Agency Websites Shut Down With The Government | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Agency Websites Shut Down With The Government

If you or your child has a school report due tomorrow, the Census Bureau site will not be available to help. Census.gov and its affiliates, like American FactFinder and online surveys, are offline as part of the federal government's shutdown. The same goes for the Federal Trade Commission's site, the Agriculture Department's USDA.gov and the Library of Congress' site, which can also be a rich resource of reference information.

The decision to put up a splash page is an agency-by-agency call. When you visit the Census site today, instead of a portal to troves of data, you'll get this message: "Due to the lapse in government funding, census.gov sites, services, and all online survey collection requests will be unavailable until further notice."

Technically speaking, a site can stay up because servers are paid for ahead of time. And for most of these sites, a human doesn't have to be working with them to allow them to keep running. The Office of Management and Budget's guidance says this:

"The mere benefit of continued access by the public to information about the agency's activities would not warrant the retention of personnel or the obligation of funds to maintain (or update) the agency's website during such a lapse ... . If it becomes necessary to incur obligations to ensure that a website remains available in support of excepted activities, it should be maintained at the lowest possible level. For example, in the IRS case, the IRS website would remain active, but the entire Treasury Department website would not, absent a separate justification or a determination that the two sites cannot not feasibly be operated separately."

Other agencies aren't ending their sites so abruptly. The Department of Health and Human Services, for example, not only kept its site up, it also is working feverishly to keep healthcare.gov running — that's the main site to sign up for the new health insurance exchanges.

The Sunlight Foundation, which uses some of the source data from government sites, explains further.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

The World Music Education of Philip Glass

In his new memoir, Music Without Words, the composer explains how a chance meeting with Ravi Shankar sparked a fascination with the cultures of the world and their music.
NPR

PepsiCo Swaps Diet Drink's Aspartame For Other Artificial Sweeteners

The company says Diet Pepsi consumers are concerned about aspartame. But the Food and Drug Administration has long affirmed that the sweetener is safe in amounts commonly used by beverage companies.
NPR

8 Obama Jokes That Stood Out From The White House Correspondents Dinner

Every year, the president sits down for dinner with Washington reporters and delivers a stand-up routine. From his "bucket list" to Hillary Clinton, here's what he came up with this year.
NPR

As Health Apps Hop On The Apple Watch, Privacy Will Be Key

The notion of receiving nutrition advice from artificial intelligence on your wrist may seem like science fiction. But health developers are betting this kind of behavior will become the norm.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.