Much government web content is written in “governmentese” instead of plain language, says a white paper* developed by the Federal Web Managers Council, comprised of Cabinet agency Web Directors. The paper suggests (i) Establish Web Communications as a core government business function, (ii) Help the public complete common government tasks efficiently, (iii) Clean up the clutter so people can find what they need online, (iv) Engage the public in a dialogue to improve our customer service, (v) Engage the public in a dialogue to improve our customer service, (vi) Ensure the public gets the same answer whether they use the web, phone, email, print, or visit in-person, (vii) Ensure underserved populations can access critical information online. All of these are sound suggestions. Item (vi) is perhaps most difficult to ensure in practice. There are about 24,000 government websites now online, notes the white paper. The Council has also invited comments on the white paper. Mercifully it is a 3-page white paper. Surely worth a look.
*FWMC (Federal Web Managers Council) (2008): Putting Citizens First: Transforming Online Government, A White Paper Written for the 2008 – 2009 Presidential Transition Team, November, http://www.usa.gov/webcontent/documents/Federal_Web_Managers_WhitePaper.pdf (accessed: December 18, 2008).