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Improving EPA's Public Access Website Memo


Date: April 14, 2008

Subject: Improving EPA's Public Access Website

Molly A. O'Neill /s/, Assistant Administrator and Chief Information Officer, Office of Environmental Information

Lisa Lybbert /s/, Associate Administrator, Office of Public Affairs

To: Assistant Administrators, General Counsel, Inspector General, Chief Financial Officers, Associate Administrators, Regional Administrators, Deputy Assistant Administrators, Deputy-Regional Administrators, Staff Office Directors

Effective delivery of environmental information requires a unified approach to creating EPA Web content based on how stakeholders look for information and the ways they want to use it. EPA's Web site is a fundamental part of every Agency program, our environmental outreach efforts, and communications with a wide range of audiences. Fourteen years of organic growth of the site have resulted in multiple systems for creating Web content. Use of multiple approaches makes it hard for the public to find what they need and forces EPA to spend too much time and money managing the site. Multiple approaches also make it harder to create a topic-based, rather than organization-focused, site.

To achieve our information access goals we must move the entire site into a single repository called a Web content management system (Web CMS). As a first step, the Agency’s Web Council has formed a workgroup with representatives from program and regional offices to develop a Web Information Architecture, a framework of top-level content categories. The workgroup has a deadline of early summer. Each of your offices then needs to complete these three tasks:

  1. Create a set of categories within the Information Architecture framework describing all of your information. We will provide guidance, assistance, and oversight. Your staff will complete the categorization of your content to ensure it is accessible to our multiple audiences. Your categories should be established by the end of calendar 2008.

  2. Clean house. Our Web site is full of redundant, outdated, or trivial information (ROT). It costs time and money to maintain this material on the Web site. By September 30, 2008, please identify your ROT. Our offices will then work with yours to remove it from the site, archiving as necessary.

  3. Move into the content management system. Tagging, or labeling, all Web content will be required. Using the categories developed under the first two tasks, your staff will categorize your Web materials. We will then work with you to move your content into the Web CMS repository, applying the tags as a part of that process. As offices are ready, we will begin the move in the fall of 2008 and finish by September 30, 2010.

This is a significant undertaking. Working together we can improve access to environmental information and make our Web site a model for others to follow. Please contact Jonda Byrd, OEI at (513-569-7183), or Jeffrey Levy, OPA at (202-564-9727) if you have questions or desire additional information.

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