Tuesday, September 25, 2007

We Need a Communications Czar

One of the issues that web content managers have faced for years is that there is no “content” advocate at OMB to help sort through the policy challenges we encounter trying to manage these huge communications vehicles (websites), effectively. The general content policies that exist have come through the technology Offices. While they are helpful, they don’t go far enough to ensure the excellence that U.S. citizens deserve. Content and technology are different beasts. They need different shepherds. We need a Director of Communications Policy at OMB.

We need someone at the top who is looking across government, at all the ways we communicate with the public (web, telephone, publications, etc..), and developing policies that ensure we’re providing consistent information and services in ways that audiences can use it. The technology folks are working hard to make sure the “how” is effective. But who is looking governmentwide to make sure the “what” is effective?

Right now, web content managers use “best practices” and critical mass to institutionalize cross-government web management procedures. Some argue that this is appropriate, within the grassroots culture of the internet. But we’re talking about the government here. We’re talking about public service. Shouldn’t our content be consistent, no matter how it is delivered and no matter which agency(ies) provide it? Shouldn’t our services be communicated effectively, so citizens can use them easily? Even the best oven won’t make a lousy cake taste good. Even the best technology won’t make lousy content serve citizens effectively. We need more than evolution and critical mass to ensure that the government (collectively) communicates well with the people we serve. We need a communications policy chief at the table.

It’s time. It’s needed.

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