Evidently, sharing government information with the public is "wasteful." While I'm all for spending tax dollars responsibly, and don't want the federal govt to waste dollars on superfluous and wasteful things (like $3 billion for duplicative engines for the F-35 fighter jet), I would prefer if he didn't use the printing of the Federal Register as an example of govt waste. As we noted in our earlier post:
Public Printer Bill Boarman, in a Mar. 17, 2011 Senate Appropriations hearing for the Government Printing Office, stated that 70% of the cost and work of publishing the Congressional Record is done in pre-press, and many of the same duties necessary to publish it in print are still necessary to put it out digitally.
While it is true that many more people these days access government information (including the Federal Register) in digital format, there is still a need for print from both a usability and preservation standpoint. Gary Price points out some of the incongruities with the White House's line of reasoning regarding .gov domain:
- Top-level web domains are one thing but in saying that there are t0o many subsites/microsites is another. What does this mean? Are we talking sub-sites inside a focused site like this mentioned at the beginning of the blog post OR sub-sites on any web domain?
- What exactly is a sub-site? A focused area of a large site, often beginning with the name or a subdirectory or all sites that begin with something other than the top-level domain? Is Chronicling America a sub-site at Chronicling.loc.gov? What about Travel.state.gov or Jobs.Faa.gov?
- The White House should know that sub-sites (no matter the definition) CAN be a useful way to organize a lot of focused information and then have an easy URL to share with others and market the content. Yes, of course, it’s also possible to go overboard but have info organization and info architecture been considered?
- If old sites are to be taken offline have they been archived properly and are URLs going to be redirected to where the material is being archived? What does the White House have to say about the long term preservation of government web sites and making it easy for researchers to access? NARA does conduct web harvests (using Internet Archive technology). Are the harvests large enough? Are they being promoted properly? Learn more about the harvests at: http://www.webharvest.gov (is this top-level domain necessary? (-:
Our point here is not to say that what’s being discussed is 100% wrong but rather if considerations about many issues (several noted above) are in place about how to proceed going forward?
More from the White House blog post:
As the President points out in this video, our government doesn’t need a website dedicated to foresters who play the fiddle. We also don’t need multiple sites dealing with invasive plants (here and here). And I‘m pretty sure the website dedicated to the Centennial of Flight can come down… particularly since the Centennial was in 2003.
Today, there are nearly 2,000 top-level federal .gov domains (this means a top-level url, [WEBSITENAME].gov, that links to a distinct website). This includes WhiteHouse.gov, as well as others like USDA.gov, USASpending.gov, NOAA.gov and USA.gov. Under many of these domains are smaller sub-sites and microsites resulting in an estimated 24,000 websites of varying purpose, design, navigation, usability, and accessibility.
While many government websites each deliver value to the taxpayer through easy-to-use services and information, an overall online landscape of literally thousands of websites – each focusing on a specific topic or organization – can create confusion and inefficiency.
In addition to confusing the public, duplicate and unnecessary websites also waste money. And while the costs for some of these websites may be relatively small, as President Obama also said in the video, ”No amount of waste is acceptable. Not when it’s your money, not at a time when so many families are already cutting back.”
So the federal government will do more with less, improving how it delivers information and services to the public by reducing the number of websites it maintains. To help drive this change we’ve set a specific goal that over the next year, we’ll get rid of at least half of them.
Watch the video in which President Obama talks about his campaign to cut waste:
[Thanks to Gary Price at InfoDocket for the tip!]
I'm sure all you policy wonks are itching to hear President Obama's second State of the Union address (SOTU) tonight (9PM EST / 6PM PST). There has been plenty of news coverage prognosticating about what Obama will talk about. WI Representative Paul Ryan is scheduled to give the Republican response to Obama's SOTU.
If you're REALLY wonky, you'll definitely want to tune in to Sunlight Live where you'll get the CSPAN live video, live real time blogging with Sunlight Foundation, Huffington Post, Center for Public Integrity, National Journal and CQ Roll Call, government transparency data and twitter coverage all wrapped into one page!
Sunlight's coverage will begin 30 minutes before SOTU starts. Thanks Sunlight!
Tomorrow (Tuesday, September 8th, at 12:00 PM EST) President Obama will give a speech to the nation's children in Arlington, VA encouraging students to take personal responsibility for their education. The White House has released the speech early because of some controversy raised by conservatives accusing the president of "trying to indoctrinate their children with socialist ideas." As you can see by the tag cloud below, the President's speech is about education, responsibility and school, nothing more.
Yesterday, President Obama issued orders to halt the pending Guantanamo trials for 120 days. This would temporarily stop the proceedings of the remaining twenty-one cases. Obama has guaranteed that he will close the Guantanamo prison camp. As the trials will be suspended until May 20, the new administration would have some time to assess the cases. At present, there are 245 foreign prisoners held at the prison camp. If you like to read the full article, it is available in The New York Times.
Recently, Human Rights Watch “called upon the new administration to ensure the rights of detainees at Guantanamo who have been slated for release but who cannot be returned home for fear of torture or persecution.” In November 2008, the organization published a briefing paper, Fighting Terrorism Fairly and Effectively: Recommendations for President-Elect Barack Obama, which outlined eleven steps that the new administration should take to change the counterterrorism practices of the United States.
Barack Obama has been sworn in as the 44th President of the United States! The Web is abuzz with energy ad hope. Below is a tag cloud of Obama's inauguration speech. Let's hope that this positive energy transfers into our own community and spurs libraries on to do better things, build better collections, and better serve our readers.
(Update 7PM PST: I updated the tag cloud without the term "applause." Thanks for the commenter who pointed that out. JRJ)
Today, Barack Obama was sworn in the 44th President of the United States. The White House has a new website now and it is expected that this will serve as a place for “online engagement” with American citizens and the global community. It has been stated that the efforts of the new media will focus on a) Communication b) Transparency and c) Participation
Those who wish to know more about the economy, national security, etc. can get information and updates from the briefing room. They can subscribe to the WhiteHouse.gov blog or get e-mail updates. President Obama has pledged that he will publish “executive orders and proclamations for everyone to review, and that’s just the beginning of [his] efforts to provide a window for all Americans into the business of the government.” The President’s policy priorities are available online. He has also promised to ensure that American citizens participate in the work of the new administration. The White House is inviting comments, concerns, questions, etc. If you have any, please use this form online. Now is your chance!
Personally, I am very happy to witness one of the most significant turning points and a new chapter in American history – the inauguration of the nation’s first African-American President. Today, the United States has really upheld the values of democracy and freedom.