New policy website offers improved navigation, search features

The Office of Ethics and Policy’s new website puts more than 1,350 policy documents at your fingertips, boosting transparency.

The Bell Tower.
(Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

A new policy website is a one-stop shop for locating University-wide policies for administrative units like human resources, equal opportunity and compliance, finance, information technology and others.

The site, policies.unc.edu, is home to more than 1,350 documents, including 900 policies, procedures and standards, and provides new features to make the site easier to find, navigate and search.

The Well recently talked to Jen DeNeal, associate director, and Matthew Teal, University policy analyst, both in the Office of Ethics and Policy, about the new site and the important role policies play for Carolina.

How will employees benefit from this new website?

DeNeal: Our new website helps us live out our commitment to transparency by providing the University’s administrative policies in one place, making the policy process more accessible and easier for our employees. The site brings together policies on a central site, rather than having them in multiple locations. And the new site is mobile-friendly and easier to navigate and search.

What’s not included on this website are academic policies, such as grading, curriculum or class attendance, or anything in the University catalog.

What improvements will employees see on the site?

Teal: First, the site’s URL is easier to find: policies.unc.edu. The new address switches from a dot-com to a unc.edu address, making the site easier for employees to find and making it more credible.

The new website allows better results with search engines, so it’s easier for employees to find a policy, even if they just do a Google search for it. The site also offers more functionality, including the ability to set up employee groups for policies that have limited access, such as the University’s internal audit policies. The document management system also improves compatibility with digital screen readers, increasing digital accessibility on the site.

Are departments and units also housing policies on this website?

DeNeal: While this site is the central site for administrative policies, such as finance’s more than 300 policies, several departments and units across the University have chosen to house their policies on this site, including the Adams School of Dentistry and the schools of medicine and nursing. It’s not mandatory that they put their policies on this site, but we’re glad those schools see the benefit of having the information in one place.

What was the process to implement the new website and who provided input?

Teal: We started by researching document management systems and comparing them to the needs we identified for our website. Developing this website was a collaborative process and we sought feedback from our key stakeholders, including the Office of Human Resources, ITS, Finance and Operations and the School of Medicine.

It was a group discussion, from very technical users to people who are end users and may go into the system only a few times a year. We needed a diverse set of perspectives and skill sets.

As we worked through the new website, we also contacted policy owners to be sure they were accountable for the policy and to be sure the policy was still necessary.

It’s important to understand that while the new site is up and running, we are still working through the transition. Part of the work includes re-establishing about 10,000 links between policies.

Our process is now a best practice and we recently shared it at the annual conference for the Association of College and University Policy Administrators.

We’re giving people the tools to write better policies and be informed about what they’re supposed to be doing.

How has the website evolved since your office was created?

Teal: The Office of Ethics and Policy was created in 2016 out of recommendations from two working groups, one on ethics and integrity and the other on policy and procedure, “to strengthen a culture of ethical behavior and integrity and provide a robust structure for policy management practices that support such behavior.”

At the time the office was created, the team inherited a website that had a page for policies that linked to other policy repositories. This new site creates a central resource for employees to easily find the policies they need.

In addition to the website, the Office of Ethics and Policy has also transformed the University’s policy process, revised numerous policies and put in place a regular policy review process. Information about the policy review process, policy committee members, meeting dates and policy document templates are all available on the website.

What other resources does the Office of Ethics and Policy provide?

Teal: Site visitors can find training information, policy-related blog posts and notes about recently updated policies.