Wednesday, May 18, 2011

DHS Updated CFATS Knowledge Center and one FAQ Change

Today DHS ISCD Help Desk folks updated the CFATS Knowledge Center page and updated one of the many Frequently Asked Questions accessed from that page. The changes to the page are mainly housekeeping, making the display of information cleaner. The updated FAQ response is also mainly housekeeping in its scope. Housekeeping, however, is an important task that needs periodic attention.

Updated Format

Minor formatting changes were made to two sections of the page, the ‘Latest News’ section in the upper right and the ‘Documentation’ section in the lower left. There is also a formatting change on the listing of the FAQ questions and the ISCD response to those questions.

They have added a date for each of the entries in the ‘Latest News Section’ and limited the amount of print shown on the main page. There is a link to the remainder of the information for that news bite. If it was my page, I would have removed two or three of the later items; the oldest dates back to October of last year and it hardly rates as ‘News’.

The ‘News’ section change is relatively obvious and would be noticed by just about anyone that visits the page routinely. The ‘Documentation’ section would probably only be noticed by the anal retentive visitors. There are still four pages of documentation listing, but now there are six documents instead of five on each of those pages; an earth shaking change, obviously.

The Help Desk folks have added another date to the listing of each of the FAQ questions. They have kept the ‘Last Modified’ date and added a ‘Date Published’ listing. Actually that name is slightly misleading, but it sounds better than ‘Date of Previous Change and/or Original Publication’. For example the FAQ response updated in today’s change shows a ‘Date Published’ of ‘July 1, 2009’. It was actually first published on October 3, 2008 and revised on July 2, 2009 not July 1st. Okay, July 1st/July 2nd , that’s really nit picking.

In the response to each FAQ, there is now a clickable option to print a .PDF file of that particular FAQ and its response. I’m not sure how often that capability will actually be used, but it is an additional way of providing information to the chemical security community so I applaud the effort.

FAQ 1588 Response Updated

They updated the response to FAQ 1588; “Can you tell me where I can find additional information on CVI?” They updated the link to the Chemical Security landing page where there is a link to the CVI web page. That seems convoluted, but the landing page link should stay constant where as the URL for the CVI web page will change as changes are made to that web page.

Playing Games with Dates Again

In the process of writing this posting I had a chance to look a little more closely at the list of FAQ sorted by date and it once again appears that someone at ISCD is playing some games with dating of posts. FAQ #41 has re-appeared on the page after a couple of months of absence and the most recent change date is now listed as March 14th. Readers of this blog may remember my exchange about this FAQ in a blog posts dated March 12th and March 13th. Actually I’m glad to see this FAQ back on the page even if the dating is incorrect.

Additionally, there is now a FAQ change dated March 29th, 2011 for FAQ 1474; “In User Registration, what do I put for the county if our facility's city isn't a part of a county?” As early as 8:00 a.m. EDT this morning the latest changed FAQ listed before April 13th listing for the article on the Chemical Sector Security Summit was the January 11th FAQ response to the FAQ 1712 about the SSP Webinar.

The change made to FAQ 1474 was actually just a correction to a typo in the question; changing ‘part of a country’ to ‘part of a county’ at the end of the question. This is not an earth shaking change and there is little difference if that change was made on March 29th or today. The only reason that I mention these two dating discrepancies is that it is beginning to look like there is a pattern emerging of people making changes to the CFATS web site and playing fast and loose with the dating of the changes.

These dates have little to do with the information provided, they were added to the web pages (a move I applauded years ago) to make it easier to track when changes are made to pages. The games apparently being played with these dates make no sense, but they will make it harder and more time consuming for people like me who closely watch these pages to detect changes to the web site. It also causes one to reconsider the faith one places in the integrity of the data presented on these pages; if stupid games are being played with the dates, what games are being played with the data?

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