Fewer people are using federal government websites to get information than last year, according to an Aug. 22 report released by Booz Allen Hamilton. Methods such as mail and email, however, have increased by double digits.

The report found that 70 percent of users visited federal government websites to find information, a decrease of 8 percent from last year. Meanwhile, 38 percent of respondents said that they obtain government information via mail, up from 24 percent last year. Thirty-three percent said they use email to obtain government info, up from 21 percent.

Meanwhile, 61 percent of survey respondents said that using federal websites to find information is “more of a hassle” than dealing with a non-government entity.

Government websites lagged behind respondents’ views of commercial websites in the consulting firm’s comparison of the two. Almost 60 percent of respondents said that .gov websites should function more like .com sites. Fifty-eight percent of users said that it “takes longer to accomplish tasks" on .com websites.

Federal government websites lagged behind commercial websites by 21 points in the “ease of finding information” category, 82-61 percent. The results were similar for ease of navigation, 84-65 percent.

Interestingly, the federal government’s websites outperformed commercial sites in the security categories, with users agreeing that federal sites are generally more secure, as well as better at securing personal information than commercial sites.

Despite the lower marks outside of security measures, 61 percent of respondents are optimistic that .gov sites are improving overall digital experience. Booz Allen Hamilton suggested five actions the government can take to improve users online experience:

  1. Make it easier to find information;
  2. Make it easier to complete all needs online;
  3. Improve the ease of navigation;
  4. Make support available if needed; and
  5. Add functionality to submit and fill out forms.

Booz Allen Hamilton conducted its survey of 1,000 adults Jan. 2-7, 2019.

Andrew Eversden covers all things defense technology for C4ISRNET. He previously reported on federal IT and cybersecurity for Federal Times and Fifth Domain, and worked as a congressional reporting fellow for the Texas Tribune. He was also a Washington intern for the Durango Herald. Andrew is a graduate of American University.

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