Treasury's site gets traffic boost

The Treasury Department has seen visits to its Web site, at www.treas.gov, more than double, from about 800,000 a week to more than 2 million a week over the past year.

IT services and operations program manager Joan Arnold credited the jump to a streamlined design with two-click information access and video webcasts. Visitors can now subscribe to personalized push information.

The department had been considering a makeover for some time.

'Technology is moving so quickly,' Arnold said. 'As soon as you implement one thing, you're out of date. We wanted to offer more powerful search capability than was available on the old site. And we wanted more continuity and ease of use.'

The redesign by Qwest Communications International Inc. of Denver took three months. Qwest has hosted the Treasury site at one of its data centers for about 18 months and also has done design for the IRS and Mint sites.

The hosting and design services are available under the Federal Technology Service's FTS 2001 contracts.

'Everyone's issue is always the same'ease of use,' said James F.X. Payne, Qwest senior vice president of government markets.

Treasury's site draws users from law enforcement, the financial services industry and Wall Street as well as the general public. It carries everything from interest rate statistics to announcements of auctions of goods seized by the IRS.

A recent one was for seven tons of books, magazines and comic books, and another was for a collection of impressionist and modern paintings.

'One of the key things we wanted to do was carry Treasury events live,' Arnold said.

Webcasts are archived for three-month periods. ConnectLive Communication Inc. of Washington provides the live transmission and archival services.

Bandwidth backups

The most common technical challenge in site design and hosting is unpredictable traffic, Payne said.

A site owner and host must either provision bandwidth for maximum demand or risk inaccessibility at times. The Qwest data center uses a 10-Gbps Synchronous Optical Network OC-192 backbone.

Although Treasury's public affairs office sponsored the update, strong involvement by senior staff was necessary to move things along, Arnold said.

Future plans call for transaction processing services that would let banks report blocked assets online, as well as a formal evaluation of user satisfaction.

The survey will use the American Customer Satisfaction Index, developed by the National Quality Research Center at the University of Michigan.

About the Author

William Jackson is freelance writer and the author of the CyberEye blog.

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