They are also proceeding with a broad initiative to try to clean up and consolidate government websites and offer more services for mobile phones, officials said.
Candi Harrison, a former website manager for the Department of Housing and Urban Development who now blogs on government Web issues, said the problem isn’t so much the number of domains, but rather a generally chaotic approach to the Web.
Many departments and agencies don’t have officewide Web policies, according to plans they submitted as part of the waste-cutting initiative. Ms. Harrison said, that means information gets spread across different offices and departments, and makes it tough on the customers.
“What causes/sustains this problem? To be blunt, egos,” she said in an email.
She said executives want their own websites for their initiatives, and those in charge of government websites don’t say “No” enough. She also said executives have no incentives to work with colleagues in other agencies to streamline the federal government’s Web profile.
Ms. Harrison said some of her friends looked at Web stats and found that a high percentage of pages are getting little or no traffic — in one case, 60 percent of pages had zero views in six months prior to the review.
“Editing, editing, editing is the key,” she said. “And then merging/consolidating is the next step. And then making sure what’s left is written in plain language so customers can understand it once they find it.”
As for the domain-cutting, progress has been uneven, and the lure of websites is tough to resist.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was created in July 2010, has registered 10 domain names since it opened its doors last year. All of the domains are close to the bureau’s name, apparently in a bid to capture potential permutations, such as consumerfinance.gov, consumerfinancial.gov and consumerprotection.gov.
In a statement to The Times, the agency said the duplication is warranted “to help ensure consumers can find the CFPB site.” The bureau also said it has no plans to cull the list.
The Education Department has done the most of any office by reducing its domain names from 34 to 17. Among big federal agencies, the Federal Communications Commission was second, going from 14 to eight, while the Homeland Security Department cut 38 percent, from 58 to 36.
Several offices have gone in the other direction.
The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, which the White House itself created, has added a Web domain in the past year: www.accountabilityandtransparency.gov. The site does not appear to be active, so it’s not clear what it would add to the collection of nine other domains run by the board, including aandt.gov, ratb.gov and atb.gov.
The White House didn’t respond to questions about the board’s new site.