Todd Park

The 4 most popular .gov websites aren’t mobile friendly

Top 5 .gov websites

Source: analytics.usa.gov

Despite a digital strategy issued by the White House two years ago calling for more mobile-friendly citizen services, the top four most-visited federal government websites over the past 30 days fail this test according to new analytics numbers released by the General Services Administration.

The new analytics.usa.gov dashboard launched last Thursday, culls data from 300 (of “approximately” 1,350) executive branch domains, highlights the most-visited websites and breaks down visitor numbers by devices, browsers and operating systems.

The top four trafficked websites over the past 30 days are irs.gov, weather.gov, usajobs.gov and nps.gov.

None of these websites, however, adhere to responsive web design standards, a development approach that allows for websites to easily adapt to a user’s device, be it phone, tablet or desktop, and provide an appropriate, enjoyable user experience.

According to the analytics, 25 percent of visitors to .gov websites are using mobile devices. Including tablet users, more than a third of citizens are getting a less-than-optimal user experience while visiting these sites.

Those top four domains alone have received nearly 200 million visits over the past 30 days.

One notable omission to the data is healthcare.gov, which does meet mobile standards, but is not included in the analytics numbers.

“Our services must work well on all devices,” says a post on the White House website announcing the analytics dashboard.

“Over the past 90 days, 33% all traffic to our sites came from people using phones and tablets. Over the same period last year, the number was 24%. Most of this growth came from an increase in mobile traffic. Every year, building digital services that work well on small screens becomes more important.”

Per a May 2013 federal digital strategy published by the White House, “Digital Government: Building a 21st Century Platform to Better Serve the American People,” agencies should enable “the American people and an increasingly mobile workforce to access high-quality digital government information and services anywhere, anytime, on any device.”

“We are also optimizing Federal websites for mobile devices and creating mobile apps to ensure government services are available to citizens anywhere, anytime and on any device,” wrote former U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park and former Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel announcing the strategy in 2013.

According to its “Minimum Computer Requirements for Free File Fillable Forms” page, irs.gov doesn’t support the Safari web browser, which drives 20 percent of all visitor traffic to .gov domains and is the default browser for iPhone and iPad users.

The analytics tool was built by 18F, GSA’s Digital Analytics Program and the new U.S. Digital Service.

Obama’s IT ‘trauma team’ and recruiting Silicon Valley

Photo: U.S. Health & Human Services

Photo: U.S. Health & Human Services

Steven Brill has a great in-depth, behind-the-scenes write-up on the HealthCare.gov IT aftermath and the team that helped steer the project to success.

Brill’s “Obama’s Trauma Team” features U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park, Obama fix-it man Jeff Zients, presidential innovation fellows, venture capitalist John Doerr, members of Obama’s campaign tech team and some of Silicon Valley’s brightest entrepreneurs.

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The politics of physics (and healthcare.gov)

Photo: U.S. Health & Human Services

Photo: U.S. Health & Human Services

Since last October the U.S. media, in full orgasmic throng, has been barking madly over the fate of the Healthcare.gov rollout. There has been overwhelming and obdurate polarization around positions on issues that would, in other arenas, be viewed through the objective lens of what most agree are facts.

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Darrell Issa may have just lost the open government vote

Todd Park (Photo: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Chris Smith)

Todd Park (Photo: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Chris Smith)

With a single subpoena to one of the most admired public servants in America, Congressman Darrell Issa has managed to rankle the ire of open government leaders and alienate a key constituency in a movement he co-founded his own organization around.

The subpoena is in response to the White House’s refusal to allow U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park to testify before the House Oversight Committee related to technical issues that continue to plague a reliable launch of healthcare.gov.

A group of Park supporters have rallied behind him and created a website, “Let Todd Work,” where citizens can pledge their support.

“Mr. Park is a fantastic civil servant, who cares about making government more effective and accountable, just like Mr. Issa,” states the petition. “We hope that they can work together on solving the policies that enabled healthcare.gov to fail in the first place, by working with the Senate for passage of Issa’s own bill, the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act.”

FITARA is Issa’s bill to reform federal technology management and procurement, an issue many see as the fundamental breakdown to the healthcare.gov implementation and a general symptom of the government’s inability to deliver IT projects on time and on budget.

“If the people in government technology were made up of characters in the marvel universe, Todd Park would most assuredly be Captain America — someone who selflessly serves, has a strong moral compass, and has an uncanny ability to always be optimistic and see the best in everyone,” writes Former White House Presidential Innovation Fellow Clay Johnson on Google+. Johnson is one of the supporters leading the petition effort.

Issa’s own open government organization, OpenGov Foundation, that he co-founded and serves as chairman, is focused on solving many of the same issues Park has become a key champion for, including open, accessible public data.

“Information and technology are disruptive,” the organization states on its website. “But data-driven disruption is what will ultimately break down the barriers of closed, inaccessible, unaccountable government … We’ll bring the sledgehammers.”

Given the open government community’s focus on collaboration over political conflict, it will be interesting to see how the fallout will impact long-term sentiments towards his own organization’s efforts.

It appears many think Issa should focus his energy, and hammer, on an issue beyond Park’s superpowers.

Letter to U.S. CTO Todd Park from Congressman Darrell Issa