Procedure: EPA Public Web Snapshots
This procedure describes the requirement of capturing a complete copy (or "snapshot") of all EPA public web content whenever a Presidential transition occurs. These snapshots are static copies of EPA public web content from a specific moment in time and are linked from the public snapshot collection. This procedure includes a high-level overview of the process of capturing the content, necessary steps to ensure the content works properly in the new location, and other pertinent directions.
This procedure does not apply to social media.
- Required Steps
- See Also
- Related Governance Documents
- Full Metadata about this Procedure
Capturing a static copy of EPA public web content and files provides the public with an easily accessible and searchable collection of information from a specific moment in time. Providing these snapshots increases transparency on changes made and information about key environmental topics, data, and policies, particularly if there is a new Administration.
EPA public web content: Publicly accessible servers and websites hosted at OMS-approved hosting service provider(s). These websites use the epa.gov domain and provide 24x7 access to EPA’s public information.
National Program Manager (NPM): The owner/developer of a public EPA application that resides elsewhere on epa.gov (e.g., not www). NPMs manage applications like Energy Star, ECHO, CDX, etc. NPM does not refer to Editor-in-chief (EIC) of content in the Public Access (Drupal) WebCMS.
Snapshot: A static copy of EPA public web content from a specific moment in time, usually on or around January 20th, Inauguration Day. Snapshots help preserve information across administrations; they are not official records.
Third-party snapshots: Services exist that can archive your site or application, including the Internet Archive. Each site and application owner must vet such third-party services for completeness.
www.epa.gov: The EPA flagship website that provides publicly accessible data and information. This application is one of many public applications and web sites that EPA maintains.
Each National Program Manager is required to create snapshots of their web properties before every Presidential inauguration. There are many technical options for generating snapshots. Your office should select the snapshot solution that works best for your web properties.
A high-quality snapshot helps ensure that the American Public and EPA staff can easily access historical information that may change across administrations. Since each office manages its own web properties, each office must do its part to make snapshots available.
Each snapshot must be available within two months of a Presidential Transition.
Some Technical Options for Generating Snapshots
This list is not meant to be comprehensive.
- Submit your site URL to the Internet Archive via the End of Term (EOT) archive. Note, it is not clear if this project is still active.
- Contract with a third-party archiving solution.
- Build your own, following a rough process like the one outlined below.
- Extract your database and archive it, along with instructions for reading or resurrecting it.
- First clean the database of any PII and sensitive information, like passwords.
- You could possibly store this data on EPA's Go Anywhere FTP service or Github.
- Extracting a database would save the trouble of saving every HTML page, which can be particularly challenging for dynamic applications.
The Office of Mission Support (OMS) manages snapshots for the Public Access (Drupal) WebCMS, for www.epa.gov and espanol.epa.gov. If you have content on www or espanol, and nowhere else, your content is covered by this OMS snapshot.
The following steps demonstrate the snapshot process for www.epa.gov and espanol.epa.gov web applications. The process for other websites and applications may vary depending on the content, but this process can be applied for other applications.
A copy of the publicly available (pages that are published) web content from the www.epa.gov and espanol.epa.gov databases are extracted every four years on January 19, just prior to the US Inauguration. Static HTML files are generated from this database content; copies of images, documents, and other media files are also saved.
The steps below are followed to prepare the content for copying and extraction:
- Disable all forms (such as contact us forms), instead linking to a page with an explanation of why the public cannot submit information from the snapshot collection. See an example of this type of page.
- Transform links so that snapshotted content links to other snapshotted content, instead of back out to the live site.
- Centralize common assets like CSS files, page elements (header/footer), etc., so they can be changed globally if needed.
- Add a banner to every static HTML page. This banner includes text indicating this snapshot is not the current website, that the content is no longer maintained, and that links may break, as well as a link to the current website.
- Translate banner text for the snapshot collection of alternate languages content.
- Include a "Site Exit" alert on all external links which tells users they are leaving the snapshot island.
There are no exemptions to this procedure, which applies to all EPA public web content. Every National Program Manager must snapshot all of its public web sites and applications.
Name EPA Public Web Snapshot
Required or Recommended Required
Effective date 5/10/2023
Date approved 5/10/2023
Web Council review by 5/10/2026 (or earlier if deemed necessary by the Web Council)
Governing Policy Web Governance and Management