DefenseLink to get new face

The Defense Department is redesigning its central Web site, DefenseLink, to help better
control the information DOD users place on the Internet.


DOD officials expect to have the new site in place by April or May. The redesign will
make it easier for Web surfers to find the department’s 2,000 or so Web pages,
department officials said.


The department will add a new menu item, called Sites, at the top of the DefenseLink
home page, Capt. Jim Knotts, the DefenseLink project manager, said at a recent Federal
Webmasters Forum. The Sites menu will be a gateway to all the DOD sites out there, Knotts
said.


The redesign was sparked by a growing DOD concern that too much information that could
compromise security was available on various Defense Web sites. Those concerns led DOD to
issue a new Web site policy in December giving commanders responsibility for their
organizations’ Internet sites [GCN, Jan. 11, Page 3].


DOD’s Web use started, as in most agencies, from the bottom up, Knotts said.
“When we finally did a review, we found there was a lot of data that didn’t need
to be up there,” he said.


“About 95 percent of the information we create doesn’t need to be on the
Web,” Knotts said.


Individuals using the redesigned site will be able to do keyword searches. Eventually,
DOD might register its sites with major commercial search engines for greater ease in
finding particular information, Knotts said.


For this to happen, all DOD sites will have to be registered through DefenseLink and
provide information such as key words, the title of the site, identity of the person
filling out the form and name of the webmaster.


DOD decided against limiting access to the site registration form. Not everyone who
could legitimately set up a Web site under the DOD banner is on the same domain, such as
universities doing research, Knotts said.


Passwords would not work because the department would first have to know everyone who
might want to set up a site, he said.


But unlimited access means DOD will occasionally get someone trying to register a site
as Mickey Mouse at disney.com, Knotts said. “We have had that, but it actually is a
very low number,” he said.


The new Web structure will be both centralized and decentralized, Knotts said. By
linking all sites to a single main site, headquarters can give approval and renewal
clearance for each site. Yet, at the same time, the administration and updating of each
site will be handled at the lowest levels, Knotts said.


DOD loosely defines a site as a collection of pages dealing with one topic. That topic
could be information pertaining to one military installation or an event. “If they
define themselves as a separate entity, then they are,” Knotts said. “We would
want to know about more sites than less.”  

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