Improving EPA's Website (2002 Memo)

MEMORANDUM

To: Assistant Administrators, Regional Administrators, General Counsel, Inspector General, Chief Financial Officer, Associate Administrators

From: Administrator Whitman

Subject: Improving EPA's Website

Date: January 11, 2002

EPA's Web site is now the Agency's most effective communication medium, providing information to the public and other external stakeholders 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, our site presents many different "faces" of the Agency to our visitors. With as many as 300 distinct sites, these differences often make it difficult for visitors to find the information they need or perform the tasks they need to accomplish. Inconsistencies also dilute the Agency's brand recognition.

I have identified two initiatives to help resolve these issues, and I am anxious that these changes be implemented as quickly as possible. To that end, it is essential that you dedicate the resources necessary to complete these tasks. In particular, it may be necessary to strengthen your communications and public affairs staff to perform the cross-agency coordination and content review aspects of this work.

1) Reviewing and Redesigning the EPA Web Site

The Office of Information and Special Initiatives and the Office of Environmental Information have created a new design that will be used across the entire current Web site including all office and regional pages. To benefit from this new look, please convert your top-level pages (e.g., regional and office home pages) to this new design by January 2002 and convert all other Web materials by June 2002. As you implement the new design, also review your Web materials for consistency with EPA Web policies (e.g., privacy and external links) as well as remove outdated and otherwise unnecessary information. The Office of Information and Special Initiatives and the Office of Environmental Information have developed guidance for this process and conducted training sessions at the EPA Web Workgroup meeting on December 11-12, 2001.

2) Organizing Our Information by Topic

Currently, much of our Web site is managed according to the structure of individual offices and regions. This causes several problems: 1) unnecessary duplication of effort, 2) inconsistent or incomplete information, and 3) difficulty in finding information because most of our visitors do not know the Agency's organizational structure.

Managing and presenting information by environmental topics will alleviate these problems. Moving to this topics-based approach will require extensive and regular cross-agency coordination. In many ways, this is a new way of doing business, but I believe that breaking down the "silos" that exist in the Agency will enable us to communicate EPA's important messages more effectively. I have asked the Office of Information and Special Initiatives and the Office of Environmental Information to present an implementation plan to me by April 2002. They will rely on your offices, the Quality Information Council, and the Web Workgroup to develop the plan. Additional information will be provided as this initiative progresses.

I deeply appreciate the cooperative and collegial manner in which many employees are working together to create our new Web site. Building on this high level of energy and collaboration will make it one of the top government sites in the nation.

For more information about these initiatives and their implementation, please contact Thomas Basile, Director of Communications, or Elaine Stanley, Director of OEI's Office of Information Analysis and Access. Guidance documents and materials are available in EPA's Web Guide.

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