Our goal as federal employees is to serve our fellow Americans and help them obtain the information and services that are most important to them. One of the prominent ways we do this is through the World Wide Web. Whether it’s providing a venue for the public to submit innovative ideas to our President for the benefit of the Nation, applying for financial aid to fulfill our dreams of going to college, or just simply looking to see a list of safe medical devices, it’s all on the Web.
The question is, how does one find all of the online resources the federal government provides? We spend millions, if not billions, of dollars creating high quality content and applications to serve our fellow Americans, but they aren’t always easy to find.
One way I think we can help people find what they are looking for is through interagency Teamwork on the Web.
As an employee of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), I’ve seen some of the searches on FDA.gov are not really within the realm of what our agency covers. For example, visitors may be looking for side effects on drugs or when to use them. The word “Drug” is in our agency name, but it’s because we regulate drugs. Certainly, we will have information on which drugs such as what is approved or safe, however, for the most part it is restricted to regulatory affairs. The NIH, which is part of the same department as the FDA (Health and Human Services) is where visitors can find information such as side effects or uses. As a member of the general public, it’s likely I would not have known that. I think agencies, especially those within the same department, should work together to provide a complete set of information. Not just limited to regulatory information or side effects of a drug, but everything.
In other words, say if a person types in “acetaminophen” in the NIH search. They will find side effects, uses, and similar information. However, they will not find information on regulation of acetaminophen. In this case, NIH should link to the FDA page for acetaminophen. And the same the other way around. If acetaminophen is typed into the FDA search, there should be a link to NIH’s page.
I feel as this would be very beneficial to all agencies that, at least in the publics eyes, have similar missions. For example, FDA, NIH, CDC, and others in HHS protecting our Health or FBI, CIA, NSA, Homeland, working toward our Nation’s safety.