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House Deals With Unprecedented Website Troubles

Jeff Ventura, the communications director for the Chief Administrative Office, has found himself in a metaphorical haze today, trying to explain what’s been going on with the House website.

“I had more interviews today than the man on the moon,” Ventura told Politico.

The site has been flooded with so much traffic spurred by the bailout legislation that it's been mostly inaccessible since yesterday's vote. Ventura said this is the first time the site has essentially gone off-line because of traffic. The only comparison he could draw was when it “slowed” the day the 9/11 Commission report was released.

Ventura was quick to note that, technically speaking, the site did not crash, but rather that it incurred a “major access issue where we had a lot of people trying to get into the door, and too many people trying to access it all at once.”

Much of the problem had to do with the overabundance of constituent messages being sent via the site’s “Write Your Representative” feature. Ventura didn’t have the specific number of messages sent, but said that it was “in the millions.”

The CAO tried to handle this later yesterday by installing an application that would serve as a “digital version of a traffic cop,” preventing too many messages from traversing the server and causing it to crash.

“Thing (problem) was two fold,” Ventura said. “You had the bill itself put on the web by two committees during eleventh hour. Usually, when a bill is going to be voted on, it sits in the public sphere for a while.”

For constituents who want to make sure their messages go through, Ventura is advising them to send them at off-peak hours in the evening or early morning.

He said that this has prompted thinking on whether hardware or software capacities need to be increased in the future.

Other then the website issues, Ventura said he heard of no other technical malfunctions yesterday. He said that email accounts, which are run through a different server, were fine.

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