How does your agency's website rate?

Response time for the top 40 government websites ranges from well under a second for the Drug Enforcement Administration to more than four seconds for the U.S. Mint, according to a recent ranking by Keynote Systems, which does online performance indexing for commercial and public-sector websites.

That is really not much of a spread, said Keynote’s marketing manager Aaron Rudger. “We don’t see a lot of difference between the fastest and the slowest,” in the government sites, Rudger said. In the global business top 40, slowest response times can be can be more than five seconds.

Still, four seconds pretty slow. Studies have shown that 40 percent users will abandon a page if it takes more than three seconds to load. Just four .gov websites fell below the three-second threshold for response time.

Keynote benchmarks the performance of home pages weekly from 10 major U.S. metro areas over large ISP backbones, measuring six parameters: response time, success rate, outage hours, time to first paint or response, time to achieve an interactive page, and total user experience time. A number of factors can influence response time, including the volume and complexity of the content, or the page weight. Proximity can also be a factor, although variances are mitigated by averaging times from around the country, from Boston to Los Angeles. Third-party content incorporated in a page can also effect response time.

Another key metric is success rate. Six agencies rated 100 percent, and all but four were at 99 percent or better. But the Energy Department site came in with just 95.01 percent. Not bad, Rudger said, but not good.

Rank Agency Response time
1 DEA 0.11
2 Supreme Court 0.56
3 US Senate 0.57
4 SEC 0.77
5 FDA 0.78
6 FAA 0.85
7 OSHA 0.94
8 FirstGov 1.02
9 Government Printing Office 1.03
10 USPS 1.11
11 IRS 1.15
12 Bureau of Labor Stats 1.16
13 US House of Representatives 1.18
14 Justice Department 1.27
15 State Department 1.34
16 Transportation Department 1.37
17 FDIC 1.38
18 Centers for Medicare/Medicaid 1.47
19 Homeland Security Department 1.49
20 National Weather Service 1.53
21 CDC 1.54
22 Agriculture Department 1.57
22 National Park Service 1.57
24 FBI 1.59
25 Defense Department 1.72
26 Energy Department 1.73
27 Patent and Trademark Office 1.74
28 FTC 1.77
29 EPA 1.91
30 FEMA 2.06
31 U.S. Air Force 2.14
31 National Institutes of Health 2.14
33 U.S. Marines 2.45
33 White House 2.45
35 Library of Congress 2.8
36 Housing and Urban Development Department 2.86
37 Education Department 3.17
38 Veterans Affairs Department 3.39
39 NASA 3.88
40 US Mint 4.59

Source: Keynote Systems

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.


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