By Alan J. McCombs, Fort Meade Soundoff!October 15, 2009
The Defense Information Systems Agency isn't just bringing jobs to Fort Meade when the agency migrates to the post in 2011. DISA is also bringing an armful of awards.
The Web Marketing Association declared DISA the winner of two awards in September for the quality of the agency's main Web site, disa.mil, and its portal geared specifically for information regarding the agency's upcoming move to Fort Meade due to the Base, Realignment and Closure process.
"WMA's nod acknowledges what our agency already knows -- our elite Web team members are simply the best," said John Garing, DISA's director of Strategic Planning and Information, in a statement on disa.mil.
Each Web page was judged by a panel of experts to determine how well the sites served their target customers. Besting the industry average of 49 points, DISA's main Web page took the honor of Best Military Web Site of 2009 with a score of 63 from the panel. DISA's BRAC Web site won the title of Best Government Web site with a score of 65.5, versus the average score of 51 among its competitors.
"It was great," said Jason Schiavoni, DISA's Web team leader, of the awards. "It was a pat on the back."
His team includes IT specialists Noreen Costello and Svetlana Lakhma.
The agency will receive plaques for both achievements. Those laurels will join Gold and Silver prizes the agency received earlier this year from the National Association of Government Communicators.
Both Web pages were launched in 2008. The disa.mil site came about in June 2008 after an 18-month design process in which the agency attempted to gauge areas for improvement in its existing Web page.
"We went out and talked to customers," Schiavoni said. "A lot of the comments we got was that it was difficult to navigate ... [and that] we used a lot of internal lingo."
Working with other offices in DISA, the agency worked to streamline the new Web page.
"The first few clicks on our site were going to do as much as possible to explain what we do," Schiavoni said.
The BRAC Web site originated as an effort to take a site that had only been accessible to employees and turn it into a resource for employees, their families and those in Maryland who might be curious about the agency's impending move.
While the sites may be award winners, DISA won't be resting on its laurels. Both sites are regularly updated with news and information. Plans also call for the launch of videos on the BRAC Web page that will have employees describing life in Maryland.
"We're keeping them relevant," Schiavoni said.