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Energy.gov to move to Drupal

Open source continues to play an important role in open government.

Rack up another win for open source in government. According to Cammie Croft (@cammiecroft), the director of new media at the Department of Energy, Energy.gov and many of the websites from the department’s program offices will relaunch using Drupal next spring.

For those who track such things, the U.S. Department of Energy has hundreds of websites, all of which are currently maintained through a variety of content management systems (CMS). Astonishingly, in 2010, a few are still being manually maintained. Earlier this week, I caught up with Croft at an Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) breakfast. Croft was there to discuss the use of social media and open government for citizen engagement. Video of our interview follows (she discusses Drupal after the second question):

In a follow-up interview, Croft said that Energy.gov is primarily using proprietary content management systems, but it has already begun a transition toward Drupal. The National Nuclear Security Administration and the Office of Scientific and Technical Information have rebuilt their program sites using Drupal.

“We did build the Energy Blog in Drupal as it was cheaper and quicker to do so than trying to make the proprietary CMS do something it didn’t want to do,” said Croft.

“The Energy Department is not unique here — many departments and agencies across government have a similar variety [of CMS],” she pointed out. “The Energy.gov we are launching in Drupal in the spring will include all of what we’re calling our ‘phase one sites’ — the main site plus program offices completely within the current branding and proprietary CMS. Secondary phases of the project are planned following that initial launch. Our goal is to build a platform that can better serve the public as well as our needs, and can scale over time.”

News that another federal agency is moving to an open source platform is an important data point. As Phase2 Consulting group founder Jeff Walpole wrote at Govfresh, the federal government has been using Drupal for open government initiatives for years. In September, the F.C.C. announced that part of the reboot of FCC.gov would involve using Drupal. The system is famously deployed at WhiteHouse.gov as well.

For those interested in learning more about Drupal, the O’Reilly community has a great guide to getting started.

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