Most federal websites fail metrics related to load time and secure connections, according to a think tank assessment.
About 91 percent of federal websites failed a tech-focused think tank assessment incorporating speed, accessibility and security, and more of them failed a load-time test, compared to last year.
The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation analyzed almost 500 federal websites and benchmarked them against its analysis from last year, which looked at 300 sites. The sites showed a minimal improvement in mobile friendliness from last year but dipped in security and load-time assessments. More than 90 percent failed the assessment on at least one metric.
ITIF recommended the Trump administration start a “website modernization sprint” to address shortfalls in speed, security and mobile accessibility, and also to require that federal websites meet minimum page-load speeds, among other steps.
About 63 percent of federal websites passed a test for desktop-load speed using a Google “PageSpeed” tool assigning a score for load time—a drop from 73 percent last year. Only 27 percent of federal sites passed the assessment for load-speed on mobile devices, compared to 36 percent last year. PageSpeed scores below a 54 were considered failures.
About 61 percent of federal websites were considered mobile-friendly per search engine SEO Centro’s “Mobile Friendly Check” assessment, up slightly from 59 percent last year. The ones that failed often had links and buttons that were too small to access on mobile devices.
A greater percentage of sites adhered to security protocols this year than last, according to ITIF’s assessment. More than 70 percent passed an assessment for Secure Sockets Layer certificates, associated with Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure standards, which encrypts a user’s connection to a site so that intruders don’t have access to passwords. That’s up from about 67 percent last year.
Domain Name System, or DNS, security saw a slight drop, however. DNS is the global system that ensures websites and computers are who they say they are. When there are vulnerabilities in the system that makes it easier for hackers to redirect people to phony and malevolent sites.
About 88 percent of federal sites had enabled protocols that protect the domain name system lookup process, compared to 90 percent last year. Overall, 64 percent of sites passed both tests this year, compared to 61 percent last year.
According to SEO Centro’s mobile assessment, the sites most accessible on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets included noaa.gov, bls.gov, and usa.gov while ready.gov and broadbandmap.gov scored the lowest.
Overall, Vote.gov, Nist.gov, and Fbi.gov performed best in ITIF’s assessment. The lowest performers included pmi.gov (a site for the President’s Malaria Initiative), lanl.gov and federalreserve.gov.