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The White House website crackdown


The Obama administration wants to get tough on spending and eliminate waste, fraud and abuse across the vast bureaucratic steppes we call the federal government. So how's it going to do that? Eliminate one leg of the nuclear triad? Close the American military bases in Europe? Decommission five aircraft carriers? Nope.

The White House announced Monday that the federal government has too many websites, and that it is henceforth forbidding the creation of new ones. Here was the word from the administration in its official notice:

As one of the campaign’s first steps, the Administration will be targeting duplication and waste among federal websites. There are almost 2,000 separate websites across the Federal Government. With so many separate sites, Americans often do not know where to turn for information. The Administration will immediately put a halt to the creation of new websites. The Administration will also shutdown or consolidate 25% of the 2000 sites over the next few months and set a goal of cutting the number of separate, stand alone sites in half over the next year.
Which agency has a lot of these sites? Why, the Defense Department, of course. The Pentagon stands up special websites all the time, including one for Secretary Gates' recent overseas trip, or the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, etc., etc. And then there's the services, which have sites on which you can pretend to fly a Reaper, or pretend to be a paratrooper, or check out the latest important updates involving the National Guard's NASCAR team.

And y'know who else also has a lot of websites? The intelligence community: You can try your hand at satellite image analysis on the CIA Kids' Page, for example; on the FBI site, you can follow the adventures of Special Agent Bobby Bureau; and who could forget the National Security Agency's team of lovable, anthropomorphic code-solving cartoon animals -- the Cryptokids! (It's not just defense and intelligence: the Department of Agriculture's kids' site teaches about the importance of food safety, and there've got to be dozens upon dozens more like these.)

Hey, you say, that stuff all sounds important! Or at least harmless. To its parent agencies, it probably is -- they've got stuff they want to say to the specific audiences they want to reach. But this is the new normal in Austerity Washington, where cuts and savings sound fine until the blade swings in your direction. The next question is, how much could DoD, the intelligence agencies or the federal government overall really save by eliminating the Cryptokids?

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