Sunlight has a story about the government’s Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS) website that came online April 18th.
- The Worst Government Website We’ve Ever Seen?, by Tom Lee, Sunlight Foundation Blog (April 19, 2011).
Contracting databases are part of the world of procurement, procurement is heavily influenced by the Defense Department, and DoD has a proud heritage of producing websites so ugly that they make you want to claw out your eyes. So FAPIIS has company. But if this was just a question of aesthetics, we wouldn’t be complaining.
Assuming you’re using one of the few web browsers in which the site works at all (Chrome and Safari users are out of luck), the experience is off-putting from the start, as users are warned that their use of the site may be monitored, surveilled, or otherwise spied upon (you don’t necessarily surrender your right to speak privately to your priest by using the website, though–thanks for clearing that up, guys!). Perhaps this is why their (arguably superfluous) SSL certificate is utterly broken….
Among other things, Tom notes that the site uses “CAPTCHA.”
[T]he use of a captcha to gate government data is outrageous. Government should be making its data more accessible and more machine-readable. Captchas are designed to interfere with automated tools that facilitate malicious acts. But downloading government data is decidedly not a malicious act. Why are we trying to limit machines’ ability to use this data?