Government Webbies: You Identified the Problem – Now Create the Solution

The federal web manager community has been hollering – rightly – about the uncontrolled proliferation of federal government websites for at least 7 years. We’ve known we can’t possibly manage all that content effectively. We’ve known there’s duplication and redundancy. We’ve known that a huge percentage of our web content is written poorly, making it hard for our customers to get the fast, efficient service they deserve.

And now, you’ve got a chance to fix it. The White House, OMB, and the Chief CIO have heard you. You’ve triggered the .gov Reform Effort. Woot! But now, you’ve got to finish this thing. You’ve got to help find the solution.

The Reform Effort starts with developing and analyzing an inventory of government websites on the .gov domain. A 17-person task force has been appointed to lead this effort; and since I personally know several of them, I can tell you these are some of the best, smartest people in government.But I also can tell you they are very busy people, with many responsibilities. These 17 people will not have the time to do the analysis to decide “what’s next?” They’re looking at others to help.

There’s hope that agencies will weed out this mess…acknowledge unneeded sites and eliminate them. But I doubt they’ll be calling other agencies, saying, “hey, we duplicate what you have; so let’s join forces.”

There’s hope the public will jump in. Some of the advocates and lobbying groups surely will see this as an opening to weigh in.

But you know this problem the best. And the good news? Your representatives – the Federal Web Managers Council– has been named as a partner in this effort. So you’re at the table. You have the floor. Now show them what you’ve got!

Will this be easy? Heck no! Egos are involved. Hours and hours of work are involved. Compromise is involved. Credibility is involved. Doing the analysis, forming the recommendations, and – gulp –making those hard calls (I guarantee you – some agencies are NOT going to like being told they have to abandon or merge the websites they control) will not come easy. But doing the right thing is the essence of “public service.”

More is not better – it’s simply more.Citizen customers deserve better. They deserve concise, well-written, easy to find, easy-to-use government services. You’ve identified the problem. You’ve got the attention and support of people at the highest levels. So don’t stop now.

Don’t sit back and wait for others to solve the problem when you know the issues the best. Crank up the Forum. Work with the FWMC. Commit the time, do the work, and finish this thing. Find the solution.

This is your moment. Courage! Vision! Passion!

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