Federal website survey paints a messy picture

NASA leads the count in federal agency public-facing websites with 1,590 sites under its management, according to a new report on federal website operations prepared by a White House task force.

A Dec. 16 report from the “.gov Reform Task Force” provides one of the first in-depth looks into how federal agencies create and maintain their website and what can be done to streamline those efforts. The task force was created as part of the Barack Obama administration’s campaign to cut waste.

The task force found a wide variety of website practices, including some agencies with large numbers of websites, and others with just a few.

Following NASA, other federal departments with large numbers of public websites include Health and Human Services, with 686; Interior, 642; Commerce, 593; and Veterans Affairs, 554, the report said.

The departments reporting the fewest public websites included Justice, 21; Environmental Protection Agency, 16; and Housing and Urban Development, 3.

Overall, most federal agencies have at least 50 public websites, the report said. The departments reporting the fewest public websites included Justice, 21; Environmental Protection Agency, 16; and Housing and Urban Development, 3.

At the same time, agency officials emphasized that the exact number of public websites is not known and the figures provided are estimates.

The task force also found wide disparities in the number of domains reported by federal agencies. Domains are higher-level Internet identifying structures, such as nasa.gov, that can be used to control or host multiple websites.

The Treasury Department has the most Web domains with 160 domains; followed by HHS with 155; Commerce with 145; and General Services Administration with 140.

On the other hand 40 percent of the agencies surveyed reported fewer than 25 domains.

Of the 1,367 federal agency Web domains reported in one survey, 54 percent were active; 28 percent were being used to redirect users; and 18 percent were inactive.

The majority of the Treasury Department’s domains were either redirects (42 percent) or inactive (24 percent). Only 52 of its domains, or 33 percent, were active.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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