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RE: Question for Sept 19: What about EPA's info?

As an observer of the evolution of EPA's web site over the past few years, I first offer my enthusiastic thanks to the Agency folks who pioneered their web pages and who have been working to bring order to what is now a pretty substantial resource.

Over the past several years, I have used an enormous amount of EPA web info--from the Evirofacts databases that can be searched for a wide variety of info, to the Sector Facility Indexing Project (SFIP) that gives a look at compliance and overall environmental performance of selected key sectors, the Office of Water's introductory info on source water protection and the useful environmental law backgrounders from the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assistance, to the Federal Register search capacity, the Design for the Environment's sector-specific info on pollution prevention and the individual office's intro pages that can help alert you to "hot topics."

The sheer amount of info available on EPA's pages seems to have grown enormously over the past several years,as has the quality in content and presentation. I hope that the growth and improvement continues apace.

This conference and other EPA initiatives are beginning to address what may be the most pressing current need -- better navigation. Though it is hard for EPA staffers and those of us who follow the Agency's work in some detail, we must try to get out of the bureaucratic thinking mode and think about how to organize information for the totally uninitiated. The new topics page ( is a step in the right direction, but I believe that many of EPA's pages are still off-putting for the average individual.

I hope we will all think about alternative routes of entry that will help people with different needs who are unfamiliar with the Agency structure find their way to the right information more readily. Glenn Landers, for example, gave some useful suggestions earlier today.

Clearly, there is no single approach that will work for all parties, so the best approach may be to create even more variety of "paths" for finding the useful info now online. And for organizations outside of the Agency, to create their own web pages that will help the people they work with better use EPA info.

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