The House is soliciting bids on an open-source content management platform that would give operators of its 520 websites more flexibility.
Drupal is now the "preferred web hosting environment for the House," according to the vendor source solicitation document released by the Office of the House Chief Administrative Officer. The incoming House freshman's sites are all hosted on the Drupal platform, but other members have the option of making the switch.
The chief administrator's office seeks information by Jan. 28 from companies experienced with web design, development and support using Drupal, to develop a list of pre-qualified vendors that customers can select from when they need services. The House websites include members' pages, and committee and leadership sites. The chief administrator's office will manage the Drupal-hosted sites from a central location, and will be able to roll out new features and security simultaneously for every site.
Drupal is highly interactive, so it has "all the current web 2.0 features that you're looking for ... When new ones come out, Drupal tends to support these sooner than other offerings," said Tom Erickson, chief executive of Woburn, Mass.-based Acquia, which provides Drupal products, services and technical support.
The current content management system limits the choice of site programmer as well as innovation, said Dan Weiser, communications director for the chief administrative officer, in an e-mail. Drupal, which uses a common framework and code that can be customized, will allow members to leverage a large community of programmers, providing more opportunities for innovation, he added.
Drupal developers are in every member's district, Weiser noted. "That hopefully means expanded choice and more innovation for our members," he said.
The House expects to save some money with the transition to Drupal, since the chief administrative officer will manage the infrastructure and members pay vendors only for development time, Weiser said.
Erickson said another advantage to Drupal, which houses parts of the White House's website, is that it's secure. "Obviously, the House has to be concerned about security; [there] have been issues with people trying to [issue] denial of service attacks," he said. Drupal also makes translation easier so members can communicate in multiple languages on their sites.