The White House thinks the federal government has too many websites - some 24,000, including 2,000 top-level .gov domains - and wants to reduce that number significantly. To get started, the Office of Management and Budget implemented an immediate freeze for the next 90 days on the creation of executive branch websites.
"More than half of all Americans accessed a federal website in 2010, evidence that many government services are now delivered online," Jeffrey Zients, OMB deputy director for management and federal chief performance officer, wrote in a memo distributed to departmental and agency department heads. "While many federal websites provide timely and accurate information and services, many others have redundant, outdated, hard to use or poorly maintained content."
Zients said the websites offer varying purpose, design, navigation, usability and accessibility. "This duplication not only can cause confusion, but also wastes taxpayer dollars," he said. "To simplify access to federal services, the government needs a comprehensive and consistent strategy for managing its web resources efficiently and assuring that valuable content is available online and is readily accessible."
The memorandum, dated June 13, provides for an exception to the freeze only if an agency receives a waiver from the federal chief information officer. Otherwise, Zients said, agencies should leverage existing .gov sites and infrastructure to meet new needs.
At a press conference Tuesday, Zients said the government hopes to cut at least 25 percent of the 2,000 sites in the next few months, and by next year will get rid of more than 1,000 websites, Federal News Radio reports, adding that the Energy Department is consolidating its websites and should save $10 million a year.
According to the memo, OMB, the General Services Administration, Office of Science and Technology Policy, the CIO Council and the Federal Web Managers Council will work with agencies to:
- Update .gov domain policy and guidelines. Within 30 days, the federal CIO, in collaboration with GSA, will establish a task force to solicit and develop recommendations to update federal executive branch .gov policy and guidelines and best practices for managing federal websites.
- Eliminate duplicative and outdated websites. Within 30 days, GSA will make publicly available on Data.gov a list of all registered top-level .gov domain names. This list will be updated regularly. Within 60 days, GSA will provide agency-specific lists on the MAX customer service initiative site, and the Federal CIO will issue instructions for how agencies should identify opportunities to improve content as well as eliminate duplicative and outdated websites.
Within 120 days, each agency will use the agency-specific domain name list and related instructions to identify domain names that are no longer needed, websites that should be consolidated or eliminated, and website content that needs to be improved. Agencies will post on their open government page the actions they will take as a result of their review.