Dec 31 2009

Get Site-savvy Tips From .gov Winners

Need pointers on serving up content that’s perfectly suited to your Web site’s target visitors? Then check out four sites that get the nod from government Web managers.

For general audiences:

  • Food Safety and Inspection Service portal at — provides safety and health information to the public.
  • NASA portal at — promotes exploration through interactive media, live mission coverage and regular features.

For specialized audiences:

  • NASA’s Employee Orientation Program site at — gives new hires consistent information no matter where they work across the country and reduces costs for processing and training.
  •— offers federal Web managers tools to improve the usability of their Web sites and make information more readily available to the public.

This fall, the Interagency Web Content Managers Forum honored the sites with their Best Practices Peer Awards — selected from 55 nominees. By spotlighting these sites, the awards “identify and recognize best practices and innovation that agencies can replicate so we improve all government Web sites,” says Martha Dorris, deputy associate administrator for citizen services at the General Services Administration.

A Pretty Penny

$97 to $4,000: That’s the gamut that an agency can expect to spend for a background check to verify and validate system and building access privileges before issuing a federal employee or contractor an identification card for the HSPD-12 program.

2.3 million: The civilian employee population, spread across 9,000 cities, with one-third located in or near Washington.

Oct. 27, 2008: The date by which agencies must have completed all background checks and issued all cards.

Off the Shelf/Recommended Reading

BY WHOM: Robert Shea, Counsel to the Office of Management and Budget’s Deputy Director of Management

REPORT: “Performance Accountability: The Five Building Blocks and Six Essential Practices” by the University of Maryland’s Shelley H. Metzenbaum for the IBM Center for the Business of Government

WHY: “Setting goals, measuring our performance and sharing information about what’s working and what’s not are key to achieving the shared goals of multiple agencies, programs and partners.”

WHAT IT OFFERS: The 76-page report identifies five basics of fostering accountability based on performance: clear, measurable goals; measurement to motivate, illuminate and communicate; verbal feedback to unleash the power of goals and measures; interactive inquiry; and cautious use of externally provided incentives. Metzenbaum also fleshes out six corresponding best practices: emphasizing outcomes by using specific targets; measurement mastery; delivering feedback; assuring an ongoing venue for interactive inquiry; cogent strategies; and implementation.


Interoperability of People,

Not Just Systems

Typically, the term “interoperable” refers to whether or not two or more systems can interact and easily share files. But at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, interoperable now applies to people, too.

DNI is establishing a new policy that will make it a requisite for anyone seeking a senior executive post to have participated in a multiagency operation. Simply put, “you’re not getting there unless you’ve had some joint experience,” says DNI deputy CIO Michele R. Weslander.

This will greatly improve the interoperability of people, she says. There’s also an IT side to this initiative. The intelligence organization will improve the human resources systems that intelligence community agencies use to ease the transfer of people from one agency assignment to another. As with other efforts under the DNI umbrella, this one involves creating a central personnel system to serve multiple agencies, Weslander says.

This hiring requirement will ensure that senior officials will be able to work quicker and smarter when assigned to a joint operation, and it will make moving folks from one assignment to another easier because people will have a broader range of knowledge than just what they’ve learned from their agency, Weslander says.

By the Numbers/Wireless for All

WHAT: Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative for Wireless

VALUE: $1 billion

PURPOSE: Create a commodity procurement vehicle for all agencies to buy and use wireless services.

SCOPE: Early procurement documents ask about the time needed to set up a managed service for six service levels: 5,000 devices, 10,000 devices, 25,000 devices, 50,000 devices, 100,000 devices and 200,000 devices.

BIG DATES AHEAD: Solicitation before end of 2007; award before April 2007.

WHY IT MATTERS: One of the first major FSSI deals spearheaded by the General Services Administration and the Treasury Department. Current wireless buying fragmented across government.