Procedure: Web Content Types and Review

Brief Description

(see the full document below for details)

EPA's website is a fundamental communication tool for every Agency program and Region. With the fast-paced growth of EPA's website, effective management of information is essential. Distinguishing content types and identifying appropriate review schedules are critical to keeping the website current and up-to-date. Otherwise, Web visitors may have difficulty locating information or determining what information accurately describes current EPA policy decisions and activities.

This procedure is applicable to all EPA Web content accessible to the public, regardless of where it is located (i.e., on EPA static and dynamic servers or at any other location on the World Wide Web that hosts EPA content) except that it does not apply to the Office of Inspector General (OIG) web content or any content required to be posted by regulation. For purposes of this procedure, "website" or "Web pages" are used interchangeably. This procedure does not replace existing legal responsibilities and policies including records management requirements.

On this page:


Definitions

  • Content, for the purpose of this procedure, is EPA data, documents, text, graphics or other information, that is accessible to the public and published either on EPA's website or elsewhere on the World Wide Web.
  • Content owners or providers are EPA employees who create, manage, own or are otherwise responsible for the content posted on a Web page. A content owner or provider must assign all Web content a content type and must keep the content current, or otherwise handle it as described in this procedure.
  • Content review is the process of determining whether content is still current, outdated, or obsolete.
  • Current refers to content on the EPA website that reflects EPA's most recent policy, regulations, programmatic activities and responsibilities. Some content remains ‘current,' in that it continues to reflect EPA's most recent decisions and activities, including information pertaining to activities that have been completed or closed out, despite the significant amount of time that may have passed since its original publication date.
  • Obsolete refers to content on the EPA website that no longer reflects current EPA policy, responsibilities and programmatic activities, and is not useful or relevant to the public. This information includes ephemeral information about short-lived announcements and activities.
  • Outdated refers to content on the EPA website that was created in the past, and may or may not reflect current EPA policy, responsibilities and programmatic activities, but that is still useful to the public as reference or background information. It includes regulations, guidance and policies that are no longer used or enforced, or that have been superseded by more recently released decisions. Such information often provides invaluable historical context to current decisions, requirements and activities. For purposes of this procedure, such information is not considered to be obsolete or useless.
  • Republish a Web page once again using the same content with a new date. The Web CMS system will automatically assign a new date for the next content review.
  • Retire is the action of removing a Web page from the website by either physically removing the page or, in Web CMS, expiring or otherwise deleting a file.
  • Validate is the process of confirming the accuracy of the content.
  • Web Content Management System (Web CMS) is a software application within which Web content is created, managed, and published. It provides structure to what is otherwise "unstructured content," and that structure enables content development, integration and reuse. Web CMS automates many of the functions and procedures that, when performed manually, incur a large labor burden and consequently often go undone. This includes functions such as metadata tagging, workflow management, and content lifecycle review. Web CMS-managed content enables integration of cross-office topical sites, and provides better search options based on the used of metadata and a repository to dynamically create the Web pages. It is also much more easily rendered in multiple formats, e.g., Web, XML, mobile device-friendly, or PDF for print.

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Required Steps

EPA Web content owners and providers are ultimately responsible for the content they publish. Content on the EPA website should be current and maintained using the Web Content Types and Review Schedule (table 1) and the Web Content Review Actions (table 2) tables. The content type will determine how often the content must be reviewed. As a reminder when creating or maintaining content, sensitive or confidential information is not permitted on EPA.gov. For more information, refer to FIPS 199, Standards for Security Categorization of Federal Information and Information Systems.

Outdated content should be updated or identified as outdated. Obsolete content must be removed. OEAEE may notify a content owner about outdated or obsolete content for which the owner is responsible. If that content is not updated, identified as outdated, or removed, as appropriate, within three months from the date of notification, OEAEE will ask OEI to remove the content from the public access server. In the case of outdated pages, OEI and OEAEE will work with OIG to resolve any concerns but OEI and OEAEE cannot take OIG pages down due to the OIG's statutory independence.

Steps for efficiently maintaining web content

Step 1: At content creation (new Web pages) or when reviewing existing content that has not had a content type assigned, assign Web content one of the following content types, described in the Web Content Types and Review Schedule table below. Each content type has an associated review schedule; depending on the content type, content will be reviewed either quarterly (i.e., every three months), annually, or every three years.

Web Content Types and Review Schedule

Definition Content Type Review Schedule
News, News releases, Calendars, Comment schedules, Meeting Agendas, Requests for Proposals, job announcements, etc. Announcements & Schedules 3 months
Lists of links, bibliographies, recommended resource lists, hubs, etc. Collections & Lists Year
A list of the addresses, phone/FAX numbers, and affiliations of a specific individual, group of people, companies, organizations, publications, etc., including additional information such as professional titles or credentials. Contact Information 3 months
Models, Methods, Maps, Data Files, Databases, Glossaries, Software, Tutorials, etc. Data & Tools Year
Fact sheets, Frequent Questions pages, Basic Info pages, etc. Overviews & Fact Sheets Year
Internal and external policies, guidance and guidelines related to agency operations and/or regulatory compliance & enforcement. Includes proposed rules, MOUs, Judicial Decisions, International Agreements, etc. Policies & Guidance Year
In-depth information, toxicity assessments, budgets, strategic plans, conference proceedings, etc. Reports & Assessments 3 years
A written record of dictated or recorded speech. Includes correspondence. Speeches, Testimony & Transcripts

3 years

Step 2: When the content, based on the content type, is due for review at the end of each quarter, year, or three years, the content owner or reviewer must review it. Reviews should be done sooner if it otherwise becomes apparent that the content has changed or is inaccurate. For content in the Web Content Management System (Web CMS), the system will automatically send the content owner or provider an e-mail notification alerting him or her to the content's impending review deadline. Use the Web Content Review Actions table below to select the action to take following your review of the Web content. Refer to Section 9 for definitions of terms used in table.

Web Content Review Actions

If the content... the content is... and you should...
reflects current EPA decisions and activities, regardless of when the information was originally created and published,

Note: There are many years-old regulations, policies and programmatic descriptions posted on EPA's site that are still accurate and have not been superseded by more recent information.
current validate, supplement if necessary or desired, and republish the content.
can be updated to accurately reflect the Agency's most recent policy decisions, programs or activities, outdated validate, update and republish the content.
does not reflect current EPA policy decisions, programs or activities, but still provides information that is of use for research purposes outdated keep the content on the public access website for historical reference purposes. Apply the outdated page disclaimer and image. Once content is designated as outdated, the review cycle for content is every three years regardless of content type specified.
Note that the disclaimer and image are not required to be displayed for content in PDF format.
does not reflect current EPA policy decisions, programs or activities, or if it has been superseded, obsolete remove/retire the content, since it is no longer useful or relevant. In Web CMS, retired content will be removed from the website, but a copy is kept in the repository. If the page is not a Web CMS application, determine if the content needs to be maintained as a record according to the EPA Records Schedule 095.

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Rationale

EPA's website is a fundamental communication tool for every Agency program and Region. With the fast-paced growth of EPA's website, effective management of information is essential. Distinguishing content types and identifying appropriate review schedules are critical to keeping the website current and up-to-date. Otherwise, Web visitors may have difficulty locating information or determining what information accurately describes current EPA policy decisions and activities.

Exemptions

There are no exemptions from this procedure. EPA content must be kept current as per OMB.

See Also

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Related Governance Documents

EPA

Related Policies

  • None

Related Procedures

  • None

Related Standards

  • None

Related Guidance

  • None

Non-EPA

Other Information

This procedures supersedes CIO 2183.0 Policy (formerly 2190.8) Access to Current and Outdated Information on EPA's Web Site.

Full Metadata about this standard

Name Web Content Types and Review Procedure
Type Procedure
Required or Recommended Required 
Effective date 
Date approved 03/17/2011
Category Writing and Style
Web Council review by 03/17/2013 (or earlier if deemed necessary by the Web Council) 
Governing Policy Web Governance and Management (PDF)Intranet(5 pp, 339K, About PDF)

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