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FDA, USDA websites work well, rank high among federal sites

The top two federal food safety agencies made the Top 20 for specific benchmarks measured by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), which compared almost 500 of Uncle Sam’s most popular websites.

ITIF is a nonprofit policy think tank populated by former U.S. senators and representatives from both political parties. Its purpose is to focus on public policy to spur technological innovations.

The ITIF report comes six months after the organization first reviewed 297 federal websites. It has now analyzed 469 of the government’s most trafficked sites.

More than 4,500 federal websites exist on more than 400 domains. ITIF’s benchmarking so far found 91 percent of those subjected to analysis failed on at least one of the important metrics. ITIF says federal government sites are “not as fast, mobile friendly, secure or accessible” as they should be.

The rankings measure website performance for page-load speed, mobile friendliness, security, and accessibility. A voter registration portal called vote.gov is No. 1 in the ITIF rankings with a score of 95.5.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website, fda.gov, ranks 15th with an 83.7 score. And usda.gov comes in at No. 18 with a score of 83. 3. The U.S. Department of Agriculture website includes the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

Like the White House, Justice Department, FBI, and Bureau of Prisons, the websites for FDA and USDA are in the top rankings and are among the top 1,000 most heavily trafficked sites.

ITIF, founded by Canadian-American economist Robert David Atkinson, says federal government websites “still require significant improvement. The report recommends: the federal government go on a “website modernization sprint” to fix known problems; require federal sites meet specific desktop and mobile page-load speeds; launch a website consolidation initiative; make reporting of website analytics mandatory; and encourage judicial and legislative branches of the government to adopt standards and practices.

Finally, the ITIF says there should be a federal chief information officer to lead the modernization efforts.

In the first benchmarking report, the outside reviewers found federal sites “generally scored high on security.” It again looked at common security features used for encrypted Internet communications and secured domain names.

“Federal agencies should prioritize building and maintaining fast, convenient, secure and accessible websites,” the report says. “Doing so will help ensure that the many Americans who routinely use the internet to access government services and information can continue to do so.”

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