CMS Expo: The Right CMS For Government

The use of content management systems in government is a personal and work interest of mine. There is actually a lot of diversity in what governments need their CMS to do and I'm curious to see how well the panel handles that diversity. Tony White, Ars Logica, is the moderator for this panel. 

Leaders from Featured CMSes will be on-hand during this panel discussion to participate in a live analysis of the CMSes, asking probing questions of each, to determine how their represented Content Management System (and supporting community and infrastructure) best meets the demands of today's governmental needs, whether at a municipal, state or federal level.

Represented on this panel are: Lee Middleton (SilverStripe), Shaun Walker (DotNetNuke), Brian Colhounyan (TERMINALFOUR), Benjamin Mack (TYPO3), Ken Wasetis (Plone), Jeff Kline (Accrisoft), and Casey Neehouse (Umbraco). The following questions were asked either by the moderator, Tony White, or audience members. The panels' answers to these questions are paraphrased.  

What features in your CMS make it a good choice for government?

  • Plone - Government is already actively using Plone. Plone can address complex and flexible workflow. Import/export capability for security purposes.
  • TYPO3 - Addresses accessibility (Section 508 in US government).
  • Umbraco - Lots of state agencies are switching to .Net CMS. Umbraco and Dotnetnuke are .Net CMS. Section 508 compliance. 
  • Accrisoft - Local government is the specific client for this company...delivering a turnkey solution.
  • TERMINALFOUR - The UN is a client. Multi-language is why the UN chose TERMINALFOUR for their CMS. 
  • SilverStripe - SilverStripe sees government as partners and have built a very robust product that can be used by government.
  • DotNetNuke - Microsoft has helped partner with DotNetNuke which has been a positive in introducing DNN and open source to all level of governments.

Question from someone here at US DOD asking about CMS experience with classified information?

  • Plone is stepping up fto be used with classified information. Audience member is really concerned about upgrades and future add-ons and impact to the site.
  • Conversation is migrating toward security...so TERMINALFOUR is addressing those issues.
  • Umbraco - Has the potential to support a static publishing XML model to help with security.
  • DNN - Has focused on security and audit capabilities.
  • Tony White - Bringing up his experience has shown that providing CMS services toward the state level is much more difficult than federal and local government entities. 

Interoperability and CMIS to connect with SharePoint and other systems in government?

  • DotNetNuke - working on a SharePoint connecter.
  • Plone - A Python library assists in with some of the connectivity.
  • Umbraco - A number of solutions to integrate...not quite interoperable but a lot of choices.
  • Tony White - System integrator people are available to work with customer and provide CMS solution with interoperability.
  • TERMINALFOUR - Offers a number of platform migration options.
  • Umbraco - Lots of people requesting to move from WordPress to other sites.
  • TYPO3 - CMSs such as TYPO3 often plays a role but is usually part of a system and not a complete replacement.

Support for Active Directory, Open ID, and other authentication methods?

  • DotNetNuke - Offers a large variety of authentication methods...including third party applications.
  • Umbraco - Offers a separation of front-end and back-end authentication.
  • SilverStripe - AD authentication also available. 

Mobile access and accessibility issues- Are they relying on HTML 5 and CSS. Roadmaps to HTML 5?

  • TYPO3 - Local companies that partner with TYPO3 are pushing HTML 5 into the product.
  • Umbraco - Customization would allow you to do a variety of options. Plans are already in the pipeline for future versions.
  • DotNetNuke - Can support HTML 5 today. But the problem is most users are using browsers that can't use HTML 5. This is especially in government systems where IE6 is common...so at this point and time HTML 5 is not the complete answer.
  • SilverStripe - HTML 5 compatibly projects are in the works.
  • TERMINALFOUR - Along with SilverStripe agrees that you want to look at other products and services that would assist HTML 5.

From a design perspective, lots of municipal and state sites our poorly designed. Design integrity, thoughts?

  • TERMINALFOUR - User testing and usability is lacking at many of the government sites. 
  • Tony White - Problem isn't the CMS, but often the client that doesn't want to pay for the design.
  • Umbraco - Lack of testing and lack of usability focus in government.
  • Accrisoft - Problem is local municipalities are budget strapped and go for the lowest bid with design left out. One of the reasons Accrisoft tends not to go after the very low end of government. 
  • SilverStripe - Has separated development and design services.

At the end of this panel discussion, I think the question of "what is the right CMS for government?" still remains unanswered. The impression that I'm left with is content management needs for government is complex and definitely too complex to be adequately addressed in a one hour discussion. Those CMS leaders that participated on this panel already knew the difficulty they would have in helping the audience learn how their CMS could be best used in government. I believe the audience was thankful for them to at least begin the discussion by being on this panel.