Remarks to the Financial Literacy and Education Commission
Sharon Brown-Hruska, Chairman of the Website Subcommittee
U.S. Department of Treasury, Cash Room
Washington, D.C., May 20, 2004
Thank you, Secretary Abernathy, for the opportunity to address you today. I would like to thank you and the many people I see around the table, those in the audience, and others who have worked diligently on this effort to advance an effective strategy to expand financial literacy. At the previous meeting of the Financial Literacy and Education Commission, a subcommittee was formed to develop a strategy to establish and maintain a website to serve as a clearinghouse for information on financial literacy. The Subcommittee held its inaugural meeting on March 15 to outline and adopt a plan to fulfill its mission. At that meeting, the Subcommittee agreed to the formation of an interagency working group to conduct research and provide recommendations regarding the content and technical implementation of the website. The Subcommittee also approved a charter to guide the working group with respect to expectations regarding its tasks. The Subcommittee met again on May 11 to receive an update from the working group and to discuss issues and provide further guidance.
The working group has made significant progress towards developing an implementation
plan for a financial literacy and education website. To date the following
accomplishments can be cited:
1. To provide guidance with respect to what content should be made available on the website, the working group recommended and the Subcommittee agreed that the guiding definition for financial literacy would be “Knowing enough about managing money to make wise decisions and avoid fraud.”
2. The Subcommittee has agreed that the most efficient approach to implementing a website is in the form of a portal linking to content on other pertinent websites. In addition, the website will implement a parallel pathway, as Commission member agencies will be able to link to the Commission website.
3. The working group also recommended that, in the initial stages of development and
launch of the website, decisions with regard to content and web links would be guided
by the mission statement to gather current financial literacy information authored and
maintained by members of the FLEC. Many of our members, however, partner with and have
relationships with other organizations that also produce high-quality financial
education information and will also be considered for sources of material. In
developing our first cut list of suggested website links, the Subcommittee has
initially determined to create a portal that links to sites that are operated and
managed by Federal agencies.
The evaluation of non-governmental sites is proceeding to ensure that they adhere to guidelines established by the Subcommittee. The interagency working group will also include for consideration within the scope of this effort .edu and .org websites because of their potential for providing useful information. As an initial matter, however, we are concentrating upon coordinating all Federal agency financial literacy materials and useful existing materials. After that objective has been met, the working group will identify any additional original content that may need to be developed.
4. With respect to initial and future implementation of the website, the working group has partnered with the General Services Administration to produce a mockup of the taxonomy of areas of interest and content to be contained in the website. Such mockup could be implemented as a functioning website with the approval of the Commission within a short time frame. To facilitate an implementation, GSA’s Federal Citizen Information Center has identified and reserved potential web addresses for the website. Moreover, FirstGov.gov, the official web portal of the Federal Government, has agreed to provide preliminary support to host the Commission’s portal in its initial stages.
While the working groups and subcommittee have made great strides in developing guidelines and identifying content materials for inclusion on the Commission website, further work is being conducted on the design of a long-term strategy for maintaining the website. In this regard, the working group intends to develop and analyze a minimum of three alternatives for the long-term implementation of the website. These alternatives would provide different levels of service to those accessing the site. For each alternative, the working group will provide estimates for the costs and timetables required to implement the long-term strategy.
Finally, the Website Subcommittee has enjoyed a fruitful collaboration with the Toll-free Hotline Subcommittee and has agreed to develop a joint strategy that would unify our efforts to ensure delivery of integrated content across multiple avenues of accessibility, usability and value. In combination with the toll-free number initiative, the Subcommittee has accepted the recommendation of its working group to provide an online link that would allow consumers to order a financial literacy education package to be distributed by the Federal Citizen Information Center facility in Pueblo, Colorado. Finally, the Website Subcommittee is coordinating its development and launch of the Financial Literacy and Education Commission website with the anticipated launch of the toll-free number, consistent with the implementation of an effective national strategy.