1.1. Agency Website Stocktake

Under the Australian Government’s Web Accessibility National Transition Strategy (NTS), the purpose of the Agency Website Stocktake (work item 1.1) is to assist agencies in the review of their online environment to:

  • gauge the scope and complexity of their upgrade to WCAG 2.0
  • begin archiving or decommissioning non-essential or outdated websites
  • plan the amalgamation of web content or websites (where possible or relevant)
  • provide baseline data for future reporting requirements of the NTS.

At the completion of the Stocktake, agencies should be able to determine which websites and online services will be upgraded to WCAG 2.0, and need to be checked for accessibility conformance (work item 1.2, Accessibility Conformance Check).

Why should I?

The stocktake process is an integral component of the NTS and will be necessary for agencies to determine the scope of their upgrade, measure conformance and report on progress. Agencies are encouraged to use this time to also consider decommissioning or archiving content that is no longer necessary, superseded or outdated. For the purposes of effective information management, agencies should take responsibility for all web content developed, owned or distributed by the organisation.

Agencies will be asked to report on all websites considered within scope of upgrade to WCAG 2.0.

How do I?

The Agency Website Stocktake contains a number of steps to assist agencies collating data on websites owned, developed or managed by government:

  1. Define websites and online services
  2. Record all known websites and online services
    • consider future websites and online services
  3. Identify website details (owner and type)
  4. Assess status of websites
    • classify critical or required information and services
    • consider opportunities to decommission or archive content
  5. Determine scope for upgrade to WCAG 2.0

Define websites and online services

The NTS provides information on the Scope of upgrade required for conformance to WCAG 2.0. For the purposes of the NTS and associated guidance, the term ‘website’ includes broader online services and web content.

Briefly, a ‘government website’ is defined as one that:

  • is either fully or partly owned and/or operated by a government agency
  • is registered on a domain name, sub-domain or sub-directory
  • has a distinct look and feel (design), audience and purpose.

From this, agencies are reminded that both internal and external websites are considered within scope, that is internet, intranet and extranet websites.

WCAG 2.0 is primarily intended for web content. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) provides advice on WCAG 2.0, and its purpose. To help determine whether WCAG 2.0 is the appropriate standard to measure accessibility conformance for a particular website or web application, an agency should check if there exist relevant WCAG 2.0 sufficient techniques to measure conformance, if not, WCAG 2.0 may not be the appropriate standard.

The draft W3C web standard, Web Accessibility Initiative – Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) will generally be applicable to most rich internet applications (RIAs) but many web applications will be covered under WCAG 2.0. Yet more applications may find that the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) or some other standard is more relevant. Version 2.0 of ATAG is also a working draft; the current version 1.0 is from 2000.

As a final option, agencies may apply the Principles of WCAG 2.0 to improve accessibility of information and services. Regardless of what technical standard might be used as a guide, all government agencies have responsibilities that must be met under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA).

Record all known websites and online services

Agencies should maintain a list of websites owned and/or managed by the organisation, however, this may be difficult to maintain especially in a decentralised publishing environment.  Agencies may need to conduct internal consultations to ensure all web content is captured for reporting purposes. Other collection methods include:

  • acquire a list of .gov.au domains registered through the Domain Name Administrator (for the relevant jurisdiction)
  • review a list of government websites by portfolio or the A-Z List on australia.gov.au
  • consider websites that may exist in other domains (.net, .com, .com.au, .org etc.)
  • consider websites that may be cross jurisdictional, or exist in a state .gov.au domain space
  • collate names and URLs of intranets or private communities within the agency
  • consider open or private Web 2.0, social networking and collaborative workspaces, profiles and communities (e.g. govdex, govspace, Facebook, Myspace, Google Groups, Twitter)
  • check for websites hosted on sub-domains (e.g. sub-domain.example.gov.au) or sub-directories (e.g. example.gov.au/sub-directory) that may be considered separate from its parent site, for example:

Identify website details (owner and type)

Some of the information collected during a stocktake will be needed for future work items under the NTS Phase 1: Preparation. At a minimum, agencies should collect the following information about websites in order to assess scope of the agency upgrade to WCAG 2.0:

  • name and URL
  • site owner(s), developers, content authors and contributors
  • publishing model (decentralised, centralised, hybrid) and hosting arrangements (internal, external)

Agencies may determine the status and complexity of web content. For example, a program website that details activities now superseded is a potential candidate for archival. A transactional website will likely have more complex accessibility requirements than a information website, or a committee website may require negotiation or organisation from multiple parties to ensure accessibility conformance. Example types include:

AGIMO has developed a classification spreadsheet (XLS 88KB) that may be of some benefit during the stocktake process. These are useful categories to assist in stocktaking but this is not an exhaustive classification system.

Assess status of websites

To help assess the status, agencies should check the currency and accuracy of web content published and consider whether any exit strategies exist for currently managed websites.

Classify critical or required information and services

Once websites are known and catalogued, agencies should consider classifying some information as critical or required. This content may need upgrade to WCAG 2.0 before other web content and may assist the agency to prioritise upgrade activities, or may require a higher level of accessibility conformance to be understood or operated by members of the community. Such examples might include:

  • information that will help citizens to understand their responsibilities, obligations, rights and entitlements (e.g. benefits or services) in relation to government assistance
  • public notices, warnings and advice that pose risk to members of the community if not known or observed (e.g. relating to health, safety, or financial matters).

Consider opportunities to decommission or archive content

The content upgrade flowchart outlines the recommended process to assess websites for upgrade to WCAG 2.0 and those that should be archived. While there is an expectation from users to access government information online, websites that publish only current, accurate and timely information will be more user-friendly and the agency should benefit from more efficient information management (in such cases, website archives can be useful alternatives). See also, Web Guide advice on:

Determine scope for upgrade to WCAG 2.0

In  following the prescribed process of the stocktake, agencies should understand the number, name, type, and status of all websites owned and or operated by the agency, in full or part, along with supporting information about the management of those websites.

Agencies should be ready to determine, following guidance in the NTS, what websites will be upgraded to WCAG 2.0 (and will require an initial Conformance Check, work item 1.2), or will not be upgraded, and potentially archived or decommissioned over time.

Completing the Agency Website Stocktake will assist agencies to move through the NTS and will produce an overview of the websites and web content for which they are responsible. The outcome of the Stocktake will also assist agencies in their reporting responsibilities under the NTS.

Last Reviewed: 2010-09-10