Websites are the primary means by which federal agencies communicate with the public. Changes to the presentation of and access to website information can therefore directly impact the public’s ability to participate in environmental governance. Since January 2017, EDGI’s website monitoring team has been tracking changes to tens of thousands of federal agency environmental webpages. We document, analyze, and report on these changes; assess the quality and accessibility of information; and provide recommendations to agencies for improving the provision and preservation of their public information.
Our work revealed systematic suppression of information relating to environmental rules and regulations under the Trump administration, and the imperative for a series of improvements to website governance, as described in Access Denied: Federal Web Governance Under the Trump Administration. We also detailed widespread censorship of climate change language across federal agencies during the Trump administration in The New Digital Landscape, and elucidated patterns of censorship in Visualizing changes to US federal environmental agency websites 2016-2020. During the Biden administration, we are pressing the agencies to improve web resources and build websites that can foster scientific literacy and learning, as well as opportunities for public oversight and agency accountability. A key focus area for us is the availability and utility of web information to help the public understand and comment on proposed regulations. We keep a public record of website changes that we observe in our Federal Environmental Web Tracker (updated quarterly) and support journalists and other environmental advocacy groups in conducting their own analyses.
EDGI’s website monitoring work has been covered in more than 150 articles. To see some of our work, please read our blog series “Highlights from the Change Log,” our public comments on proposed rules, and our reports.
For more information on EDGI’s website monitoring work, please contact us through Gretchen Gehrke at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also explore how development on our monitoring platform, Scanner, is doing at https://github.com/edgi-govdata-archiving/web-monitoring.