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OPM Web site crushed by high traffic

By Ed O'Keefe

Updated 4:24 p.m. ET
The Office of Personnel Management Web site was redirected for a time on Tuesday to a site with larger servers to cope with a crush of traffic from curious Web surfers eager to learn about the government's operating status.

Users who typed in were redirected to and an OPM status update page there.

"Due to a very high volume of traffic, the other pages are not available now. Please try back later," a message on the page stated. The site was restored later in the day on Tuesday.

The decision about Washington-region office closures posted on that Web page is of high interest to local federal workers, but also impacts those who have business with any shuttered government agencies. Local Federal Executive Boards determine when to close federal facilities in other parts of the country. had more than 6.1 million total page views on Monday between 3:30 p.m. and 9 p.m., according to White House Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra. That's way up from the approximately 151,000 total page views on a normal day, he said in an e-mail.

Several Federal Eye readers complained on Monday afternoon that the OPM site was inaccessible for several hours. To alleviate the crush of traffic, the Office of Management and Budget redirected the site to an OPM page at, the government's new home for open government efforts. operates on more robust servers.

"OPM is planning to upgrade its infrastructure to support increased traffic," Kundra said in an e-mail. "They will leverage the platform throughout this weather period (this week) and will continue to work with GSA to ensure continuity of service."

The switch was noticed by several Twitter users, who first spotted Tuesday's official operating status at

By the way -- shameless plug alert -- you can avoid entirely and check The Federal Eye later today for updates on whether the government will pull a threefer and close again on Wednesday.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Ed O'Keefe  | February 9, 2010; 1:21 PM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments, Workplace Issues  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Postal Service plans normal Tuesday service
Next: New GSA administrator answers the call -- literally


151,000 is a useless statistic. How many visit during the typical snowstorm? A website that exists to inform millions of people of government operating status should by definition be able to handle millions of visits.

Posted by: member8 | February 9, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I found it ironic that in John Berry's attempt to encourage teleworking opportunities for more federal employees, their website couldn't keep up with the demand. There are other reasons to access the OPM website: I'm a federal HR Specialist, and there were some other parts of the OPM website that I was trying to access yesterday. Also, better utilization of social networking sites helps to get the word out quickly, although Mr. Berry seemed reluctant to grasp these new technologies per his conversation with Federal News Radio yesterday afternoon.

Posted by: mnwillett1 | February 9, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

What the? Why isn't the figure included in this story about how much it costs when federal employees dont have work?

You feeling ok, Ed?

Posted by: Bious | February 9, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Here we go again... Ran to the store today - only got out of the neighborhood since I have all-wheel drive - the main roads were marginal with only light traffic - had to stop multiple times waiting for folks in small front wheel drive cars to get "unstuck" - it would definitely not have been fun with "regular rush hour" volume. Have been able to do some work remotely for past couple of days, but servers are slow and connection 'drops' periodically. Expect that I will have to do so again tomorrow, based on the Weather Channel. In light of the challenges OPM is having, I guess I just wait for the announcement on the evening news later tonight rather than try to reach their website.

Posted by: traveler11 | February 9, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Being from Western Michigan but having lived here since 03, have never seen an area in such a panic with yes a major and dangerous snowfall. Re OPM they do have a federal am radio station that provides the OPM work decision usually around 1800 hours when needed or just wait for OPM to be available for updates. Nevertheless, having had a 4 wheeler in MI where it was used daily in the wintertime, there are days when even such a vehicle should not be on the road - as most stations, police, etc requested during most of the storms early moment - 4 wheelers in this area seem to drive as though this makes the driver able to go anywhere until they are stuck. Then they either block traffic or are in accident requiring others to put their lives at risk. Use common sense people!

Posted by: davidmswyahoocom | February 9, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Just a thought...

Why doesn't the Federal Government give the millions of dollars it costs to have workers stay home - give that money to the affected States and the District to buy the necessary equipment to get us out of this mess.

Posted by: DDLDSMITH | February 9, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

How pointless. The webserving industry has a known solution to the recurring problem of a site being "slashdotted"...

a) Take ALL the graphics and trash off the page.

b) Replace that with a simple text page with your announcement, bet it "OPM announces closure" "Yes, the government is working" or " A closing decision is pending" The less text the better. One sentence is all that is needed.

c) Then have a link to the old home page at the bottom.

Virtually all the visitors will want the announcement, period. They'll get want they want in fewer bytes and be gone.

I wonder how OPM could buy some clue; Vanna White, perhaps?

Posted by: j_oper | February 9, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Seriously? This was happening Sunday and Monday...

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | February 9, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

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