Bailout Vote Slows House Computer Systems

Posted September 29, 2008 at 1:44pm

As Members voted on the bailout bill Monday, constituents rushed to House Web sites — clogging servers and slowing down access.

Interest in the bill has contributed to a “three- to fourfold increase” in Web traffic, said Jeff Ventura, a spokesman for the Chief Administrative Officer.

“This is unprecedented,” he said. “We haven’t seen this level of traffic in recent memory.”

Once a site loads, visitors shouldn’t have a problem, Ventura said.

But popular sites, like House.gov, for example, are slow and can take multiple tries to access.

According to a CAO press release, “House computer experts are monitoring the situation and are attempting to address the tremendous increase in web traffic to the House’s websites to provide improved access to House Internet services, but expect the delays to last as long as demand remains this high.”

The CAO’s office attributed the Web traffic to interest in the bailout bill and a spike in constituents sending e-mail through Members’ Web forms. The last time the House domain had a similar spike in traffic was when the 9/11 commission released its report, Ventura said.

Telephone traffic is also high, but Ventura said the CAO had no way to monitor the volume of calls. However, he said there haven’t been any reports of a breakdown in telecommunications.