OMB issues new guidance for agencies’ web use

////OMB issues new guidance for agencies’ web use

OMB issues new guidance for agencies’ web use

OMB issued two memos to department heads on agencies’ use of websites and web technologies.  Peter Orzag, Director of OMB, told agencies that “the Federal Government has new opportunities to promote these commitments [to transparency, participation, and collaboration] by engaging with citizens, explaining what Federal agencies are doing, seeking public comments, and improving delivery of services.”  In a memo on the use of web measurement and customization technologies, agencies are given new procedures and updated guidance that allows the federal government to improve and modernize activities to collect information on users visiting government websites while respecting and safeguarding the public’s privacy.  Agencies can use technologies to measure, analyze, or customize user’s online interactions, but cannot track individual internet activity “outside of the website” or share with other agencies data obtained without the user’s express consent.  Agencies must also avoid web measurement and customization technologies that do not give users an easy opportunity to “opt-out.”  In addition, the new guidance limits data retention to the time necessary to achieve the objective of such collection and must restrict the availability of information to employees with demonstrated need.  In a second memo, Orzag issued guidance on the government’s use of third-party websites and applications.   OMB encourages agencies to utilize third-party websites (such as Facebook and Twitter), but advises agencies not to rely solely on third-party websites when making information available to the public.  They must provide alternatives, such as the agency website, and provide users with the agency e-mail addresses to solicit feedback.  OMB requires agencies to monitor and evaluate third-party privacy policies and ensure that appropriate privacy safeguards are in place.  Where feasible, the guidance directs agencies to post a privacy notice on the third-party site or application stating that the site is not government-sponsored.

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