Treasury builds its new website in the cloud

Department becomes first cabinet-level agency to move its site to public cloud

The Treasury Department on Monday rolled out a new design of its website at Treasury.gov, which incorporates a cloud computing infrastructure and other emerging technologies.

“The new Treasury.gov website is a major step forward in our efforts to improve the way citizens access the wealth of the data and information Treasury produces on a day-to-day basis,” said Dan Tangherlini, Treasury's assistant secretary for management, as well as the depaertment's CFO and Chief Performance Officer.  “For the first time, the new Treasury.gov will use advanced technologies like cloud computing, an official blog, and data visualizations to better communicate and connect with citizens.”

The step into the cloud is the first from a cabinet-level U.S. agency. Treasury is using Amazon’s EC2 cloud service to host the site and associated data applications.


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Treasury.gov is providing new data visualizations, including interest rate data and Recovery Act data. The new infrastructure of the site should allow for more data visualization presentations in the future, according to the agency.

No website redesign these days would be complete without full integration of the major Web 2.0 social media channels. The Treasury Department points out its existing Facebook, YouTube and Twitter sites to help increase communication and transparency in working with the public. However, a quick review of the agency’s social sites shows that, although they do exist, the department has not put a lot of effort into maintaining and updating them. The YouTube site has one video posted last week with the three most recent after that coming from five and nine months ago.

The Treasury’s Twitter stream is following 72 people and has 5,510 followers with 182 tweets as of Tuesday morning. Like the YouTube channel, the Twitter stream could use more attention, with only three tweets coming in the last week (with the latest one announcing the agency’s website redesign). Same story with its Facebook page. It has 796 “likes” but only five updates to its wall since Nov. 9.

The newest social feature at Treasury.gov is a blog, Treasury Notes. It has three posts so far, two introductions to the new website from Tangherlini and Secretary Tim Geithner, as well as a post Tuesday morning from Acting Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability Tim Massad about the department selling back its final shares of Citigroup common stock. The blog does not allow comments. 

The department also integrated Microsoft’s FAST Search Server product for enterprise search to handle discovery on the website. The homepage has a search bar in the top right corner and there are advanced search options that allow for search of specific services of the treasury such as orders and directives or by bureau.

To manage the content in the site, a Treasury contact said the department is using SharePoint 2010 as a new content management system.

“Treasury’s decision to move its flagship site to a public cloud infrastructure reflects the administration’s commitment to closing the IT gap between the public and private sectors by leveraging the power of technology,” Vivek Kundra, federal chief information officer, said. “Use of cloud computing increases cost effectiveness, improves efficiency and provides greater flexibility, as the private industry sector has proven. This is exactly the kind of game-changing technology required to do more with less.”


About the Author

Dan Rowinski is a staff reporter covering communications technologies.

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