GSA, OMB seek new boundaries for Web analytics

The General Services Administration and the Office of Management and Budget want to overcome the limits on Web analytics imposed by the Paperwork Reduction Act.

Dave McClure, associate administrator of the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies at the General Services Administration, said there is a new push to expand the boundaries of what federal Web managers can learn about the people who use their websites.

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[I was at the conference yesterday when this reporter asked his questions, and felt he mis-interpreted Dave McClure’s remarks. He mistakenly associated the announced Paperwork Reduction Act changes OMB is working on with the issue of use of persistent cookies, which has already been addressed in OMB policy issued in June.]

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Peter Smith

I will believe it when I see it. There’s been so much scuttlebut about a true “reauthorization” of the PRA, as amended in ’95, for as long as I’ve been in government. And for as conservative as OIRA has been in moving into the e-gov arena, I frankly would be very surprised to see the powers that be accept the notion that there is an actual public purpose to collecting information about those who visit government websites. We have a hard enough time getting them to agree to let initiate online reasearch surveys because they still see a digital divide that leads to coverage errors in sampling frames and biased results that can’t be generalized to the broader population.

Tim Evans

Peter, I believe you also have mis-interpreted this. OMB has *already* issued new policy on Web Measurement (i.e., use of persistent cookies) in web analytics. What Dave McClure announced yesterday was forthcoming changes in the PRA with respect to surveys and the like. These are two completely different things.