Federal Government: 24,000 Web Sites and Shrinking; A Four Point Web Optimization Plan


The below blog was written by Aaron Dun and published with permission from Percussion. Percussion provides Web Content Management (WCM) software that helps businesses increase traffic, drive conversion, and improve social interaction. The Percussion Marketing Blog discusses web content, engagement, SEO, inbound marketing, and social media.


In June President Obama took to the airwaves to announce an ambitious campaign to reduce waste. The Campaign to Cut Waste sought to identify pointless Federal spending and eliminate it as rapidly as possible. As of June, as much as $33B was estimated as potential savings.

During the announcements The President also talked about a broad plan to review the number of Federal websites and take down or consolidate those that were pointless. As an example of “silly spending” he pointed to the Fiddlin Fiddlers as a “ridiculous program.” In what became the signature line of the launch. President Obama famously said:


“I’ll put their music on my iPod, but I’m not paying for their website!”

And sure enough, don’t try to find that site online today, you will only see the following message:


Sorry, “www.fiddlinforesters.gov” is unavailable or could not be found.

Fast forward to July. Fed CIO Vivek Kundra launched a 17 member task force to review what turns out to be more than 24,000 Federal Government web sites, and come up with a plan for streamlining them. The notion of “one single gov web site” was even floated

In a live video chat on the White House web site. Kundra, Sheila Campbell, head of the General Service’s Administration’s digital government division, and White House Director of Digital Strategy Macon Phillips talked more about this initiative. They also took questions from the community using Twitter and the hashtag #dotgov, where the conversation continues today.

We were pleased to see that Percussion client healthcare.gov was held out as a model for what is possible in government web sites. Our work with a number of Federal agencies including the General Services Administration (usa.gov) and Health and Human Services (healthcare.gov, cancer.gov, and aids.gov, among others) give us an insider’s perspective on this important initiative.

Based on our experiences, there are four things that we highlight as areas of opportunity for Federal Agencies as they review their web strategies, particularly in light of the ongoing effort to drive even greater Government to Citizen interactivity.

  1. Standardizing one web content management infrastructure across the agency: Standardizing the infrastructure under one enterprise license results in synergies and shared best practices, repositories, and other components, while also keeping costs down on licensing multiple platforms.
  2. Moving to the Cloud for website delivery – Moving to a cloud infrastructure speeds website delivery, reduces the number of servers required to run the site, and eases access to content. This represents a strong candidate for compliance with the “Cloud First” initiative launched last year as many agencies have already determined.
  3. Separating content infrastructure from web delivery infrastructure – Just as in the commercial sector, the Citizen is demanding information and interactivity in new ways and are adopting new technologies at an ever increasing speed. As was said in the web cast, Government agencies are challenged to prepare for the web of the future, not just catching up to today. Separating content from delivery allows agencies to focus on delivering even more content to citizens across the widest number of channels. As the web rate of change accelerates, this gives agencies the freedom to adopt new channels (such as Google +), without ripping out existing web delivery infrastructure. That would only create more costs, not less.
  4. Ensuring reusability of Content — Having a standardized WCM infrastructure, deploying content in the Cloud and separating content from delivery, enables easier and more nimble reuse, access, and delivery of content across sites. This allows for quicker and timelier delivery of information and enables agencies to deliver better information services to their constituents.

We will provide more details on Percussion’s Four Point Plan in the coming days. In addition to working with our customers across the Federal Government on this initiative, we are also looking at the great ideas being proposed through Twitter to hear what the community as a whole has to say.

We look forward to sharing more with you!