Department of Commerce
Web Advisory Council


The Department of Commerce (DOC) Web presence is an essential enabler of the Department's mission, goals and objectives.

In that role, the DOC uses the Internet to make itself and its programs more accessible to citizens, communicate with staff and the general public, disseminate data, and aid in the process of operating more transparently. The DOC also use the Internet to securely host many Web-enabled applications that allow members of the public to apply for licenses, register for programs, and receive updates to scientific and statistical data.

The effective and efficient management and use of the Department's Web presence and the associated enabling technologies are imperative, as we evolve from a static web page environment to one that includes social media, Web 2.0 and future innovative capabilities. To that end, the Commerce Chief Information Officer (CIO) and the Director of the Office of Public Affairs (OPA) establish the DOC Web Advisory Council.

Purpose and Scope

The purpose of the DOC Web Advisory Council is to serve as a resource, policy development and advisory body to the CIO and Director of the OPA on matters pertaining to the management, use, and security of Commerce's Web presence and enabling technologies.

In that role, the Web Advisory Council will promote collaboration across the Department to ensure that data quality, IT accessibility, IT security, privacy and the effective relay of public information is built into every Commerce Website and Web-enabled application.


The Web Advisory Council is sponsored by the CIO and Director of the OPA. The Web Advisory Council is co-chaired by senior members of the DOC CIO and the DOC OPA staff.

Each operating unit should have two representatives-one from the CIO community (e.g., Web manager) and the public affairs community (e.g., communications/public affairs specialist).  Participating operating units are:

    • Office of the Secretary
    • Bureau of Economic Analysis
    • Bureau of Industry and Security
    • Bureau of the Census
    • Economic Development Administration
    • Economics and Statistical Administration
    • International Trade Administration
    • Minority Business Development Agency
    • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
    • National Telecommunications and Information Administration
    • United States Patent and Trademark Office*
    • National Institute of Standards and Technology
    • National Technical Information Service

*Denotes non-voting operating unit.

Meetings require a quorum of at least seven of the DOC's 12 voting operating units.

The co-chairs will ensure that agendas are prepared and a record of the meetings is produced and made available to the members.

    • Working groups are created to develop and share best practices, serve as topic-specific resources and identify topic-specific experts who can assist other operating units.  Additional working groups can be established as needed.

    • Coordination.  The many dissemination channels available for DOC Web content require coordination and collaboration with a broad array of offices and expertise within DOC. The Web Advisory Council will coordinate with the Office of General Counsel, IT security officers, privacy officers, records managers, Freedom Of Information Act officials and others as required to ensure DOC Web policies and practices conform with existing federal requirements and Departmental policies. Additionally, coordination may be required with system owners and program managers. Policies and guidance developed by the Web Advisory Council must go through normal review and approval processes.  For example, proposed policies that impact IT policy require review by the Department CIOs, the OGC and OIG.

Decision Making

Decisions will be made both in person at Web Advisory Council meetings and "virtually" through electronic collaboration.  A decision-making quorum has the same requirements as those to proceed with a meeting. Each voting operating unit will cast a single vote. This means that an operating unit's CIO and public affairs representative must come to an agreement about the operating unit's single vote. The Web Advisory Council decision may be reached by a simple majority vote.

Appeals Process

Web Advisory Council decisions may be appealed to the Commerce CIO and Director of Public Affairs with prior notification to the co-chairs.  

Key Web Policy Resource for Commerce and the Federal Government

On behalf of the DOC CIO and Director of Public Affairs, and in compliance with federal regulations and OMB Web Policies for Federal Agencies (Memorandum 05-04, the Web Advisory Council maintains a Website setting forth Department's web policies and best practices and providing resources to assist in compliance. This site is available at (DOC Web Resources Site).  These policies also form the basis of the DOC's annual website certification process.

This site addresses issues such as content management, user privacy, accessibility for persons with disabilities, use of approved domain names, identification of web site owners, and non-endorsement of external sites. Through the DOC Web Resources site, the WAC listserv, and responses to e-mail inquiries, the WAC provides Web policy implementation and best practice guidance to Web content managers, Webmasters and Web developers, and Communications/Public Affairs Specialists throughout the Department.

Membership and Meetings

The members are appointed by and serve at the discretion of the CIO or Director of the Office of Public Affairs in their respective operating units.

Appointing officials may also appoint an alternate. Alternates may attend Web Advisory Council meetings and caucus with their operating unit members when a vote is required.  However, alternates may only cast a vote on behalf of their voting operating unit when they have obtained the permission of their operating unit's primary representatives.

Individual members of the WAC members will communicate and coordinate activities related to Web policy and content management to their respective operating unit's CIO and Director of the Office of Public Affairs.

The Web Advisory Council meets regularly.  Ad hoc meetings will occur at the discretion of the co-chairs.

The appointing officials and member's supervisors should ensure that WAC members are provided time to prepare for and attend meetings and working group sessions.

Members of the WAC are directed to build and maintain consensus within the group in an orderly manner and work to fulfill the purpose of this charter. 

Tasks and Responsibilities

The Web Advisory Council is responsible for:

    • Providing recommendations to improve the management and use of the DOC Web presence and enabling technologies that incorporate the consideration of mission needs and IT security risks;
    • Reviewing and periodically updating existing DOC Web policies;
    • Developing new DOC Web policies when necessary;
    • Reviewing and recommending decisions on requests for accounts for approved social media services to the DOC Director of New Media;
    • Reviewing and recommending decisions on requests for new top-level domains to the DOC CIO;
    • Developing and skills, knowledge, best practices, ideas and solutions for Web developers and content managers;
    • Ensuring that DOC websites are in compliance with Web and communications policies set forth by the DOC and the OMB;
    • Supporting FISMA compliance reporting.

As needed, the Department's OCIO and OPA refer issues that fall within the scope of this charter to the Web Advisory Council for consideration, feedback and recommendation.

In addition, the Web Advisory Council is empowered to use its resources affirmatively for the development of issues that fall under its jurisdiction and which are important enough to raise to the level of appropriate officials.

The Web Advisory Council co-chairs will brief the DOC CIO and Director of OPA upon request and keep them informed of its activities and plans as required.  Annually, the co-chairs will brief the Department's CIO and Director of OPA on the status of its work, plans, recommendations, accomplishments, and suggest revisions, if any, to the charter. The co-chairs may also brief other DOC organizations upon the request of the council's co-sponsors.

The Web Advisory Council exists and serves under the authority and at the discretion of the Department of Commerce Chief Information Officer and the Department of Commerce Director of the Office of Public Affairs.

Department of Commerce
Chief information Officer
Department of Commerce
Director of Public Affairs



Department of Commerce Web Advisory Council (WAC)
U.S. Department of Commerce

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Page last updated October 12, 2010