clock menu more-arrow no yes

Tax Refunds, Weather and Space Porn Top Draws for Fed Websites

Government techies offer a peek at which websites are popular.

NASA, ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team

Given how many people have weather apps on their phones, it might seem strange to think that the National Weather Service logged more than 74 million visits last month to its forecast website.

But that’s just one of the weird tidbits unveiled thanks to a new website launched this week by Obama administration techies, who are trying to update the federal government’s less than user-friendly sites and services.

They unveiled analytics.usa.gov to celebrate “Sunshine Week’ in Washington (something of a misnomer for the Obama White House, which hasn’t proven as transparent as promised).

analytics.usa.gov

The federal government’s tech staffers are tracking traffic at about 300 government websites via Google Analytics through a new Digital Analytics Program. To protect consumer privacy, the program anonymizes visitor IP addresses and doesn’t track individuals.

The new site tracks how many people are on federal websites minute-by-minute as well as listing the most popular websites of the hour.

Choosing Google technology to run the system might be obvious since it’s both widely used and was — until recently — the employer of both U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith* and U.S. Digital Services Administrator Mikey Dickerson. The choice could open the Obama administration up to more criticism about its close ties with the search giant.

Not surprisingly, the IRS’s “Where’s my refund?” page tops the list of federal government sites right now because we’re in the middle of tax season. Another IRS site — for tax return transcripts — was also among the most popular.

Weather forecasts were also popular via Weather.gov, the National Weather Service’s highly detailed, if somewhat dated, site. A site at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service site that allows people to check their case status is also popular. The Social Security Administration, USAJobs.gov employment site and National Park Service reservation site are also among the top 10 sites visited daily.

Only one truly fun site made the top 20: NASA’s stuck-in-the-1990s Astronomy Picture of the Day page, which offers a regular dose of amazing space porn for sky watchers (and people looking for new wallpaper for their laptops or phones).

Astronomy Picture of the Day for March 20
Astronomy Picture of the Day for March 20

* Kara Swisher is married to but separated from Megan Smith, chief technology officer for the Obama Administration. See Kara’s ethics statement here.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.