Web Integrity Project Publications
Navigate to our different types of publications below:
Research and Policy Analyses
- Letter to the National Archives and Records Administration Regarding Improving Management of Federal Web Records Guidelines – Alex Howard, Toly Rinberg, Andrew Bergman (Sunlight Foundation), Gavin Baker (American Library Association), & Lisa Rosenberg (OpenTheGovernment) – November 14, 2017
- How to classify changes to government websites: A classification of Web content alterations and changes in access to Web resources (v1.1) – Toly Rinberg & Andrew Bergman – October 4, 2017
- WIP 1-Pager – June 6, 2018
- WIP’s Journalist Pool Policy
- WIP’s Website Monitoring Report Production Protocol
- Web Integrity Project Organizational Plan – February 2, 2018
- Hire Posting: Senior Investigator – February 2018 – Closed
- Hire Posting: Website Monitoring Analyst – February 2018 – Closed
- Volunteer Flyer: Website Monitoring Volunteer Analyst – February 2018
Explained: The federal government’s responsibilities to provide online content in non-English languages (2/14/2019) - A portion of the "Multilingual Resources Page" on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website as of February 14, 2019 (see snapshot from that date captured by the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine). This is an example of a "key resources page," one of the approaches WIP has seen federal agencies take in providing access Read More
HHS Office of Population Affairs removed Affordable Care Act content from Title X website (2/7/2019) - Without notice to the public, the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Population Affairs (OPA) removed a collection of ten pages related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) from its “Title X Family Planning” website. These changes, which occurred between April and May of 2017, are documented in the Web Integrity Project’s Read More
CMS de-emphasizes HealthCare.gov and steers consumers towards brokers and agents for help finding insurance plans (12/20/2018) - Consumer experience highlights potential risks of relying on agents and brokers, as the Trump administration loosens rules on health plans that do not comply with the Affordable Care Act
Researchers try to cope without HHS public medical guideline database five months after its takedown (12/18/2018) - A nonprofit has launched a hopeful replacement as HHS agency pays for a study on how to disseminate guidelines in the future
In overhaul of HealthCare.gov webpage, information about ways to apply is gone (12/11/2018) - Links on the ACA enrollment page now direct to third-party sites, including a for-profit assistance system
CMS removes PDF used to train assisters in providing healthcare outreach to Latino communities (12/6/2018) - The training resource, which had still-accurate information, was taken down from the CMS.gov Health Insurance Marketplace website without notice
The Web Integrity Project welcomes Sarah John as its Director of Research (11/14/2018) - We’re thrilled to announce that Sarah John is joining the Web Integrity Project as its new Director of Research! Sarah brings to WIP several years of research management experience at non-profits, including Legal Services Corporation and FairVote.
Explained: Scheduled downtime of Healthcare.gov during open enrollment (10/31/2018) - Maintenance downtimes warrant scrutiny, but experts say they’re probably reasonable and necessary.
HHS dropped “gender” from civil rights webpages in early 2018 (10/23/2018) - Recent reporting that HHS memo is seeking to legally redefine gender provides insight into the shift in terminology.
The Web Integrity Project receives a generous boost in funding (10/10/2018) - A contribution from Mike Klein, Sunlight Foundation’s Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board, enables the expansion of WIP’s work monitoring and reporting on federal website changes.
Takedown of DOJ juvenile justice office webpages about still-active initiatives highlights its shift towards a more punitive approach (10/4/2018) - Current policy guidance on girls in the justice system and info about commitment to stop youth solitary confinement were removed
White House takes down archive of daily newsletter from website without notice (9/13/2018) - Amidst website redesign, White House removes archive of its widely read newsletter,"1600 Daily," effectively eliminating a significant record of its past communications.
Office of Refugee Resettlement quietly removes entire staff directory webpage (8/14/2018) - A page listing email addresses and phone numbers for 22 members of ORR's leadership was taken down without notice
HHS in-house think tank sidelines ACA publications (7/28/2018) - Healthcare research from the Obama administration has been buried by the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, or ASPE.
Explained: The shutdown of the National Guideline Clearinghouse and the independent efforts to launch a replacement (7/20/2018) - New context from a Harvard Law copyright expert, the non-profit that will be launching new efforts to compile medical guidelines, and a Stanford health economist.
HHS removes sex discrimination prohibition language from civil rights office website (7/19/2018) - Foreshadowing a possible shift in anti-discrimination policy, still-accurate content about sex discrimination was removed by the Office for Civil Rights.
HHS to shut down public medical guideline database, go-to for physicians (7/12/2018) - The key website for curating medical guidelines, widely used by medical professionals, was scheduled to go offline on July 16. HHS cites budget cuts as the reason.
14-Page Affordable Care Act website removed from Medicaid.gov (7/12/2018) - For the nearly 73.8 million Americans enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and others newly eligible for these services, it has recently become much more difficult to learn about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on Medicaid.gov. Early last month, a 14-page website dedicated to the ACA was removed from Medicaid.gov, the Read More
USCIS takes down 26 PDFs for training asylum officers from its website (5/31/2018) - The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) removed a cache of materials on its asylum process shortly after President Donald Trump took office, a reduction in access detailed in our latest Web Integrity Project report. The 26 removed documents, which collectively run to several hundred pages, constitute training materials for USCIS asylum officers, offering detailed Read More
Affordable Care Act page quietly removed from Medicare website (5/17/2018) - Internet Archive's Wayback Machine snapshot of the removed “The Affordable Care Act & Medicare” page from December 18, 2017. If you’re one of the over 55 million people who is covered by Medicare, you might want to know a bit about if and how your coverage is affected by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). What preventive Read More
Aaron Lemelin joins the Web Integrity Project as a Website Monitoring Analyst (5/10/2018) - We’re excited to welcome the Web Integrity Project’s newest member, Aaron Lemelin! Aaron will be helping the team by monitoring and documenting changes to federal websites, across health and health care, immigration, and other domains. Aaron is bringing website monitoring experience from his past contracting work with WIP and from volunteering with the Environmental Data Read More
National Archives publishes online dashboard of its investigations into lost, altered or destroyed public records (4/24/2018) - In spring 2018, for the first time the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) has begun using the Internet to inform the American public about its ongoing investigations of unauthorized dispositions in an online dashboard. In a year that continues to be marked by regression on open government, this is a welcome development that shines Read More
Following scrutiny of website removal, HHS women’s health office adds breast cancer page (4/6/2018) - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office on Women’s Health has added a single webpage about breast cancer to its WomensHealth.gov, after removing more than half a dozen pages about the topic without public notice.
Unexplained censorship of women’s health website renews questions about Trump administration commitment to public health (4/2/2018) - An archived snapshot of the removed Office on Women's Health Breast Cancer website main page from the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine on June 27, 2017. Today, the Web Integrity Project released our third report about Web censorship at the Office on Women’s Health (OWH). As we have released these reports, journalists and members of the Read More
Federal women’s health office obscures lesbian and bisexual fact sheet online (3/21/2018) - The "Lesbian and bisexual health" page is no longer linked from anywhere on the Office of Women's Health website and the previous URL leads to a removed page. Lesbian and bisexual women will no longer be able to navigate to a page related to their specific health needs on the Office of Women’s Health website. The Read More
Jon Campbell joins the Web Integrity Project as senior investigator (3/6/2018) - We’re proud to announce that @j0ncampbell has joined the @sunfoundation, working with @tolyrinberg @andmbergman @rachelkbergman & @digiphile on our @SunWebIntegrity project! https://t.co/v9A0vVSaBB (We all discovered today that wind is not the best disinfectant.) pic.twitter.com/XVN32mgdug — Sunlight Foundation (@SunFoundation) March 2, 2018 The Web Integrity Project is excited to welcome Jon Campbell as its new senior investigator. Read More
In website reshuffle, federal committee makes reports on collecting sexual orientation and gender identity data inaccessible (3/2/2018) - Links from the Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology website that previously directed to SOGI statistical methods reports now direct to "under construction" pages If you visit the website for the Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology (FCSM), you’ll find that many of the links for reports lead to dead pages or PDFs that say, “this page Read More
Why we’re launching the Web Integrity Project (2/2/2018) - The mission of the Web Integrity Project (WIP) is to monitor changes to government websites, holding our government accountable by revealing shifts in public information and access to Web resources, as well as changes in stated policies and priorities.
In its first year, the Trump administration has reduced public information online (1/4/2018) - Almost a year into the Trump presidency, we have seen are substantial public information removals and overhauls of federal webpages, documents, and entire websites, as well as significant shifts in language and messaging across the federal Web domain.
How federal agencies are quietly removing government Web resources, and why it matters (11/15/2017) - Under the Trump administration, federal agencies have been removing important Web resources without proactive notice or justification. We should hold our government accountable to clearly explain its actions and not remove Web content when there’s no good reason for doing so.
Classifying changes to public access to information on US government websites (10/4/2017) - Changes to Web content can be especially confusing and opaque to the public when agencies don’t proactively document and explain how and why they change their websites. By clearly laying out how agencies are managing Web resources and changing websites using this classification system, our goal is to inform the public and lawmakers, gain insight Read More
Changes to USGS website highlight the importance of search for public access (9/22/2017) - If the public cannot find a resource in a search result list anymore, can that public information still be said to be accessible? Yes, and no.
What we’ve learned about the Trump administration’s changes to government websites won’t shock you (8/8/2017) - In 2017, there have been major reductions to public access to public information about the environment, energy, and climate change on federal websites, including EPA, DOE, DOT, Interior, State, USDA and the White House.
Why we’re joining Sunlight to report on public access to public information (8/8/2017) - We're monitoring changes public access to public information on federal government websites under the Trump administration.
Website Monitoring Reports
|17||Removal of a Collection of Webpages Related to the Affordable Care Act from HHS’s Office of Population Affairs Website||02/07/19||Department of Health and Human Services | The Office of Population Affairs, under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), removed a collection of ten webpages related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) from its “Title X Family Planning” website. The removed pages included a main ACA page, titled “Affordable Care Act,” which linked to three pages titled “Initiatives,” “Resources,” and “Contraceptive Coverage.”||WIP blog post, Politico Pulse, Government Executive|
|MR3||Link for HealthCare.gov removed from CMS.gov header||12/14/18||Department of Health and Human Services | In mid-October 2018, a few weeks before the beginning of the Open Enrollment period to sign up for ACA coverage, the text “Learn about your health care options,” which included a link to the HealthCare.gov homepage, was removed from its prominent position in the the header of the CMS.gov domain. HealthCare.gov, which is managed and paid for by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), is the primary federal health insurance exchange established under provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).|
|16||Overhaul of HealthCare.gov’s “Apply for Health Insurance” Webpage ||12/10/18||Department of Health and Human Services | Midway through the open enrollment period, between November 14 and November 21, 2018, HealthCare.gov’s “Apply for Health Insurance” page was overhauled by changing the page’s format and altering a list of ways to apply for health insurance. Previously, the page contained a table that listed five ways to apply, now it contains four ways. The overhaul included removals and additions of links listed within each way to apply.||WIP blog post, Axios, NJTV News, Modern Healthcare|
|15||Removal of the “Marketplace Outreach: Best Practices for Outreach to Latino Communities” PDF from CMS’s Health Insurance Marketplace Website||12/3/18||Department of Health and Human Services | In September 2018, a PDF titled “Marketplace Outreach: Best Practices for Outreach to Latino Communities” was removed from the Health Insurance Marketplace website, a subdomain of CMS.gov. Links and text corresponding to the PDF were also removed from the website’s “Training for navigators, agents, brokers, and other assisters” and “Special populations” webpages.||WIP blog post, Washington Post Health 202, Rewire, Politico Pulse, GovExec|
|MR2||Removal of Mentions of the Term "Gender" from HHS's Office for Civil Rights "Discrimination on the Basis of Sex" Webpage (Mini-report)||10/22/18||Department of Health and Human Services | In the beginning of 2018, HHS’s Office for Civil Rights’ (OCR) “Discrimination on the Basis of Sex” page (Webpage 1) was altered to remove 10 mentions of the term “gender.” These changes preceded reporting by The New York Times from October 21, revealing that HHS has internally circulated a memo that aims to legally redefine sex as an immutable trait determined by one’s genitalia at birth, which would impact how OCR oversees Title IX’s prohibition on sex discrimination in educational programs receiving federal financial assistance.||WIP blog post, ThinkProgress|
|MR1||Removal of EPA's "CASAC Particulate Matter Review Panel (2015-2018)" Webpage (Mini-report)||10/12/18||Environmental Protection Agency | On October 11, the publication date of a New York Times piece linking the EPA’s “CASAC Particulate Matter Review Panel (2015-2018)” page (Webpage 1), that page was removed. The CASAC “Committees and Membership” page (Webpage 2), which had previously linked that page, was also altered that day to remove that link and an additional link.|
|14||Language Shifts on the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s “Vision and Mission” and “About” Webpages||10/4/18||Department of Justice | The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) altered language on its “Vision and Mission” and “About” webpages. Shifts in language include removing text stating that OJJDP supports the development and implementation of "coordinated prevention and intervention programs" and provides "treatment and rehabilitative services" from the mission statement on the “Vision and Mission” page, and replacing the term “justice-involved youth” with “offenders."||WIP blog post, NBC News, The Guardian, HuffPost|
|13||Reduction in Access to Pages about Programs and Policy Guidance on the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Website||10/4/18||Department of Justice | The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has reduced access to webpages about programs and policy guidance. Several links corresponding to webpages about OJJDP programs and policy guidance have been removed from or added to the “OJJDP In Focus” and “Programs and Initiatives” pages. Many of the pages that correspond to removed links have been completely removed, including a page with a policy guidance titled “Girls and the Juvenile Justice System.”||Co-released with Report #14|
|12||Removal of WhiteHouse.gov’s “1600 Daily” Archive||9/13/18||White House | The White House removed the “1600 Daily” newsletter archive from its website and is no longer storing past posts on WhiteHouse.gov. The removal coincided with an overhaul of the style and organization of the White House’s website, which occurred in mid-December 2017. Previous “1600 Daily” post URLs from before the overhaul lead to a notice stating “That page cannot be found.”||WIP blog post, Quartz|
|11||Removal of HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement Staff Directory Webpage||8/14/18||Department of Health and Human Services | In late 2017, HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement removed its staff directory webpage, which listed contact information for 22 staff across internal divisions of ORR. The contact information is no longer available anywhere on the ORR website, and only a centralized email and phone number for media inquiries remain, with no name for an individual staff contact attached to them.||WIP blog post, Newsweek, Politico Morning Shift, La Opinión, ThinkProgress, Axios|
|10||Changes in Language and Removals of Descriptive Text on ASPE’s Website, Reducing Emphasis on the Affordable Care Act||7/28/18||Department of Health and Human Services | In 2017, the office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) altered and added webpages on its website about research related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), demonstrating a shift in language, which deemphasized the stated positive impacts of the health care law. The title of its “Affordable Care Act Research” webpage was changed to “Historical Research.”||WIP blog post co-released with Politico|
|9||Language Removals Pertaining to Sex Discrimination from HHS’s Office for Civil Rights Webpages about Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act||7/19/18||Department of Health and Human Services | Between March and August 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) removed language relating to sex discrimination and prohibitions on sex discrimination on several webpages about Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Mentions of “sex stereotyping” and information about sex discrimination on the basis of gender identity and termination of pregnancy were removed.||WIP blog post, Washington Post Health 202, Pacific Standard, Politico Pulse|
|8||Notice of Removal on HHS’s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Clearinghouse Websites||7/12/18||Department of Health and Human Services | Between April and May 2018, HHS’s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) added a notice of removal on its National Guideline Clearinghouse and National Quality Measures Clearinghouse websites, stating that the websites “will not be available after July 16, 2018.”||WIP investigation in The Daily Beast, sourced: Vox, Washington Post Health 202|
|7||Removal of the Affordable Care Act Website from within Medicaid.gov||7/12/18||Department of Health and Human Services | In June 2018, the “Affordable Care Act” website, which contained fourteen webpages, was removed from within Medicaid.gov. The main page of the website, which was itself titled “Affordable Care Act,” had links to thirteen pages with topics related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that have also been removed. Medicaid.gov’s top menu previously listed a prominent link with the text “Affordable Care Act,” which served as a dropdown menu with links to the removed pages.||WIP blog post, CNN, Washington Post Health 202, Politico Pulse, Pacific Standard, Government Executive|
|6||Removal of 26 Documents for Asylum Officer Training from the USCIS Website||5/31/18||Department of Homeland Security | Between March and April 2017, a series of 26 documents pertaining to training asylum officers were removed from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. The materials were prepared for personnel charged with reviewing and vetting asylum claims under certain international agreements and provisions of U.S. law.||WIP blog post, La Opinión, Splinter, Newsweek, Government Executive|
|5||Removal of the “Affordable Care Act & Medicare” Webpage and Corresponding Links from the Medicare Website||5/17/18||Department of Health and Human Services | In December 2017, a page titled “The Affordable Care Act & Medicare” was removed from the Medicare website. The page previously linked to healthcare.gov, which is the federal health insurance marketplace, and to another webpage on the Medicare domain called “Medicare & the Marketplace,” which is no longer linked from the “About Us” portion of the Medicare website||WIP blog post, Pacific Standard, The Outline, Government Executive, The Hill|
|4||Removal of Breast Cancer Website and Related Webpages from within HHS's Office on Women's Health Website||4/2/18||Department of Health and Human Services | The “Breast Cancer” website and related pages were removed from within the HHS's Office on Women’s Health (OWH) website. While content about mammogram breast cancer screening remains, informational pages and factsheets about the disease, including symptoms, treatment, risk factors, and public no- or low-cost cancer screening programs, have been entirely removed and are no longer found elsewhere on the OWH site.||WIP blog post, ThinkProgress, The Hill, Politico Pulse, Newsweek, Bustle, Medpage Today, Fortune|
|3||Removal of Webpage and Corresponding Links Pertaining to Lesbian and Bisexual Health from HHS’s Office of Women’s Health Website||3/21/18||Department of Health and Human Services | The Office of Women’s Health (OWH) removed a webpage with extensive information about lesbian and bisexual health, and links that correspond to that webpage, from its website. A PDF containing very similar content to the removed page is live but is not linked from elsewhere in the OWH website, rendering it inaccessible by navigating through the website.||WIP blog post, Politico, NBC News, The Hill, Vice News, The Daily Dot, Jezebel|
|2||Overview of HHS’s Office of Women’s Health Website Overhaul: Removal of Resources and Corresponding Link Alterations on the A-Z Health Topics Page||3/21/18||Department of Health and Human Services | The Office of Women’s Health (OWH) removed portions of its website, including text, links, and entire pages and documents. Pages and links to pages related to lesbian and bisexual health, breast cancer, men’s health, interpersonal and domestic violence, and health topics relevant to the elderly have been removed.||Co-released with Report #3|
|1||Removal of the FedStats Website and Reduction in Access to Statistical Methods Reports on the Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology Website||3/2/18||Office of Management and Budget | Statistical resources that were previously accessible from the Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology's (FCSM) website and the removed FedStats websites are now inaccessible from the relaunched FCSM website. Among the inaccessible resources are reports about sexual orientation and gender identity data collection methods.||WIP blog post, Politico Pulse|