Web's an indispensable but flawed work tool

Survey



The GCN Reader Survey is intended to provide data on trends and product preferences. This survey on Internet use is based on a telephone survey of 100 federal readers who on their subscription forms identified themselves as Internet users.

Using the Internet is as routine in a fed's workday as getting a cup of coffee.

Nearly three-quarters of government managers in a GCN telephone survey use the Web at least five times a day, and 51 percent hit the Web 10 or more times a day to perform a task.

Half of those surveyed said they spend up to three hours a day on the Web on work-related matters, and 21 percent are logged on for more than three hours on official business.

Government managers are especially keen on the Web as a vast and growing source of information, the survey found. Some 91 percent said they use the Internet primarily for research and reference.

In fact, there's now so much data on the Internet that it's getting difficult to sort through it all and find what you're looking for, groused a network manager at the Bureau of Reclamation in Idaho.

Survey participants also said they use the Web as a news resource (69 percent), for gathering product information (59 percent), and for education and training (40 percent).

They also cruise the Internet for personal needs (40 percent) and, to a lesser extent, entertainment and fun (33 percent).

Several managers we talked with noted that gratuitous use of the Web for personal business is a problem in government offices.

There's a constant 'temptation to use it at work,' said an IRS computer specialist in West Virginia.

Nearly all'96 percent'of managers polled said their agencies have policies on employee use of the Internet, and 80 percent said their agencies use software to keep tabs on Internet use.

The biggest gripe about the Internet? Even in these days of ever-faster connections and processors, it still takes too long for pages to load, said 49 percent of respondents.

Nearly half'46 percent'complained about excessive advertising and sites that automatically launch ad pages.

Links that don't work or time out was the biggest peeve for a state of Georgia systems manager in Atlanta; 25 percent of those surveyed agreed with him.

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