HHS Web Governance Charter

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Website exists to empower our citizens, our business and service partners, and our employees.  It does so by providing information, services, and work processes.  Furthermore, the Website provides opportunities for effective, efficient, and timely involvement in their government so they can improve their lives, solve their problems, and accomplish their objectives. The Department’s Web presence plays an integral role in the overall HHS communications and outreach strategy.

The HHS Website is the Department's primary public interface. Its pages are a fundamental part of every Department program. Collectively, these pages lay the foundation for the Department’s outreach program. The site conveys and amplifies the Department’s mission, goals, and work. It provides both opportunity and obligation to present timely information, data, and interpretation to a globe-spanning audience. Increasingly, the HHS Website is the interactive tool-of-choice for the delivery of Department services to its many publics.

HHS web governance principles maximize the creative use of people, policy, and processes to manage short- and long-range goals, provide clarity, and resolve conflict across the Department.  These principles give a framework for seeing clear web management priorities and responsibilities.  They also help to identify and allocate necessary resources, promote Department-wide standards for best practices, and recognize and support the Department’s Web community.

HHS Web Guiding Principles

  • The HHS brands embody the Department’s promise to the public.  The HHS Web experience builds and connects those brands.
  • The organizational structure of the Department is transparent to the site visitor.
  • The HHS Web site is the Department's primary communications and educational outreach medium. The Web site communicates a full array of mission-centered information, including general information, program actions and activities, data, research, regulations, and educational materials.
  • The HHS Web site is a holistic information resource that results from active collaboration across traditional intra- and inter-division boundaries. Such ongoing collaboration, facilitated by technology, takes place without regard to organizational or personal ego.
  • The core responsibility of all Operating and Staff Divisions is to uphold the integrity and quality of Web content and communications to accomplish the overarching mission, work, and goals of the Department.
  • The Department is committed to meeting site visitors' expectations that content is up-to-date. Outdated content and repetitive content is reduced and ultimately eliminated.
  • HHS embraces the principles of e-government and encourages aggressive use of the Web to allow and encourage the electronic conduct of Department business.
  • The HHS Web site is committed to meeting and/or exceeding all applicable legal, ethical, accessibility, privacy, records retention, and security standards.

HHS Web Governance

  • HHS manages its Web activities through a representational, federated structure encompassing the Operating Divisions and the Office of the Secretary, with centralized guidance and support. This model will be mirrored at division levels.
  • The foundation of Web governance rests in a collegial environment, broad engagement, and the active exchange of ideas and best practices.
  • HHS recognizes that a supportive, creative working environment is vital to achieving and sustaining the goals established for the Department's Web site. Web governance supports and promotes visionary thinking, change, and innovation.
  • Ensuring quality content is a core responsibility of all Operating and Staff Divisions and is integral to the accomplishment and communication of both their and the Department's work and mission.
  • Consistency is a primary goal spanning the entire Departmental Web site, encompassing templates, navigation designs and terms, and content organization to the greatest extent possible.
  • The needs of the public drive Web design and content. Content is engaging, easy to find, up-to-date, and presented with sufficient context.
  • In meeting the public interest, the HHS Web site supports all major announcements, new initiatives, and topics in the public arena with relevant Web content.
  • The HHS Web site pledges to address the growing informational needs of a multi-lingual, multi-cultural population. The Web site also focuses on meeting the changing needs of an aging society.
  • HHS values visitor interaction and ensures timely and accurate responses to Department Web communications

Management Structure

The HHS Departmental Web site shall be managed through a Digital Council.

  • The Council reports, through ASPA, to the Secretary
  • Each Operating Division (Division) shall have two Representatives on the Council (two seats)
  • OS to be considered as one Division
  • Division Representation should balance Content and Infrastructure (technology and applications) responsibilities and experience
  • Representatives shall be named by the Division Assistant Secretary
  • Each seat shall have one vote
  • Each Representative may have one designated proxy
  • Seats represent all agencies/offices within Division plus topical sites for which Division has lead
  • The ASPA/DCD Director (or designee) shall chair the Council
  • The OCIO shall have a non-voting Representative on the Council
  • Divisions are encouraged but not required to emulate this structure for managing and communicating their internal governance
  • Council may form committees as needed
  • ASPA/DCD staff shall provide logistical support to the Digital Council including maintenance of inter/intranet presence
  • 75% constitutes quorum
  • 75% of quorum must be physically present (except virtual meetings)
  • Alternates permitted
  • Non-voting delegates encouraged to attend and participate
  • Issues are to be decided by consensus; chair may call for vote; passage requires majority of full Council (not quorum)
  • Committees may be formed/structured at the Council’s discretion


Responsibilities of the Digital Council shall include:

  • Establish and implement “One Department; One Web” concept
  • Determine Web policy, standards and guidance
  • Crisis and emergency response Web coordination
  • Foster Web-based delivery of Department services
  • Enhance efficiency through cross-department synergy
  • Foster communication across Web Community
  • Recommend enterprise applications
  • Implement enterprise applications
  • Create and disseminate base of shared knowledge
  • Foster consistent Web presence
  • Establish Web site inventory
  • Advise on domain issues
  • Foster establishment of Department-wide Web community

Responsibilities of the Representatives for Content shall include:

  • Coordinates content organization
    • Within Division
    • Across Department
  • Content liaison with DCD
  • Facilitates adherence to policy/standards
  • Identifies strategic content needs
  • Represents Division on Digital Council

Responsibilities of Web Representatives for Infrastructure shall include:

  • Coordinate implementation of applications
  • Oversees adherence to technical policy/standards
  • Identifies and advises on current and future enterprise-wide application needs
  • Represents Division on Digital Council

Qualities & Qualifications

Qualities and qualifications of Web Representatives shall include:

  • Web communications leader
  • Conversant with Departmental and Divisional mission, policies and messages
  • Stature and access within Division
  • Able to work collaboratively across HHS
  • Availability and commitment (time to do the job)
  • Content
    • Ability to see inter-relationship of content
    • Able to communicate to general audience
  • Infrastructure
    • Ability to recommend creative infrastructure solutions
    • Conversant on emerging technologies and media

Adopted March 15, 2007

Related Links

If you would like to be notified of the next HHS Digital Council meeting, contact us with your email from the HHS Family of agencies.

Content created by Digital Communications Division (DCD)
Content last reviewed