From the folks at NextGov:
Some federal departments have obtained waivers to sidestep a long-standing policy that bars government Web sites from tracking visitor activity on the Internet.
In 2000, the Office of Management and Budget issued a federal policy banning the use of persistent cookies, files that a Web site deposits on a user’s computer to collect information about how the visitor navigates the site to provide more personal interaction. The policy was established to protect personal privacy, but it hinders the government’s ability to provide richer online experiences for the public, say critics of the ban.
They add the ban is outdated and stymies efforts to solicit and respond to what the public wants, noting commercial sites routinely employ cookies to enhance their public outreach. Even civil liberties advocates favor the use of agency cookies as long as they allow visitors to opt-out and do not collect personally identifiable information. White House officials began considering a new cookie framework last summer, but they have not instituted changes yet.
Some Obama administration officials and many open government activists have urged OMB to rewrite the policy so Web managers can tailor agency sites to visitors’ preferences and conduct other traffic analysis that the public now typically expects from private sector sites.