OMB shelves new Web policy

OMB suggests
principles
for agency Web sites



Strategic planning: Set clear goals with performance measures that
demonstrate value, support consistent service, maintenance and product delivery, and
ensure the security of information and systems.
Service delivery: Use the Web to complement other service delivery
tools. Exercise judgment when linking to nongovernmental sites.
Public access, dissemination and the Government Information Locator
Service: Strive for accuracy, relevance, timeliness and complete information for sites,
and implement GILS on the Internet as proscribed in OMB rules.
Information collection and privacy: Collect only information that is
necessary for performing official functions. Respect and guard the privacy of the public
and ensure the security of their information.
Records management: Treat Web sites as records and apply the
guidelines proscribed by the National Archives and Records Administration.




The Office of Management and Budget has postponed issuing its principles for federal
use of the Web because it contains no new rules. Agencies must follow existing
regulations, an OMB official said.


“We are not issuing new policy,” said Glenn Schlarman, senior policy analyst
for OMB’s Information Policy and Technology Branch. “Whether we issue these or
not, they’re still out there.”


“Do paper rules apply? You bet,” the OMB official said during the Strategies
for Successful Web Sites in 1999 conference, sponsored by the Council for Excellence in
Government, the Digital Government Institute and Government Computer News.


The draft OMB Web principles apply existing legislation and rules to the Web world.
“The use of the Web, while exciting, is not an end unto itself,” Schlarman said,
but a part of each agency’s mission.


Furthermore, agency Web operations are not solely or even primarily the job of the
webmaster, he said.


“It’s not just the webmaster’s Web site. It’s the agency’s Web
site,” Schlarman said. “We don’t see a lot of broad agency management”
of Web sites.


The OMB Web principles, which have been in draft form for more than a year, stress that
the Web “should be used to support work processes that have been appropriately
redesigned and to improve existing information management practices and service delivery
methods,” Schlarman said. “At the same time, agencies must continue to meet the
needs of those without Web access.”


“You have to have a purpose to your site,” said Gretchen Van Hyning,
chairwoman of the Federal World Wide Web Consortium and the acting bureau chief of office
communication systems for the Housing and Urban Development Department’s Development
Technology Division.


“Once you define what the purpose of your Web site is, you have to make the
commitment of time and resources,” she said. “Don’t go into this
lightly.”


HUD, for example, has 30 staff members at headquarters and more than 100 employees in
regional offices who work on Web sites.


“This is not a small exercise,” she said. “Once you create the
expectation, you must maintain that or you will hear about it.”


Richard N. Kellett, director of the General Services Administration’s Office of
Information Technology Emerging IT Policies Division, recommended that agencies establish
marketing plans for Web sites that focus on what the agency does and who its audience is.


Agency Web sites are changing to providing anywhere, anyplace, right-now information
content and transactions, he said.


One significant issue is privacy. Schlarman said the public is concerned about privacy
on the Web.


“The government should allay those concerns, not add to them,” he said. A
recent survey found that only 12 of 70 government Web sites had posted privacy policies,
he said.


Kellett said many sites are now developing privacy buttons that link to legal
information about privacy, a copyright disclaimer and some type of contract stating the
agency will not disclose e-mail addresses or server logs.  

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