Topics on this page: Introduction | Scope of This Guidance | Content Lifecycle Management Guidance | Records Disposition Schedule | Archiving Content | Archive Schedule | Online Archive | Archive Request Process
HHS.gov and its priority websites need to maintain timely and accurate content to deliver important health and human service information to the nation. Below we discuss the life cycle management of content, 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A website archive contains HHS’s historical documents, data, and other information that has value to researchers and the public.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.
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 date created or last reviewed.
Reports will be generated to let content owners and content managers know about outdated material that needs review. If you have questions, please contact ASPA Digital Content.
Content reviewed will be placed in one of four categories:
- 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 to maintain the trustworthiness of the content. After content is updated, it will have an updated “Last updated or Last reviewed date.”
- Content to be removed: Outdated content that is no longer being maintained and is of no value to the public should be removed from the site or unpublished (if in a web content management system). The risks of retaining inaccurate or outdated content are significant. Content can be saved offline on media such as DVDs, thumb-drives, network drives, etc. at the content owner’s discretion. Unpublished content may be available within the HHS archive site(s). NOTE: Archived content is not binding and considered no longer relevant.
- Content to be archived: Outdated content that is no longer being maintained, but 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 or unpublished from the live site. See “Archive Schedule”.
We strongly advise that in reviewing content, if you are wavering between archiving or unpublishing the content, select unpublish.
Content on HHS.gov, websites managed by HHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA), 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.
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.
- 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.
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.
This standard retention schedule can be extended after demonstration by the content owner that older content is regularly and routinely accessed by the public. Though the content lifecycle management policy calls for content to be reviewed annually, content should be re-evaluated at any time within the one-year timeframe as needed.
Online Archive (HHS Archive website)
Content for HHS and its priority websites is archived using Pagefreezer, a web application. Archived content mirrors the HHS.gov website in content and maintains most functionality. The search function within the archived content is unavailable.
Archived content can be accessed in three ways:
- By visiting the following archived sites:
- By directly linking to archived content from current webpages of similar content, e.g., News or Blogs.
- From the HHS.gov Archive Index page (maintained by HHS/ASPA Digital).
Pagefreezer crawls these sites regularly and captures changes. ASPA/Digital can assist users in locating archived content.