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Grants.gov slows down with (gasp!) 2500 users!

Grants.gov (“your source to FIND and APPLY for federal government grants”) announced on its blog (which is at blogger.com, not a .gov domain, by the way), that it “continues to experience system slowness due to the high volume of users. We have over 2500 users logged-on and over 1200 users conducting searches.”

Imagine! a government site with 2500 users! Imagine the site sagging under the weight of this! Imagine e-gov! Imagine the government not being prepared to deliver! Imagine the irony! ugh…

For more on this, see: Stimulus Applications Could Overwhelm Grants.gov, By Sarah Cohen, Washington Post, March 11, 2009.

To be fair, the folks at grants.gov are trying. According to what Netcraft reports, grants.gov is evidently run by a commercial outfit and has multiple servers and probably has load-balancing run, apparently by Big-IP. According to the Washington Post story, “the Department of Health and Human Services, which runs the portal, recently added more storage space for the system [Huh? How about processing power!?] and is working on other modernization efforts.”

This is not the first time grants.gov has revealed bureaucratic contempt for users; see also: Should Grants.gov Be Abolished? and Grants.gov is Windows-only.

The moral, though, is that .gov needs lots of work and lots of money and lots of smart people if we are to be able to rely on having adequate access to online government information. We all want it and are told that online access is the only alternative etc. etc. But until Congress adequately funds IT, we’ll have problems like this every time people actually want to use .gov sites in even moderate numbers. Remember when Congressional web servers bogged down when lots of people wanted to read the stimulus bill and email their Representatives? (Surprise! Democracy in action, and Congress was not ready for it.) Sigh…

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