites and improving the ones they will continue to maintain. By Sept. 6, agencies must provide the OMB with a report on .gov domains they've shut down since the Campaign to Cut Waste was enacted on June 13.

The list should also include "outdated, redundant, or poorly performing domains, old 'redirects' that no longer provide value, or domains that are non-functioning and no longer in use," according to the memo. Agencies also should describe other plans they have to streamline or cut websites.

By Oct. 11, agencies must have ready a complete Web inventory of all registered .gov domain names. In that inventory they should note websites that provide "high value" to the public and could be used as models for other sites. They also should identify opportunities for improving efficiencies in Web management and operations within and across agencies as well as improving how they interact with customers through their online properties, according to the memo.

Oct. 11 also is the date agencies should provide the OMB with a Web improvement plan showing how they will provide more useful online content and manage Web resources more effectively in the future.

Since Obama released the Campaign to Cut Waste, the OMB has appointed a .gov Reform Task Force, which has been meeting regularly to develop recommendations for federal website reform. The OMB also has posted a list of all .gov domain names--of which there are 1,710--on Data.gov to help agencies perform their inventories. The feds hope to reduce .gov domains by 25% by next month, and 50% by the end of the year.

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