This spring, President Obama signed Executive Order 13571, “Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service,” which requires federal agencies to strengthen customer service, specifically the manner in which they deliver services and information via the web.
As part of the president’s Campaign to Cut Waste, the effort is designed to eliminate or consolidate redundant websites and improve websites that are outdated, difficult to use, or poorly maintained. The desired outcome? Taxpayer money will be saved AND citizens will have an easier access to the content they need.
The .gov Task Force, which was formed in July 2011, now has the difficult task of paring down at least 25% of the more than 24,000 federal government websites in existence today. While the task force is planning to seek qualitative feedback from the public on which sites to cut, it has yet to establish criteria on which it will base its final decision. It is important for the task force to base its decision on the right mix of quantified data (both behavioral and attitudinal) in order to make uniform decisions across the board.
As the government begins the arduous and important decisions of deciding which websites are eliminated and which are consolidated, three critical components must be in play:
- The volume of traffic on the website and other critical behavioral metrics
- Information redundancy
- The website’s value to the citizens who regularly use it.
Web traffic alone isn’t enough to justify to cutting a website because that site may contain valuable, highly targeted content that isn’t available anywhere else. Considering whether the site duplicates content is another important consideration, but determining overlaps will be long and arduous with 24,000 sites, or even just with the roughly 1700 federal domains. Therefore, an assessment of the quality and value of the specific sites to citizens is a critical component to determining whether a site is necessary.
Right now, more than 230 federal websites work with us to measure, monitor, and improve citizen satisfaction, and the ACSI methodology that we use to power our technology has been the standard metric for e-gov sites since 2003. We’ve collected more than 7 million surveys from visitors to federal websites since 2001, including more than 4 million since President Obama’s 2009 inauguration. There is data available on many sites that could guide these kinds of decisions, and certainly any or all of the 1700 .gov domains or the 24,000 federal websites in existence today could be measuring the citizen experience as one mark of success.
We released the second quarter ACSI E-Government Satisfaction and Transparency Index yesterday, with satisfaction scores for more than 100 federal websites and transparency scores for more than 30 websites. You can get it on our website for free and see that there is a compelling case to be made that not only can federal websites be an efficient, cost-effective means of the government meeting its citizenry’s needs, but that the means to evaluate, consolidate and improve them are already available. We’re also hosting a free webinar to look into the ACSI E-Gov Index Q2 results in more depth… we’d love to have you join us and ask any questions that you may have.
In the meantime, are there other criteria you think the .gov task force should be using to consolidate and pare down websites? Leave your thoughts in the comments.