White House Freezes New Websites For Three Months

The White House ordered a 90-day freeze on all new websites that use the .gov domain on Monday as part of a major push to increase government efficiency and cut down on duplication and waste.

Any agency that wants to launch a new website during that time must get a personal waiver from Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra, the White House said.

The government also will be publishing a list of all the roughly 2,000 federal websites currently in operation and inviting the public to suggest cuts, according to a memo from Federal Chief Performance Office Jeffrey Zients.

A White House blog post announcing the freeze asked citizens to comment on how federal websites should be managed in the future and even, provocatively, floats the notion of a single federal website.

Monday's memo was part of a full-day push on government efficiency by the Obama administration, which also included an executive order creating an oversight board for all government spending modeled on the board that oversees stimulus spending.

In a video message early in the day, Obama highlighted the Fiddlin' Foresters -- five current and retired members of the Forest Service who sing about ecology, fire safety and the natural beauty of U.S. forests. Obama pointed to the site as an example of "pointless waste and stupid spending that doesn't benefit anybody."

"I'll put their music on my iPod," the president said, "but I'm not paying for their website."

Lynn Young, a Fiddlin' Forester and retired Forest Service worker said Monday that maintaining the group's website cost about $125 per year the last he knew, a standard cost for a low-maintenance website.

Young declined to comment on the president's address, but said the Foresters are still together and have one show tentatively scheduled for this year.

The Forest Service's Rocky Mountain regional office, where the Fiddler's all worked, forwarded requests for comment to the Agriculture Department. An Agriculture spokesman said in a statement that the agency "supports ongoing efforts to streamline government and make it more effective and efficient."

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