.gov Reform Effort: Improving Federal Websites

Digital Government Strategy 

The White House released its Digital Government Strategy, entitled Digital Government: Building a 21st Century Platform to Better Serve the American People, on May 23, 2012. You can also download the Digital Government Strategy as a PDF.

The strategy is a plan for delivering better online service to the American people, with three main objectives:

  • Enable citizens and an increasingly mobile workforce to access high-quality digital government information and services anywhere, anytime, on any device.
  • Ensure that as the government adjusts to this new digital world, we seize the opportunity to procure and manage devices, applications, and data in smart, secure and affordable ways.
  • Unlock the power of government data to spur innovation across our Nation and improve the quality of services for the American people.

The Digital Government Strategy was created from a broad range of input across government: the Mobility Strategy and Web Reform Task Forces, the Office of Management and Budget, the General Services Administration, Federal CIOs, new media directors, and web managers. The Strategy also draws on research from the State of the Federal Web Report (PDF) and public input from the National Dialogue for Improving Federal Websites and the National Dialogue on the Federal Mobility Strategy.

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What is the .gov reform effort? 

The .gov reform effort began in 2011 as part of President Obama's Campaign to Cut Waste, identifying unnecessary websites that can be consolidated into other websites to reduce costs and improve the quality of service to the American public. The reform effort led to the development of a federal web strategy, which was merged with the federal mobility strategy to create the Digital Government Strategy. This broader initiative focuses not only on website consolidation, but also on innovating with less and delivering better quality content and information to the public across multiple platforms and devices.

What is the federal government doing to improve federal websites? 

In the June 13, 2011, OMB Memorandum M-11-24, Implementing Executive Order 13571 on Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service (PDF), agencies are directed to improve online services and eliminate wasteful spending. They must work to manage web resources more efficiently and assure that valuable content is readily accessible and available online. To date, the reform effort has:

  • Instituted a freeze on the approval of new .gov domain names and developed stronger criteria for getting a new domain.
  • Set up the .gov Reform Task Force to recommend updates to federal web guidelines and policies.
  • Posted and updated a list of all registered .gov domain names on Data.gov.
  • Asked agencies to identify sites that can be eliminated, consolidated, and/or streamlined.
  • Conducted an inventory of federal domains and sites, a survey of federal web governance policies and a national dialogue on improving federal web sites, and used the data to create the State of the Federal Web report.
  • Required agencies to develop Web Improvement Plans (included in the State of the Federal Web Report).
  • Worked with others across government to develop the Digital Government Strategy.

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Who's responsible for managing this effort? 

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the General Services Administration (GSA), the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the Chief Information Officers Council, and the Federal Web Managers Council are working with agencies to manage this effort. The .gov Task Force, whose members are listed below, is leading this effort.

Where can I see a list of federal websites? 

The list of federal executive branch .gov domains was published July 12, 2011 on Data.gov. It does not include .gov domains/URLs in the federal legislative or judicial branches or from state, local, or tribal governments. It also does not include sub-domains that are below the root domain, such as ers.usda.gov or niaid.nih.gov.

Since each domain can have an unlimited number of potential websites and URLs under them, the total number of websites in the entire federal government is much larger than the number of domains listed on Data.gov. The inventory will allow us to more closely identify the total number of federal websites over time.

The list of domains will be regularly updated and published on Data.gov. Putting the list on Data.gov will have several benefits:

  • Provide increased access to, and transparency of, government data.
  • Foster accountability in how we manage our federal websites and encourage input from public and private sector experts, customers, developers, and other members of the public.
  • Make it easier for agencies to see the websites they own, that are owned by other agencies, and to increase opportunities for collaboration across government.

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Who is on the .gov Task Force and how were they selected? 

The Federal Chief Information Officer selected the members of the .gov Task Force, representing a broad range of agencies and a mix of perspectives and skills.

Task force members:

  • Les Benito, Director, Public Web at Defense Media Activity
  • Gray Brooks, Associate CIO, Federal Communications Commission
  • Sheila Campbell, Director, Center for Excellence in Digital Government, Office of Citizen Services, General Services Administration
  • Sarah Crane, Director, USA.gov, Office of Citizen Services, General Services Administration
  • Cammie Croft, Senior Advisor, Director of New Media and Citizen Engagement, Department of Energy
  • Linda Cureton, Chief Information Officer, NASA
  • Terry Davis, IT Specialist, Department of Defense
  • Nick Fraser, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, Executive Office of the President
  • Miguel Gomez, Director, AIDS.gov, Health and Human Services
  • Jeffrey Levy, Director of Web Communications, Environmental Protection Agency, and Co-Chair, Federal Web Managers Council
  • Dan Munz, IT Specialist, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  • Adam Neufeld, Office of Management and Budget, Executive Office of the President
  • Todd Park, U.S. Chief Technology Officer
  • Macon Phillips, Director of Digital Strategy, The White House
  • Stacy Riggs, Office of Government-wide Policy, General Services Administration
  • Rand Ruggieri, EGov Program Manager, Department of Commerce
  • Janet Stevens, Chief Information Officer, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Department of Agriculture
  • Kodiak Starr, Creative Director of New Media, Executive Office of the President
  • Haley Van Dyck, Office of E-Gov and Information Technology, Office of Management and Budget, Executive Office of the President
  • Chris Vein, Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer for Government Innovation, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President
  • Jim Wilson, Senior Editor, NASA.gov

We plan to consult with additional subject matter experts, customers, and others as needed, to provide expertise on such areas as user-centered design, search, information management policy, privacy and security issues, and overall Internet trends such as the growth of mobile and social media.

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How was the public involved in improving federal websites? 

During this initiative we’ve invited you to join the conversation about improving federal websites. Releasing the .gov dataset on Data.gov was the first step. We enabled commenting on the dataset, and considered your ideas and comments as we developed the domain inventory.

As we've seen in other efforts, making government data transparent can spark the creativity of many bright minds across the country. We hope the public will continue to explore, discuss, and remix this data, and maybe even use it to map the .gov domain in ways we haven't seen before.

From September 19–30, 2011, we hosted a "national dialogue"–an online conversation that brought together experts, innovators, and ordinary citizens who rely on federal information every day. We discussed how federal agencies can learn from, and contribute to, the best practices of the modern web. It was a discussion filled with ideas and energy.

If you have questions about the .gov Task Force, contact Alycia Piazza at alycia.piazza@gsa.gov.

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