An introduction to digital governance

Understand how and why to implement digital governance

What is digital governance?

Governance can be defined as the act or process of governing or overseeing the control and direction of something (such as a country or an organization) [1]. For federal agencies, digital governance refers to the internal systems and processes we use to manage our digital presence, including:

  • Establishing clear operating rules
  • Defining responsibilities and lines of authority
  • Creating mechanisms to ensure those rules and authorities are followed

Why is digital governance important?

Just as a magazine has an editor-in-chief, someone must be in charge of the public’s experience on a federal government website. Digital governance clarifies who’s responsible for the management and operation of your agency’s websites and digital services. It includes content, design, technical infrastructure, security, funding, and product, project, and program management. A strong governance structure improves public trust through better organizational performance, and better customer outcomes.

How to implement digital governance

Every federal agency should have an enterprise-wide governance structure that provides both high-level strategic direction and oversight, as well as day-to-day management and coordination of digital initiatives.

There are several things to consider when setting up your structure. The enterprise-wide governance body should be empowered and members should have:

  • A leadership role in your existing agency digital governance structure
  • The ability to coordinate across agency business lines
  • Regular interactions with agency executives responsible for web and digital service delivery
  • Experience designing and delivering key agency websites and digital services, including the flagship site
  • Experience interpreting and implementing web and digital policy
  • Experience working with governmentwide communities of practice

Additionally, each agency must have a digital experience delivery lead as required by Agency action #1: Identify digital experience delivery lead in OMB M-23-22, Delivering a Digital-First Public Experience. Work with your agency’s digital experience delivery lead to align agency efforts with the governmentwide strategy and goals.

Case study

At the General Services Administration (GSA), we operate a Digital Experience Executive Board, supported by an agency-wide Digital Council. The Board is composed of senior executives who provide high-level direction, and Council members coordinate implementation of digital initiatives within their business line. We also have an Enterprise Digital Experience team to coordinate enterprise improvements to our agency’s digital experience. Read more about digital governance at GSA.

We also defined the work of a website manager and identified one website manager for each digital property at GSA. Then, we updated their position descriptions.

Note that digital governance may look different at your agency, depending on how digital teams and functions are organized.

Another key component of governance is to ensure that employees who manage digital properties have appropriate language in their position descriptions describing these duties. Accurate position descriptions enable employees to get credit in their performance plans for this important and complex work. Senior leaders should also have appropriate language in their performance plans related to digital service delivery, to ensure accountability and oversight.

In addition to a website manager, Who’s on your digital dream team? explains the various roles your agency should include on your web team(s).

Governance resources


Web Managers Community

The Web Managers Community of Practice is a group of government employees and contractors who manage government websites and digital services. They work to create a trusted, seamless online experience for all. Join the Web Managers Community.


  1. Merriam-Webster. 2018. “Definition of GOVERNANCE.” 2018.