I recently wrote about how open source content management system (CMS) platforms like Drupal have gained a foothold in the government sector. However, the majority of enterprise-level CMS implementations at the Federal Government level are run by the big boys, including longtime market leaders Vignette (now part of Open Text) and Autonomy Interwoven. Other large providers with a significant number of federal clients include Broadvision, Percussion Rhythmyx, Stellent (now part of Oracle), and EMC Documentum.
It has been a long, gradual process for federal organizations to tackle agency-wide CMS initiatives. But we’re seeing some recent momentum. Both the Center’s for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) – two huge agencies – are in the process of rolling out improved CMS solutions.
Drupal is arguably the most well known and widely used open source content management system (CMS). It’s a very robust platform that allows its active, devoted developer community to customize and extend the CMS to do great things.
An unlikely adopter of Drupal over the past couple of years has been the U.S. Federal Government. And it now seems like a very timely move given Obama’s Open Government Initiative. The Drupal community rejoiced with the February 2009 announcement that the new Recovery.gov was running on Drupal. This was arguably the most high profile site (certainly in the Federal Government space) to launch on Drupal. However, the site later migrated to MS Sharepoint.
There’s debate on the reason behind the switch from Drupal to Sharepoint. Some say that Sharepoint is simply the platform of preference for the company that took over the contract, Maryland-based Smartronix Inc., and that they lacked in Drupal expertise. Others say that Drupal ended up being limited in its ability to manage the necessary workflow for the financial data that the site displays.
My guess is that it was more of a case of the new contractor needing to deliver a proposal that differentiated itself from the incumbent contractor. One good approach to doing that is to propose a new platform, and then explain your reasoning for why it’s a better option than the existing technology. The argument was made that going with MS Sharepoint offered a lot of benefit in how quickly the site could be built (apparently they only had 11 weeks). This is certainly a valid argument over building your own content CMS, but we know Drupal can also be deployed very quickly. Here’s an interesting article on the site’s switch to Sharepoint.
Drupal fans didn’t have to wait long for another, and even more prominent, success story. The new Whitehouse.gov was launched on Drupal around the same time that Recovery.gov dropped the open source platform.
The Department of Commerce and National Institutes of Health have also used Drupal, and NASA has also been reported to have used Drupal for some for internal sites.
Find out if a site is running Drupal
You might be interested in knowing if a particular site is built using Drupal. You may be able to tell be checking out the source code, or you can try this site – http://isthissitebuiltwithdrupal.com – which lets you enter a URL and it will run an instant check for you.