OLAO is part of the Office of Administration and is responsible for activities related to all aspects of acquisition, government property, and transportation, including shipping and receiving as well as fleet management of Government vehicles.
OLAO was created a few years ago as a merging of the Offices of Procurement, Logistics, and Contracts. We had previously created the site designs for OPM and OLM and were maintaining both sites. We were asked to help create a single site for the new office.
A team was put together comprising representatives from all the major functional areas involved to ensure the new site incorporated all services. Meetings were held over many months to gain an understanding of all the services managed in OLAO and how they related to each other. Consensus was reached to structure the site around the three main services; these services were further defined to create the lower level structures, and additional major sections were fleshed out to fill other needs.
It became apparent from reviewing the content on the existing sites that additional content was needed, as many pages gave just brief overviews of the service and a contact point to learn more. It was felt the OLAO was not using the power of the web to communicate basic information about their services; much of the employees' time was spent answering the simplest routine questions. A separate vendor was brought in to interview relevant staff members, reorganize the content structure under each major business area, and rewrite the content to give users more information up front, eliminating some of the routine questions.
In all points in the process, we tried to identify areas for further development. Initially, this could be simply a form that could be sent directly to the designated OLAO staff associated with the task. If a separate back-end database source could be identified, future enhancements would allow us to pull data directly from the source, eliminating the need for any manual interaction with OLAO staff to answer questions, request services, or find out the status of a previous request.
A number of different design prototypes were presented. Based on feedback, these prototypes were refined until the final design was approved. The final site was built out by functional area, reviewed, and revisited often by WebDev and OLAO staff to ensure there were no gaps or inconsistencies in the new site. The new site was launched in May of 2004.
The new website has been positively received by the NIH community. OLAO staff have received numerous compliments on the overall design as well as the structure and completeness of the content. New features will continue to appear on the site over time, including allowing users to browse and search more easily for Blanket Purchase Orders, Government-wide Acquisition Contracts, and Indefinite Delivery Contracts.