99% of State Government Websites Fail At Least One Key Performance Test, New Report Finds

August 27, 2018

WASHINGTON—A detailed review of 400 state government websites finds that 99 percent fail at least one important measure of performance for page-load speed, mobile-friendliness, security, and accessibility. According to a new report released today by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the top-ranked science and technology policy think tank, some states have much better websites than others, but every state has room to improve its websites overall to better serve the public with easy and secure access to e-government services and information.

“Government websites should be fast, secure, mobile-friendly, and accessible to everyone, but many states’ websites are failing to meet industry best practices,” said ITIF Vice President Daniel Castro, lead author of the report. “People expect to be able to go online to pay their taxes or register a business. If state governments have underperforming websites, they are unable to deliver these types of services effectively.”

The report provides a detailed analysis of how 400 U.S. state government websites perform on multiple measures of page-load speed, mobile-friendliness, security, and accessibility. The websites chosen for testing provide some of the most common government services, including for driver’s licenses, taxes, vital records, elections, business registration, fishing and hunting licenses, and traffic violation tickets.

The top 10 states for overall government website scores are Virginia, Idaho, Massachusetts, Georgia, Colorado, Missouri, Michigan, Arizona, Vermont, and California, respectively.

Using publicly available tools to conduct the analysis, the report finds:

  • 77 percent of state government websites passed the test for desktop page-load speed, and 50 percent passed the test for mobile page-load speed;
  • 67 percent passed the mobile-friendliness test;
  • 44 percent passed a security test based on the use of Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS), a standard protocol to encrypt communications between web browsers and websites, and just 4 percent of state websites passed security tests for both HTTPS and Domain Name System Security (DNSSEC), a set of protocols used to verify the IP address associated with a particular domain name is authentic;
  • 59 percent of state websites passed the accessibility standard;
  • Only one state government website passed all the tests—Virginia’s website for hunting and fishing licenses (dgif.virginia.gov/licenses).

The report recommends that state governments significantly improve the web experience they provide to their citizens by:

  • Mandating government websites implement security best practices;
  • Requiring government websites to be mobile friendly;
  • Consolidating websites to create a single face of government;
  • Finding local partners to test accessibility of government websites;
  • Adopting a web analytics program; and
  • Investing more to modernize their websites and make them more citizen-friendly.

“State government websites are among the most widely used on the Internet, but on average they are not the best,” said ITIF Research Assistant Michael McLaughlin, co-author of the report. “States need to work harder and invest more to modernize their websites and ensure that, as technology advances, access to public services improves.”

Read the report.