A 3-Minute Guide to How Government Agencies Should Handle “Content Governance”


Every government website struggles with content governance. That’s because content governance is a pretty new concept and very few public websites have discovered it.

So here’s your three-minute primer on content governance for government websites:


“Content governance” describes how decisions about your online content are made and implemented across your organization.

The work that goes into creating content — messaging, writing, design, keyword research — are about process and execution.

Content governance, meanwhile, is about operational strategy—aka, the big picture.


Whether a government agency has 10 employees or 10,000, it needs a Core Content Team. Their job is to both generate high-level, strategic content decisions and solicit feedback from stakeholders to inform those decisions.

Naming a core content team means that:

  • Everyone in the organization understands who to talk to about website content
  • You can clearly see how your content is handled so you can make improvements regularly

We recommend a core content team that comprises:

  • One member from each major department of the agency
  • No more than 7 people (after which, decisions and calendars get messy and slow)
  • Experienced staff members who understand your agency and its messages
  • Members from outside the executive offices

Announce the formation of the team to the whole agency. They should meet at least once a month to review site  analytics, discuss upcoming goals, etc. They should also understand that the agency’s website is their baby — to be nurtured and protected.

(Note: If your agency is too huge for a small core team, we recommend forming “work groups” within each major agency department. These work groups would operate like mini-core teams, pushing content upward to the core team.)


The elements of a content governance plan are negotiable — it’s a new discipline, after all — but we’ve found that content governance plans usually include:

  • A simple content chart that illustrates which agency departments are responsible for which portions of the website — and how they should request changes of the core team
  • Guidelines for the core team to use when considering what to publish online — e.g., Does SEO play a role in your content decisions?
  • A set of policies for how, and how often, content should be submitted, reviewed, and published
  • An “evergreen” content calendar that lets different departments know when they’re expected to deliver certain types of content

It’s important to document these decisions and share throughout the organization. If possible, put your plan into a slide presentation and spend 30 minutes with each division, explaining how content will be handled moving forward.


Content governance is easier said than done, but it’s also a critical investment. Government websites are especially important to the public. If the content is outdated, ignored, or simply dull, then you’re missing an opportunity to better serve your constituents.

Mike Steckel is director of user experience at Mighty Citizen, a digital branding and marketing agency for mission-driven organizations.

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Sherie Sanders

Lots of practical solid advice for implementation. Having worked for a gov vendor and explored many gov websites, I have to say that some were quite engaging! I was impressed by quite a few!