Government website platform stands up under COVID-19 pressure

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GovCMS, the government website hosting and content management system, saw record numbers of visits on the platform at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic as Australians accessed critical online information to protect their health and safety.

The GovCMS team were able to maintain the stability and resilience of the service. The platform automatically scaled up during huge spikes in traffic, and handled an unprecedented volume of visitors to websites.

At the peak of the pandemic, the GovCMS platform experienced:

  • 100,000 page views per minute
  • 187,000 concurrent users on the platform
  • 2 billion hits in a month. experienced a 760 per cent increase in traffic with up to six million visits a day, and experienced a 650 per cent increase in traffic. Many other sites on the platform also experienced very large increases in visits such as Smart Traveller, Safe Work Australia, The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services and the South Australian Department of Education.

‘The GovCMS team ensured our website was always available and able to supply information to the public during the pandemic,’ said Susie Smith, General Manager, Services Australia.

‘We worked closely with the GovCMS team to increase our database capacity to ensure the Services Australia website could manage heavy traffic. In a very tight timeframe, and under significant pressure, they seamlessly executed a database upscale with no downtime. This greatly improved the performance of the website. This supported real people and their ability to care for themselves and their families.’

The Department of Health were also happy with how their website performed during the pandemic.

‘We typically saw up to 20,000 concurrent users on the Department of Health website. Even under immense traffic, page load time remained under 2.7 seconds,’ said Danni Marlow, Technical Product Owner.

‘GovCMS’ robust tooling allowed us to seamlessly deploy developments at any time of the day, including during peak times. This allowed us to remain responsive to changing needs.’

‘We usually deploy IT updates during periods of low traffic which we couldn’t do during the pandemic. We ended up deploying updates whenever we needed to and it was seamless meaning customers could always access the most up-to-date information.’

During the pandemic, the GovCMS community was able to form surge teams to support agencies publishing of COVID-19 information and stood ready to provide cover should an agency publishing team be impacted personally by the virus.

‘We worked closely with agencies on the front line to ensure publishing activities and announcements likely to cause large spikes in traffic could be delivered without affecting the platform. We had website engineers standing by to ensure the platform remained stable. These are unprecedented times, the volumes certainly tested us, but ultimately proved the strength and capability of GovCMS. I’m delighted with the reliability and support we’ve been able to provide agencies, it ensured Australians were able to access information to keep themselves safe’ said Sharyn Clarkson, GovCMS Founder and Assistant Secretary of Online Services at the Department of Finance.

GovCMS has been one of the quiet achievers in government IT. Prior to its establishment in 2015, Commonwealth agencies in Canberra were using more than 350 different versions of content management tools, making it difficult for teams to work together across government.

GovCMS was founded on a principle of ‘create once and share with everyone’. Today, agencies share expertise and people, collaborate to deliver shared features, and solve common problems as a community. 

Security accreditation, procurement and website defences are offered centrally reducing duplication of effort and there is economy of scale that is providing savings to government. By choice the service is not mandated, GovCMS prefers to provide a great service that attracts agencies to join.

GovCMS currently hosts 327 websites for 96 agencies across all tiers of government. To find out more about the benefits of GovCMS visit

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