GSA turns to industry to study Web users

To better gauge the behavior of visitors to the General Services Administration’s Web site, the agency is turning to an outside company.

The site, USA.gov, has a system for analyzing who comes to the portal and what visitors do when they're there. For instance, it monitors what they search for and how they use the site’s features. It also tracks how they arrived at the site and general demographic information.

Now GSA wants to make sure the data the system gathers is good, according to a new request for proposals posted Aug. 27 on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site.

GSA said it intends to buy the results of research conducted by a company that reviews Web users’ Internet activities. GSA plans to compare and perhaps benchmark the company’s results against what the agency already understands about who visits USA.gov, the RFP states.

The intention of the analysis is to evaluate what top-referring or destination sites relate best to USA.gov, according to the RFP.

“The government plans to gain insight into consumer Internet and digital media behavior that will enable the evaluation of those activities against services provided by the USA.gov and USASearch services,” it states.

GSA must rely on analysis rather than raw data because of regulations governing the collection of personal information.

“Since the government has strict rules regarding the gathering of personal information through the use of persistent cookies placed on visitors’ computers, we cannot track the exact demographic segments visiting the site,” the RFP states.

Moreover, third-party research is GSA’s only tool for accessing data on users’ general Web practices or tendencies.

GSA seeks historical trends in traffic and is also interested in how long — down to the second — a user stays on the USA.gov portal, according to the RFP.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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