Obama Knocks Unneeded Government Websites, Enacts Freeze

Vice president Joe Biden will lead governmentwide campaign to cut unnecessary and wasteful spending on websites.

by / June 13, 2011

Did you know there’s an “official old-time string band of the U.S. Forest Service”? For years, the ensemble of forest rangers had an official .gov website funded by taxpayers.

Not anymore. All that’s left of www.fiddlinforesters.gov is a dead link.

“I’ll put their music on my iPod but I’m not paying for their website,” President Barack Obama quipped Monday in an online video announcing a governmentwide campaign to cut unnecessary and stupid spending. Vice President Joe Biden will lead the effort.

Hundreds of top-level websites could be consolidated or discontinued altogether, Obama said.

According to a WhiteHouse.gov blog post, the administration has enacted a freeze on all new .gov URLs. Getting a new address will require written approval from federal CIO Vivek Kundra. Agencies will be required to inventory all the URLs they maintain. A task force will also consider if and how government websites should be standardized in design and presentation.

The White House estimated there are 2,000 top-level .gov domains and 24,000 smaller sub-sites. Officials admitted that the cost of maintaining each of these websites is small one by one, but the savings will add up.

Technology will apparently be playing a major role in identifying wasteful spending. Biden alluded to “new, sophisticated methods” that will be used. An Office of Management and Budget memo sent to agencies on Monday, instructs them to plan for e-government programs that deliver services online and through mobile devices. The goal is to get each agency to develop a “signature" initiative that uses technology to improve customer service.

The U.S. deficit is $14.3 trillion, a burden that will require tough choices when deciding how to cut government programs.

“But what should be easy is getting rid of the pointless waste and stupid spending that doesn’t benefit anybody — waste we should be getting rid of even if we didn’t have a deficit,” Obama said.

As for the Fiddlin’ Foresters, the band will have to find a new place to sell its music.
Video: Fiddlin' Foresters


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