Compared to other federal websites, uscourts.gov leaves a lot to be desired

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) has released its second benchmarking review of U.S. government websites, and the main portal for the federal court system, uscourts.gov, performed very poorly in many of the benchmarking criteria.

The study considered four major performance categories: page-load speed, mobile friendliness, security, and accessibility. The uscourts.gov website scored a respectable (although hardly dazzling) 74/100 on desktop download speed and 68/100 on mobile download speed. But that was the only good news.

As to mobile friendliness, the site declined significantly from the time of the prior ITIF report, from a previous score of 99 to a score of 70 this year.  And website security for uscourts.gov was even worse. The court system was one of only a small handful of federal government bodies not to implement security measures–including the commonplace HTTPS protocol–to transmit sensitive information on its main site.

The composite score for uscourts.gov was a paltry 52.8 out of a perfect 100.  By contrast, other federal websites with legal dimensions, like fbi.gov, justice.gov, and uspto.gov, all achieved a composite score above 80.

If it seems that I criticize the federal courts for their technological blunders too frequently on this blog, it’s because I know the system can do better. Most of the fixes described above can be achieved without too much difficulty. But it seems that the federal courts as a whole have been slow to embrace even straightforward and commonplace technological advances, whether broadcasting courtroom proceedings, making documents easily available online, or securing their own website. The federal court system is the crown jewel of the greatest legal system on earth. Time to start acting like it.

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