GSA now in charge of dot-gov domain policy, issuance

The Office of Management and Budget is trying once again to tame the continued explosion of federal websites and domains.

A Dec. 8 memo from acting federal chief information officer Lisa Schlosser, which OMB only posted online earlier this week, gives the General Services Administration’s Office of Governmentwide Policy (OGP) oversight over future agency requests for new dot-gov sites.

“New guidance for the issuance of domains shall adhere to the guiding principles of consolidation and cost-efficiency; and shall continue to limit the proliferation of stand-alone websites and infrastructure,” Schlosser wrote in the memo to agencies executives. “GSA/OGP should establish targets for each agency to strive for in further consolidating their website portfolios. In conjunction with GSA/OGP, agencies should review existing domains and ensure they are still pertinent and cannot be consolidated.”

OMB froze all new federal websites in 2011, and set out steps to reduce the number of dot-gov domains.

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GSA’s 18F organization recently published a list of all federal dot-gov domains and found more than 1,300. This is down from the 2011 baseline OMB issued of more than 2,000 dot-gov websites and 24,000 sub-sites or micro-sites. In all, 18F found there are more than 5,300 dot-gov websites used by federal, state, local, and tribal governments.

As part of the initial 2011 effort, OMB established a dot-gov Reform Task Force, which surveyed 56 agencies, and found the sites suffer from a lack of standardization and consistency. The task force found 1,400 domains across the 56 agencies — meaning the number of dot- gov sites, whether 2,000 or 1,400 hasn’t significantly decreased in more than three years.

So OMB set out seven requirements for new dot-gov sites and eight standards for all dot-gov domains.

Among the standards for new federal websites, OMB says they should:

  • Adhere to Section 508 accessibility standards;
  • Employ Web analytics provided by GSA’s Digital Analytics Program;
  • Comply with existing information security and acquisition standards including Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) and continuous monitoring for cybersecurity;
  • Be subject to inclusion in the OMB PortfolioStat Integrated Data Collection.

Additionally, OMB’s requirements for all dot-gov websites include:

  • Encouraging the use of responsive Web design in accordance with the Digital Government Strategy so users can access information anywhere, anytime, and on any device;
  • Promoting next-generation open Web development, including using content delivery networks; content management systems; common code libraries, frameworks, and tools;
  • Promoting effective content lifecycle management to eliminate outdated content, not defined as archival;
  • Encouraging best practices for structuring and tagging content (metadata and keywords) and data for search engine optimization and machine-readability.

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