Procedure: Web Content Types and Review
(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. Otherwise, web visitors may have difficulty locating information or determining what information accurately describes current EPA information or requirements.
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 that hosts EPA content). For purposes of this procedure, "website" or "webpages" are used interchangeably. This procedure does not replace existing legal responsibilities and policies including records management requirements.
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- Required steps
- See also
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- Full metadata about this standard
- 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 electronically.
- Content owners or providers are EPA employees who create, manage, own or are otherwise responsible for the content posted on a webpage. A content owner or provider must assign all webpages 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- Content review is the process of determining whether content is still current, outdated, or obsolete.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 (A) no longer reflects current EPA policy, responsibilities and programmatic activities, and (B) is not useful or relevant to the public. This information includes ephemeral information about short-lived announcements and activities or could include presentations and/or meeting agendas.
- Outdated refers to content on the EPA website that (A) was created in the past, and may or may not reflect current EPA policy, responsibilities and programmatic activities, but (B) is still useful to the public as reference or background information. For example, guidance and policies that are no longer used or enforced, or that have been superseded by more recently released decisions. Presentations or meeting agendas could also be considered "outdated." 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 refers to the process of making a webpage publicly available again using the same content with a new date. The WebCMS system will automatically assign a new date for the next content review.
- Retire is the action of removing a webpage from the website by either deleting or unpublishing the content.
- Validate is the process of confirming the accuracy of the content.
- Web Content Management System (WebCMS) is a software application within which www and español content is created, managed, and published. It provides structure to what is otherwise "unstructured content," and that structure enables content development, integration and reuse. WebCMS 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 use of metadata and a repository to dynamically create the webpages. It is also much more easily rendered in multiple formats, e.g., Web, XML, mobile device-friendly, or PDF for print.
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 validated. 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 validated and updated or retired. Obsolete content must be retired and removed from the website. OPA may notify a content owner about outdated or obsolete content for which the owner is responsible. If that content is not updated or retired, as appropriate, within three months from the date of notification, OPA will ask OMS to remove the content from the public access server. In the case of outdated pages, OMS and OPA will work with OIG to resolve any concerns but OMS and OPA cannot take OIG pages down due to the OIG's statutory independence.
Steps for efficiently maintaining web content
Step 1: At content creation (new webpages) or when reviewing existing content that has not had type assigned, assign web content one of the following types, described in the Web Content Types and Review Schedule table below. Each type has an associated review schedule; depending on the type, content will be reviewed either quarterly (i.e., every three months) or annually. Applying the wrong type to gain a longer review cycle is a violation of this procedure.
|Definition||Content Type||Review Schedule|
|News, 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||1 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, Applications, etc.||Data & Tools||1 Year|
|Fact sheets, Frequent Questions pages, Basic Information pages, etc.||Overviews & Fact Sheets||1 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||1 Year|
|In-depth information, toxicity assessments, budgets, strategic plans, conference proceedings, etc.||Reports & Assessments||1 year|
|A written record of dictated or recorded speech, public notices, correspondence, commentaries, and issued news releases.||Speeches, Testimony & Transcripts||
Step 2: When the content, based on the type, is due for review at the end of each quarter or one year, the content owner or reviewer must review it. Reviews should be done sooner if it becomes otherwise apparent that the content has changed or is inaccurate. For content in the WebCMS, the system will automatically send the content owner 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.
|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 website that are still accurate and have not been superseded by more recent information.
|current||Review, supplement if necessary or desired, and republish the content.|
|can be updated to accurately reflect the Agency's more recent policy decisions, programs or activities by the Agency,||outdated||Review, update as needed and republish the content.|
|does not reflect current EPA policy decisions, programs or activities, but provides information that is of use for research purposes||outdated||
Review the content and determine whether it can be added to an existing webpage to add historical context or supplemental information
If the outdated information is not providing key information, the webpage should be retired, as it is no longer useful or relevant to your audience.
|does not reflect current EPA policy decisions, programs or activities, or if it has been superseded,||obsolete||
Remove or retire the content, since it is no longer useful or relevant. In the WebCMS, if a webpage is unpublished a copy will remain in the WebCMS. If the content is deleted, the content will no longer be accessible on any platform.
Note: Determine if the content needs to be maintained as a record according to the EPA Records Schedule 095 and take the appropriate action. Learn how to export your WebCMS content and save as a record.
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. Otherwise, web visitors may have difficulty locating information or determining what information accurately describes current EPA policy decisions and activities. In addition, OMB Policy m-17-06 (pdf) states (11) Agencies Ensure Information Quality and Accuracy. "Agencies must include reasonable management controls and establish a review process to ensure that information provided online, and links to any external information, provide a suitable level of information quality as implied by the agency linking to or referencing it from their official website."
There are no exemptions from this procedure. EPA web content must be kept current as per OMB Policy M-17-06 (pdf).
- Linda A. Travers and Seth Oster Memorandum, "Restructuring EPA's Web Site," April 15, 2010
- Molly A. O'Neill and Lisa Lybbert Memorandum, "Improving EPA's Public Access Web Site," April 14, 2008
- Your Records Liaison Officer can help you to determine the most appropriate methods to capture and maintain records. For additional guidance, call the Records Help Desk.
- "Policies for Federal Agency Public Websites and Digital Services (pdf)," November 8, 2016.
- FIPS 199, "Standards for Security Categorization of Federal Information and Information Systems," February 2004
This procedures supersedes CIO 2183.0 Policy (formerly 2190.8) Access to Current and Outdated Information on EPA's website.
Name Web Content Types and Review Procedure
Required or Recommended Required
Date approved 10/13/2021
Category Writing and Style
Web Council review by 10/13/2024 (or earlier if deemed necessary by the Web Council)
Governing Policy Web Governance and Management