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White House Launches Website Analytics Dashboard

A new analytics dashboard allows citizens a window into 300-plus federal agency websites.

On Thursday, March 19, the White House unveiled its first analytics dashboard -- where visitors can access real-time traffic updates for more than 300 executive branch domains.

The dashboard, fueled by a joint Google Analytics account for U.S. federal agencies called the Digital Analytics Program, illustrates the running tallies in percentages and bar graphs. Quantities are posted in seven and 30-day increments, while data refreshes every minute for real-time statistics — such as the sites' current online visitors.

The platform’s code can be found on Github and was built by three federal agencies: 18F, a digital contracting team; the U.S. Digital Services, that consults on technical issues; and the GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies.

“For the first time you can see how many people are using a federal government website, which pages are most popular, and which devices, browsers, and operating systems people are using,” wrote the dashboard’s builders in a joint White House blog.

They added that all personal information is anonymized, and the platform doesn’t track citizens through their IP addresses.

At present, the site’s statistics show the IRS dominating the 30-day visitor count with nearly 82.3 million hits — a likely indication of the U.S. tax season. Not far behind is the National Weather Service, which holds second and third positions -- nearly 100 million visitors are split between at 75.6 million, and at about 22.2 million. USA Jobs and the National Park Service round out the top five at 17.7 and 11.3 million visits, respectively.

In total, users generated more than 1.3 billion visits to federal websites during the past 90 days, much of which came from mobile devices -- the site reported 33 percent of traffic generated from smartphone and tablet use, up from 24 percent in the same period in 2014.

“This analytics dashboard is just a first step,” the site’s builders said . “Over the coming months, we will encourage more sites to join the Digital Analytics Program, and we’ll include more information and insights about traffic to government sites with the same open source development process we used to create the Dashboard.”

For greater depth into the methodology behind the site, 18F has posted an article detailing its endeavors.

Jason Shueh is a former staff writer for Government Technology magazine.