What Federal laws, policies, and standards apply to NIH Web sites?
The policies listed below, as well as other important information on the skills, design standards, and resources required to develop a professional Web site, are found on Developing Web Sites at NIH, NIH Office of Communications and Public Liaison
Some of the policies that apply include:
- HHS Web Standards - HHS has established an HHS Web Governance Process. For more information on the HHS Web Governance Council, visit Governance. To review the latest set of HHS Web Standards, visit Policies & Standards
- USA.gov link/logo - If you are creating a site for public use, a graphic logo linking to USA.Gov should be included on the footer of your new homepage. See http://www.usa.gov/About/Usagov_Logos.shtml for more information.
- Local Institute policies - Many NIH Institutes, including NCI, have their own internal design guidelines and policies. Information on NCI's Web Style guidelines and standards is available at http://webresources.cancer.gov/. CCR Web sites can use the NCI-CCR mini-banner. (Contact Sue Fox for more information. NCI-Frederick sites can use the NCI-Frederick mini-banner.
- Use of persistent cookies - see http://www.hhs.gov/ocio/policy/2000-0009.html
- Domain name requests - see http://www.hhs.gov/policies/webpolicies/200501.html. In most cases, it is advisable to name your site within the current structure of your parent organization. Currently, HHS approves very few requests for top-level dot gov name requests, which would include any subject, word, or phrase followed by dot gov, such as "proteins.gov." Such names are only granted if it's clear that the site truly reflects a trans-governmental activity. Also, all official NIH sites need to reside within the GOV domain. There are a few exceptions but again, a waiver needs to be obtained before such a request is granted.
- Requests for top-level NIH domain names, such as parking.nih.gov or mitochondria.nih.gov - To submit your request go to http://www.net.nih.gov/DNS/ NIH has established a review panel to look at requests for top-level NIH domain names. Requests are evaluated to determine whether the requested name is relevant and appropriate to the resource it describes. We also determine whether the requestor has official sanctioned authority for the topic area being requested. We also review any possible conflicts with other NIH organizations that may have similar or related responsibility in the same subject area. If the proposed site is public facing, the domain name should not be misleading or confusing. In some cases, the review panel may recommend alternative names.
- Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch - Specifically, employees shall act impartially and not give preferential treatment to any private organization or individual. These standards exist to avoid giving the impression that any Federal agency endorses a particular product or service. This comes into play most often when one considers linking to an external site. If it might appear that such a link serves as an endorsement, it should not be used. If it's clear that the link is there as a service merely to assist users, an external link can be justified. In any case, a disclaimer statement is advisable. To view the NCI disclaimer, see http://www.cancer.gov/global/web/policies.
- NIH Manual Issuance #1183: Online Publications - The NIH Manual stipulates that online publications are subject to the same clearance procedures as printed publications. Fortunately, in most cases, online publications use content that was previously cleared for publication in hard copy. In that case, it does not need to be cleared again. See http://www1.od.nih.gov/oma/manualchapters/management/1183/.
- Online Surveys - The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) requires that all survey requests for information from the public, with minor exceptions, must be cleared by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and display an OMB control number prior to issue. Contact your organization's Project Clearance Liaison (PCL) for more information on the PRA.
- Section 508 of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended - Information technology and electronic resources made available to employees and to the public by Federal agencies must be accessible to people with disabilities. For more information see http://www.hhs.gov/web/508/ and the U.S. Access Board.
- NIH Web Guidance - It is recommended that each site be linked to its parent organization's Web site. A list of the appropriate officials and communications officers responsible for clearing new Web content can be found at http://www.nih.gov/employee/weblist.htm. These officials should be contacted before the site is launched and linked from the parent organization's Web site.
- Quality of Information Dissemination - For information on the types of online information covered by these OMB guidelines, see http://aspe.hhs.gov/infoquality/.
This list of policies should not be considered complete and the project leader responsible for developing the Web site should be aware that others may be applicable, depending on the nature of the site. For example, a site aimed at children as an audience needs to comply with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act ("COPPA"), see http://www.epic.org/privacy/kids/.
Additional NIH Web Guidance information and links can be found at http://www.nih.gov/icd/od/ocpl/resources/wag/documents/Developing_Issues.htm