Friday, July 8, 2011

Do we need an IT MOU?

At this week's Select Board meeting there was a discussion of a "draft" website content policy for use with the new town website.  This policy developed by the Town Manager was an attempt to jump start operation of the website and included responsibilities for a designated "webmaster" and as well as guidelines for allowing non-govt. "links" on the website.  Below is a videotape of this discussion (courtesy of LCTV). 

As you can see by watching the above video clip, the Select Board and Town Manager haven't got a clue as to how to operate an effective town government website.

While I would agree with Mr. Aseltine that the title “webmaster” is little outdated (maybe not with his exact quote: "not this millennium"), there are certainly reasons to have someone who is responsible for the overall content and appearance of the website, who provides guidelines to individual contributors on content requirements and style of writing and maintains various functions (including allowable links) for the website.  This person also develops and provides specifications for new features that will be added to the website.  A better title might be Site Manager rather than Webmaster.

Mr. Aseltine believes that "distributed management" is a much better model to operate the website than a Site Manager or webmaster approach.  I say that the current website condition is proof enough that this model will not work very well. Distributed management means no one has overall accountability for the operation and performance of the website.

Kevin Warenda, the town's IT Director has stated that the town website development is now complete... including some "limited" employee training for posting of information on the website.  As far as Mr. Warenda is concerned, developing and maintaining content for the town website is not an IT function... this responsibility belongs to town government. 

Where does the town website go from here?  

It's looking more and more like there is need for another MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) between Town Government and the School Dept to work out the responsibilities for operation of the town website.  Let's hope not... it took more than 5 years (+ many long hours of effort) to develop the recently approved MOU for maintenance.

We are now approaching the one year anniversary of the town website reorganization.  Let's hope that Longmeadow residents do not have to wait too much longer to get the town website functioning at expected level. 

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