11.1.4 Content Policies and Standards for Intranet Sites

Manual Transmittal

February 17, 2015


(1) This transmits revised IRM 11.1.4, Content Policies and Standards for Intranet Sites.


This manual outlines policies and standards for the establishment, design, and posting of content to IRS intranet sites.

Material Changes

(1) IRM 11.1.4 has been revised to incorporate new and update existing intranet standards. Sections have been reorganized and renumbered.

Effect on Other Documents

IRM 11.1.4 dated March 15, 2010 is superseded.


All Operating Divisions and Functions

Effective Date


Signed by
Terry Lemons
Office of Communications


  1. This section outlines policies and standards for the establishment, design, and posting of content to IRS intranet sites. The officials normally responsible for an intranet site are its Executive Owner, Content Manager, and Web Administrator.

Other Intranet Policies

  1. Other intranet-related policies, standards, and guidelines include:

    1. Technical policy is at IRM 2.25, Managed Service for IRS

IRWeb the Default Home Page

  1. IRWeb ( http://irweb.irs.gov) is to be the default intranet home page for all employees. Managers who want their employees to make extensive use of a different site can have employees set up a "favorite" for that site in their web browser.

Intranet Sites and Servers Must Be Registered

  1. All IRS intranet sites and servers must be registered. To register a site or server, use the online registration system ( http://wspo.web.irs.gov/webreg/enter.asp) maintained by Information Technology's Enterprise Operations for Communications & Liaison (C&L). A site's Content Manager, the single person responsible for day-to-day management of the site, is typically the one who should complete the registration and maintain its accuracy. Most registered sites can be included in IRWeb's directory of intranet sites and in IRWeb’s Google search index.

  2. A site is any Web page, including a subweb of any registered URL, that has its own home page and/or deviates from the official IRS intra-site consistency policy. All sites must secure their own registration.

  3. Intra-Site Consistency Policy states a site and its subordinate pages should be consistent in appearance so that users know what site they are on, which organization owns it, and how the page fits within that site. Elements that should typically be repeated throughout a site include site branding, navigation, and contact information.

  4. An important component of the site registration process is the naming of the site's Executive Owner who has ultimate responsibility for the site. The Executive Owner is to be an IRS executive or a senior manager. The embedded C&L office of applicant's division or function must approve the site. Divisions or functions without a C&L staff must have their sites approved and governed by Internal Communications within C&L.

  5. At the conclusion of the online registration process, the system sends an email to the Executive Owner to request affirmation of responsibility for the site. The Executive affirmation confirms the site:

    • Contains only authorized data

    • Complies with mandatory system controls for Web Services

    • Will adhere to the standards prescribed for all IRS intranet sites

  6. Sites or servers that are not properly registered will be removed from the intranet. Additionally, loss of site registration and intranet removal will occur when a site fails to adhere to the official IRS intranet standards. Internal C&L will alert the Executive Owner of any standards violation so that the owner can take prompt action to bring the site into compliance before it is removed from the system.

Intranet Sites Must Serve a Business Purpose

  1. A site’s Executive Owner (IRS executive or senior manager appropriate for each site) is to certify that the site meets a test of business purpose. This policy was established in a July 1999 memorandum from the Chief C&L and was reaffirmed in a May 2003 memo from the Acting Deputy Commissioner for Modernization and CIO. Intranet sites with content that is frivolous or inconsistent with achieving the business of the IRS may be pulled from the intranet.

  2. IRS executives certify the business purpose of intranet sites through the site registration process (all IRS intranet sites and servers must be registered). In this process, a site’s Content Manager must name the Executive Owner who is responsible for the site’s content. At the completion of the site registration process, the system sends an email to the Executive Owner to request affirmation of responsibility for the site.

  3. To assist executives in making this decision, it is recommended that site owners prepare and keep on file a summary of the site, its business purpose, an identification of its audience and their needs, and a brief assessment of the cost to develop and maintain the site versus its expected benefit.

Intranet Content Must Be Appropriate

  1. The content must be focused on the business of the IRS and must present a professional appearance that would reflect well on the IRS if it were to be viewed by anyone inside or outside of the IRS. Intranet pages must not provide links to Internet sites with inappropriate content, especially those categories of sites to which access is prohibited by the IRS policy on limited personal use of IRS resources. No taxpayer data will ever be published on the intranet.

  2. A site's Executive Owner should be used as the arbiter of the appropriateness of the site's content.

Only the Owner of Content May Post It to the Intranet

  1. Generally, you should not post or republish content that is owned by other IRS business units. (If you don’t own it, don’t post it.) This policy is important for several reasons: posting someone else’s content to your site could confuse employees about who owns the content, could mislead employees about where to get help, and — most damagingly — could give employees inaccurate information if the true IRS owner of the content ever changes it.

  2. If you want to incorporate another business or functional unit's content into your site, the correct way to do so is by linking to it and/or by carefully summarizing it and providing attribution. If the information is not already available electronically, it can be posted with permission from the content owner with attribution.

Search Engines Must Have a Limited Scope

  1. Only IRWeb, the IRS intranet home page, may have a search feature with a scope that covers the entire intranet. The scope of search engines on other intranet sites or applications must be limited to the content of those particular sites.

Copyright Policy

  1. Employees may not post or publish to an IRS intranet site any copyrighted material without the permission of the owner. If there is any reason to believe that text, images, or other materials may belong to someone else, do not copy or otherwise use it. Link to copyrighted material, do not copy. For more information about how to follow federal or other copyright laws, refer to:

    • IRM, Copyright and Copyrighted Material

    • Chief Counsel White Paper, "Copyright Law: When is Copying Fair?" ( http://ccintranet.prod.irscounsel.treas.gov/OrgStrat/Offices/GLS/Pages/Fair_Copying.aspx )

    • Guidance About Copyrights and Intranet Content ( http://irweb.irs.gov/AboutIRS/irhelp/intranet/standards_art/8847.aspx)

    • SPDER Guidance on How to Link to IRM ( http://irm.web.irs.gov/tools/createlink.asp)

    • Copying and Reposting Documents to Web Sites ( http://irweb.irs.gov/AboutIRS/irhelp/intranet/standards_art/8847.aspx )

Intranet Sites Must Be Accessible

  1. IRS intranet sites and their content must be accessible. Federal and IRS policy requires it. The Information Resources Accessibility Program (IRAP) office in IT is responsible for setting IRS policy and standards for accessibility of intranet content. For more information about accessibility and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, contact IRAP (http://irap.web.irs.gov/) or the Alternate Media Center ( http://amc.enterprise.irs.gov). Two key resources from these offices include IRAP's 508 Accessibility Checklists, and Web Services' Accessibility Standards.

Intranet Sites Must Post a Privacy Policy Statement

  1. All IRS intranet site owners must post the IRS Privacy Policy Statement to every major entry point to the site as well as any Web page collecting personal information from an employee.

  2. The notice is available at http://irweb.irs.gov/AboutIRS/irhelp/privacy/default.aspx.

  3. For more information about the requirement for privacy policy statements or related issues, refer to IRM, Inside IRS: Intranet Web Site Privacy Notices and Data Collection. You may also email questions to *Privacy.

Naming Convention

  1. The following guidelines should be followed when naming files to post to the IRS intranet:

    • Make file names indicative of the file’s contents.

    • Do not use spaces or other non-alphanumeric characters, with the exception of the hyphen – or underscore _ to show delineation in file names.

    • Use of the hyphen is preferred over an underscore _ as hyphens increase readability for print.

    • Use standard file extensions (such as .pdf for Adobe Acrobat) Limit the length of file names as much as is logical.

  2. Examples of good URLs created by following basic naming conventions mentioned above:

    • http://www.microsoft.com/technet/technetmag/issues/2007/01/Wiki/default.aspx

    • http://www.usa.gov/webcontent/technology/rss.shtml

    • http://blogspace.com/rss/readers

    • http://sharepoint.microsoft.com/pedia/pages/ContentDetails.aspx?ContentID=217

    • http://blogs.msdn.com/sharepoint/archive/2007/10/24/enabling-and-managing-social-networks-for-business-use-with-microsoft-office-sharepoint-server-2007.aspx

    • http://www.intranetjournal.com/sharepoint/

    • http://www.usa.gov/webcontent/technology/other_tech.shtml

    • http://www.usa.gov/webcontent/resources/training.shtml

    • http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-dft/corpfactors.pdf

    • http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i1040x.pdf

Proprietary Computer Code Must Be Approved Before Use

  1. IRS Web developers do not use on IRS systems, any proprietary programming code, such as can often be found for free from Internet sites, unless it has been approved concerning issues of implied agreements, licenses, and security. This policy, codified at IRM 2.25.10, is based on IRS computer security policy and on a recent opinion provided by the office of Chief Counsel. This restriction does not apply to any code initiated and completed within the IRS, or by contractors under IRS direction, if the code was developed within the limits stated herein.

  2. Legal Review — Chief Counsel has issued an opinion (GLS-110858-04, 4/19/04) urging IRS employees to avoid the use of proprietary code since its use may be interpreted as having been acquired for the benefit of the IRS and therefore may establish an unacceptable agreement to conditions stated or implied in the code or by its developer. Only IRS employees and contractors who have delegated authority to obligate the Service to such an agreement may do so. If, however, certain code is not copyrighted and there are no terms or conditions for its use, employees may use this code, subject to security approval. For example, there are many Internet sites that provide educational information on the use of code and may provide samples of code to reinforce concepts of code use.

  3. Security Approval and Enterprise Architecture Policy — Notwithstanding the legal limitations and exceptions noted above, IRS security policy prohibits the use on IRS systems of any code that has not been specifically reviewed and approved for use on our systems by MITS, Information Technology Security Architecture & Engineering (ITSAE) Office within Enterprise Services (ES). There is also IRS Enterprise Architecture policy on the use of open source code that must be considered. Web or applications developers who wish to use any third-party code on IRS systems must contact MITS to begin the review and approval process.

Use of Video/Audio on the Intranet

  1. The recommendations outlined below should not be construed as official standards; rather it is a conglomeration of industry best practices and is only provided as a starting point. The primary sources for these best practices are listed below. IT has not yet provided official guidance regarding IT limitations such as bandwidth and server capabilities. It is highly recommended that file sizes be limited to no more than 3-5 MB.

  2. Considerations to Assist Your Decision — Using multimedia to deliver information over the intranet can be a very effective communication tool. Keep the following points in mind as you make your decision about creating multimedia content:

    • Not all employees may have computers with speakers

    • Some employees may have computers without the necessary technology or power to process a video

    • Risk of adding to the auditory clutter in areas where workstations are located in common spaces, i.e., cubicles

    • Employees are likely to tune in for a very short amount of time

    • All video projects must be reviewed by the Servicewide Video Editorial Board

  3. Comply with Section 508 standards. Refer to IRAP (http://irap.web.irs.gov/). Is audio or video the best way to get your message across?

  4. Limited Use Recommended — Until IT can provide clear technical parameters regarding the capabilities of the network and servers, the following limited use is recommended to deliver Corporate Messages:

    • Deliver by executives or directors

    • Length should be limited to about three minutes

    • Topic must be relevant to all employees

    • Limit frequency so the novelty doesn’t wear out

    • Production values should be high quality

  5. Help the Users — The following tips are taken from the Nielson Norman Group Guidelines "Designing Usable Intranets – Communication"

    1. Provide the following Information about the video:

      1. Video’s length – write out the time like this – 5 minutes, and not like this – 5:00

      2. Date of the video

      3. Content summary

      4. Provide a transcript

      5. Information about the presenter if the presenter is new or unknown to the audience

    2. Warn users of potential technical issues and advise them of workarounds.
      EXAMPLE: Due to the large size of the video, we recommend saving the file to your computer and viewing the video there. Directions to download: Right click on the link, select ‘Save Target As’.

  6. Accessibility, Section 508. Be advised — official guidance on complying with section 508 must be obtained from the Information Resources Accessibility Program Office (http://irap.web.irs.gov/).

Additional Information

  1. See Intranet Web Site Policies and Guidance ( http://irweb.irs.gov/AboutIRS/irhelp/intranet/default.aspx) for updated policies, references and additional resources.

  2. For questions about this policy or to request an exception, please contact C&L Intranet Management Staff by sending an email to *CL Technology.