Don't Duplicate Existing Content

What It Is

Avoid duplicating or recreating content that already exists on your own or another federal public website. Always "link to the source" instead of reinventing the wheel. This is a best practice for managing your agency’s website.

Why It’s Important

People will be confused if they find overlapping or inconsistent information on the same subject, either on your own website or on another federal website. The best practice to ensure accurate and quality Web content is to let the organization with the greatest expertise or oversight create and post the content, and everyone else link to it. By focusing on creating content related to your own mission—and linking to related content—you save time and resources. It takes much less effort to link to content that already exists, than to (re)create it.

Specific Requirements

OMB Policies for Federal Public Websites require agencies to (#1A) "disseminate information to the public in a timely, equitable, efficient and appropriate manner" and (#2A) "maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information and services provided to the public." By linking to content that already exists, instead of duplicating the effort already invested by the organization with the most expertise, you can manage your content more efficiently and enhance the integrity of the information and services you provide to the public.

How to Implement

  • Before creating new information on a particular topic, determine if that same—or comparable—information already exists on your own website or on another federal public website, including on a cross-agency portal.
  • USA.gov, the official Web portal of the U.S. government, is a great resource to determine whether content already exists on another website. USA.gov organizes government-wide content by subject and provides a government-wide search.
  • When multiple organizations have a stake in the same—or comparable—content, both within and across agencies, you should consult with each other to find ways to share or coordinate content to mitigate duplication.
  • There may be situations where it is valuable for the public to have information on a particular topic from different sources. In these situations, be sure to organize the links to that information so that they are complementary.
  • If you identify government content that is conflicting, contact the Web content manager for that/those organizations so they can reconcile the content. Above all, we do not want to confuse the public.

Examples

Content Lead: Natalie Davidson and Andrea Sigritz
Page Reviewed/Updated: March 18, 2013

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