Ninety-two percent of the most popular Federal websites fail to meet standards in either security, speed, mobile friendliness, or accessibility, according to a study released Wednesday by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.
ITIF studied 297 Federal government websites and ranked them based on Federal requirements and industry best practices.
“Despite years of progress in digital government, a striking number of Federal websites do not even meet many of the U.S. government’s own requirements, let alone private sector best practices,” said Alan McQuinn, research analyst for ITIF and lead author of the report. “Considering that many constituents rely on Federal websites to interact with government, it is incumbent upon the new administration, supported by Congress, to make websites more convenient, accessible, and secure.”
The five highest performing websites were healthdata.gov, healthfinder.gov, consumerfinance.gov, whitehouse.gov under the Trump administration, and usembassy.gov. The five lowest performing websites were the U.S. Public Health Service’s usphs.gov, the Federal Maritime Commission’s fmc.gov, the Department of Energy’s osti.gov, the International Trade Administration’s trade.gov, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s ipcc-wg2.gov.
Fourteen percent of the websites did not have HTTPS, which is required for agencies by the Office of Management and Budget. Notable websites that lacked HTTPS include the Department of Defense, the International Trade Administration, and the United States Courts.
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Ten percent of websites did not use Domain Name System Security (DNSSEC), which is a set of protocols that add security to the domain name system lookup and exchange process. Notable websites that failed to use these protocols include the House of Representatives, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the U.S. Forest Service.
Twenty-two percent of websites failed to demonstrate appropriate desktop speeds and 64 percent failed to demonstrate appropriate mobile speeds. Websites that failed to pass the test for both desktop and mobile speeds include the General Services Administration, the Federal Trade Commission’s identitytheft.gov, and the National Cancer Institute.
Forty-one percent of the websites were not mobile friendly, including the National Weather Service, the Treasury Department, and the International Trade Administration.
Forty-two percent of the websites failed the accessibility test, including the International Trade Administration, and the Internal Revenue Service.
ITIF said that the Trump administration should launch a series of website modernization “sprints” to fix known problems with the most popular sites, mandate that Federal websites meet page load speed requirements, and require all agencies to monitor and share website analytics.
ITIF also said that OMB should launch a website consolidation initiative, Congress should encourage nonexecutive agencies to adopt Federal government website standards, and the White House and Congress should establish a capital fund for Federal agencies to upgrade their IT.