Whitehouse.gov gets a makeover

By Megan McArdle

In addition to the sun rising in the west, and my dog declaring his intent to become a vegan, Whitehouse.gov has gotten a facelift.  Naturally, I immediately went to the Office of Management and Budget, a site I use very often, and which is nearly legendary in its ability to hide any piece of information that anyone outside the OMB might want to lay their hands on, like fr'instance historical budget data.  The ability to quickly lay hands on OMB information is a skill that has taken me years to hone, and provides substantial professional advantage.

The site was also uglier than a warthog in velour.

You'll be pleased to know that the new site is very smart looking.  Unfortunately, that sleekness has been achieved by tucking even more of that unsightly information out of the way, where it won't mar the vista.  

Why is government IT so awful?  It seems like the first thing people are going to want, when they go to the Office of Management and Budget, is, like, to look at the Budget.  Yet the budget isn't even on the OMB servers, apparently--it's hosted at the GPOaccess site.  I have, to be sure, seen private websites that were this awful.  But not that many, and the companies that had them usually either redesigned them right quick, or went out of business.  Instead the government has preserved all the problems with the old site, added new ones, and given us in exchange . . . a glossy photograph of Barack Obama looking solemn.

I am sure that there is some stupid bureaucratic logic behind putting the budget information elsewhere.  But I'm not sure my heart can stand finding out what it is.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2009/01/whitehousegov-gets-a-makeover/4591/