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FirstGov -- Opening Up Government


GSA #9703

June 29, 2000
Contact: Eleni Martin (202) 501-1231
eleni.martin@gsa.gov

Washington, DC - Technology is getting better and better and the federal government is using that technology to be more responsive to meeting the needs of its customers--the American taxpayers.

"FirstGov is about open government," said GSA Administrator Dave Barram. "Citizens will have the opportunity to know government better than they've ever known it before. FirstGov raises the bar American citizens will expect more and the federal government will need to deliver more. It will shake up government web sites and will change how people in government work."

The FirstGov government-managed portal will serve as a front door to millions of government web pages, 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week. The FirstGov database will collect all agency-posted pages into an index and provide fast search and retrieval. FirstGov certified partners, who meet the government's conditions, will provide broad and deep navigation by innovative companies.

Today, the FirstGov Board of Directors convened its first meeting to discuss the FirstGov charter. Members of the Board from the President's Management Council (PMC) are: Dave Barram, Administrator, General Services Administration; Mort Downey, Deputy Secretary, Department of Transportation; Bill Halter, Deputy Commissioner, Social Security Administration; Sally Katzen, Counselor to the Director, Office of Management and Budget; Bill Lynn, Undersecretary of Defense (Comptroller), Department of Defense; Robert Mallett, Deputy Secretary, Department of Commerce; Mike McCabe, Acting Deputy Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency; Morley Winograd, Policy Advisor to Vice President Gore, Director, National Partnership for Reinventing Government. Members from the Chief Information Officers Council are: Roger Baker, Department of Commerce, Chair of Security & Privacy Committee; George Molaski, Department of Transportation, Chair of eGovernment Committee; Bill Piatt, GSA, Chair of Interoperability & Emerging Technology Committee.

"Government information on the web is like having many needles in the haystack," said GSA's Associate Administrator for Governmentwide Policy Marty Wagner. "FirstGov gives citizens the magnet to find the needles in the haystack."

The first phase of FirstGov charter will be the creation of the critical database that will be built at no cost to taxpayers through a newly formed foundation created by entrepreneur Eric Brewer.

Brewer's Foundation will build a database containing copies of the full-page text of all government web pages�possibly as many as 100 million pages�that can be searched using the scalable search-engine technology that Brewer co-invented and upon which he co-founded Inktomi. This technology allows Inktomi to search half a billion documents in less than one-quarter of a second. The Foundation will use this technology and will have the ability to handle millions of searches a day. A typical search will provide a list of results that will direct the user to the government web site where the actual page resides. The work of the Foundation will also include development of a user-friendly portal

The second part of the charter of the government's FirstGov team will be to create the FirstGov brand. This brand will be available for use by commercial and non-commercial organizations that agree to abide by a set of "FirstGov Brand" conditions. The FirstGov Board of Directors will manage adherence to these conditions.

By allowing Yahoo, Jeeves, and other portals to have access to FirstGov, people can continue to use familiar portals while benefiting from full text search of all government web pages.