Information Policies Under the Harper Government Part 4: Treasury Board’s Reduce Redundant Outdated and Trivial (ROT) Web Content

One Line Description: Harper Government Aiming to Delete Half the Internet (well at least half of the Government of Canada’s web presence).

Short Description: Under the guise of removing redundant, outdated and trivial web content,[1] the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat is directing government departments to remove access to 50% of departmental websites resulting in the elimination of over 1.55 million webpages.[2]

Details: While the Treasury Board’s policies aim to make government information easier to find for citizens, it also involves a massive reduction of government information available over the internet.   In many cases government web pages will be removed after two years, with some content being removed at an even quicker pace, such as Canadian Heritage’s plan to remove websites dealing with events just three months after the event has occurred. Web metrics will also determine when pages are removed, yet guidelines vary between departments and in some cases (such as the Public Health Agency of Canada) the required level of hits per month was arbitrarily changed to result in more pages being removed. Departments including Health and Justice have set even more ambitious targets by aiming to remove 60% of web pages based on Fall 2011 levels. Unsurprisingly, the source of this policy appears to be from Harper himself.[3]

[1] Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. “Reduce Redundant, Outdated and Trivial Content.” http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/ws-nw/wu-fe/rot-rid/index-eng.asp

[2] Michael McNally, Amanda Wakaruk, Danoosh Davoodi. “Rotten by Design: Shortened Expiry Dates for Government of Canada Web Content.” Presented at the 43rd Annual Conference of the Canadian Association for Information Science. June 4, 2015. https://era.library.ualberta.ca/public/view/item/uuid:71d49088-22bd-469b-bb3e-d3aee5aef8a1/

[3] Michael McNally, Amanda Wakaruk, Danoosh Davoodi. “Rotten by Design: Shortened Expiry Dates for Government of Canada Web Content.” Presented at the 43rd Annual Conference of the Canadian Association for Information Science. June 4, 2015. https://era.library.ualberta.ca/public/view/item/uuid:71d49088-22bd-469b-bb3e-d3aee5aef8a1/