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HHS Website Content Lifecycle Management (CLM) and Archive Guidance


HHS.gov and its priority websites need to maintain timely and accurate content in order to reliably deliver important health and human service information to the nation. Below we discuss the life cycle management of content and related archiving guidance and process, which will govern the maintenance of HHS and priority websites.

A website archive contains HHS’s historical documents, data, and other information that has value to researchers and the public. It separates historical documentation from current information, providing quicker access to current information while allowing citizens to access legacy information about the past programs, administrations, initiatives, and activities of the department.

Scope of This Guidance

This guidance applies to HHS.gov and its priority websites. This guidance does not apply to internal collaboration websites such as the Intranet, SharePoint, etc. This guidance does not address non-public documents, whether digital or paper, related to the management of websites, which are covered under the Department’s Records Management Policy.

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Content Lifecycle Management Guidance

Content on HHS’s public websites must be reviewed and evaluated on an annual basis. Content owners should establish a regular annual review cycle for all live-site content.

Each page shows  "Content created by [office]" and "Content last reviewed on [date]" at the bottom of the page to establish content ownership and content currency.

Reports will be generated to let content owners and content managers know about outdated material that needs review. If you have questions about this, please contact your DCD Content Liaison.

Content reviewed should be evaluated against the following four considerations:

  • Content to be retained: No other action is necessary for content of value that is fully current.
  • Content to be retained and revised: Should be updated as soon as possible so as to maintain the trustworthiness of the content. It should have an updated “Last updated date” added.
  • Content to be removed: Outdated content that is no longer being maintained and is of no value to the public should be removed from the site (unpublished if contained in a WCMS). The risks of retaining inaccurate or outdated content are significant. Content can be saved off-line on media such as DVDs, thumb-drives, network drives, etc. at the content owner’s discretion.
  • Content to be archived: Outdated content that is no longer being maintained, but which needs to be available to the public for reference or to provide historic context, or which is required by law or mandate to be publicly available, must be archived in the appropriate HHS.gov archive collection and deleted from the live site. See “Archive Schedule” below.

We strongly advise that in reviewing content, if you are wavering between archive and delete, select delete.

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Records Disposition Schedule

Content on HHS.gov and ASPA-managed websites, the HHS intranet, and website management records are covered under the HHS Web Content Management System (WCMS) Records Disposition Schedule.  Under this schedule, these records are temporary and may be destroyed after three years. Note: Ownership and records management responsibility for documents provided to ASPA Digital for posting to the website remains with the originating office or agency. Please contact the Records Officer for HHS, Office of the Secretary with specific questions about your records management responsibilities.  

Archiving Content

Content is archived in an Online Archive (see below).  Broadly speaking, HHS recognizes three categories of archived content. Each category may include one or more collections:

  • Websites:  When a website or mini site is retired, the entire site is crawled and archived. It retains its navigation and all associated files. If the site is being retired because it has been superseded, the new site should include a link to its archived predecessor; if the retired site relates directly to an existing site or sites, it should be linked from that site(s). In both cases, the archived site should be linked from the bottom of the above site’s homepages.  In all cases, the retired site should also be linked from the HHS archive directory (accessible from a link in the footer).
  • Reference:  Documents issued annually (ex., budgets, performance reports, etc.), per-annual batches regularly issued content (ex., DAB decisions, news releases, etc.) and other groupings of related content  (ex., Advisory Committee materials) are moved to the archive according to the Archive Schedule below.
  • One-offs:  Individual pages or content items that are no longer maintained but provide context of historic background are typically moved to the archive at the time they are superseded.

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Archive Schedule

The Archive Schedule provides guidance for standard categories of archive-designated material.  It is a living document and will be modified/expanded as experience dictates.

Type of Content Timeline for Move to Archive*
Administration specific Change of Administration
Advisory Committee material FACA Standard (3 years)
Agendas Do not archive; delete after six months
Announcements (meeting, training, grants, funding opportunities, et cetera) Do not archive; delete after six months
Appeals, legal (of HHS decisions) Standard Schedule* unless longer retention is mandated by law or regulation
Blogs Standard Schedule*, change of administration, or when retired. Whichever is earlier.
Brochures Do not archive; delete after six months
Budget, financial, and performance documents Standard Schedule*
Content, Program or Office When superseded
Grant Awards Do not archive; delete when next cycle occurs or termination of grant program
Guidance When superseded
Health Emergency Sites One year after closure
Incident Related Sites One year after closure
News releases Standard Schedule* or change of administration. Whichever is earlier.
Newsletters Standard Schedule*, change of administration, or when retired. Whichever is earlier.
Meeting Announcements Do not archive; delete after six months
Mini-sites When retired
Natural Disaster Sites One year after closure
Policies When superseded
Plans When superseded
Presentations and meeting materials Do not archive; delete after six months
Regulations When superseded
Reports to Congress Standard Schedule*
Reports, Annual, Grantee, Research, Studies Standard Schedule*
Resigning Officials (political) Upon resignation (biographies, blogs, speeches, videos)
Speeches Change of Administration Or Standard Schedule* (whichever is earlier)
Testimony Change of Administration Or Standard Schedule* (whichever is earlier)
Training When retired
Websites When retired

* The standard retention schedule for dated reference materials is to archive annually, retaining two full years on the live site. For example, 2011 news releases should be archived in January 2014, keeping at least two full years and no more than three years of content available.

This standard retention schedule can be extended after demonstration by the content owner that older content is regularly and routinely accessed by the public. Note that while the CLM calls for content to be reviewed annually, content can be re-evaluated at any time within the one-year timeframe as warranted.

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Online Archive (HHS Archive website)

Content for HHS and its priority websites is archived at HHS Archive website. Archived content mirrors the HHS.gov website in content and most functionality, with the exception of site search.

Archived content can be accessed in three ways:

Archive Process

HHS.gov and HHS managed websites are crawled daily by Pagefreezer capturing changes within the site. ASPA/Digital Communications Division (DCD) Content Liaisons can assist users in locating archived content.

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Content created by Digital Communications Division (DCD)
Content last reviewed on January 21, 2021