GovNews forum grows;NASA site gets face lift

The National Science Foundation has revamped its International GovNews project to make it possible for anyone with World Wide Web access to read and post information to more than 200 government newsgroups.

GovNews is a project that through the Internet Usenet broadcast platform creates a two-way mechanism for users to read or discuss timely government news. NSF announced in March the availability of more than 200 government newsgroups that would publish a wide array of federal government information to 200 000 servers across the Internet. These servers then publish the information to millions of individual users.

While Usenet's strength to date has been to deliver important news from government agencies and to provide a forum for discussion its technical features have challenged users. Previously users would have to complete the arduous task of reconfiguring a newsreader or browser to subscribe to the groups.Users can point their browsers to to obtain access to a search mechanism which begins choosing topics to participate in the associated newsgroups.

GovNews newsgroups deliver official agency notices news announcements reports and publications organized by topic directly to users. Information that is now available via GovNews includes General Accounting Office reports federal job listings and training information major federal financial documents news from the Office of Management and Budget and many other items.

The goal of the GovNews project a National Performance Review initiative is to allow agency employees and other citizens to have access to federal government news and to provide feedback to agencies regarding policy and mission. The groups can be organized in several ways: Users can elect only to receive information or they can participate in free-wheeling public discussions regarding the work of a particular agency and other topics.

Agencies can use the newsgroups to garner feedback and comments on proposed rules or policies. Other newsgroups can be restricted for intergovernmental discussions so that employees from various agencies can discuss specific projects or policies.

Face Lift for SpaceLinkNASA has redesigned its massive site that delivers information about its numerous projects and missions so that it is more easily accessible.

SpaceLink made up of 13 000 files is one of the most comprehensive sources of information about NASA and contains material designed to appeal to educators and students. Point your browser to to take a peek at the restructured site.

The site's massive library now includes links to related sites. For example the Hubbell Space Telescope directory listing has links to the Space Telescope Science Institute. The site's new search engine allows users to search not only the SpaceLink library but virtually every other NASA Web server as well. The search option is now available at the bottom of each page. The search engine not only allows for faster more comprehensive searches but also ranks search results and provides for natural language queries.Another new feature is a text-only version designed to allow for increased speed and enhanced compatibility with older technology. The site location strip at the top of the page shows users their path to their present location and allows quick jumps to other locations.

Still intact are the timely and fascinating subjects that have made the page a very popular one at the space agency. Click on "hot topics" to read about the latest weather predictions for next winter which are formulated from ocean measurements taken by orbiting instruments. Recent measurements suggest the weather-disrupting El Nino may be brewing in the Pacific.

Airline Info Takes OffTired of doing painstaking research to find the best airline fare? Point your browser to to access the Transportation Department's air fare report available for the first time on-line.The report which the department now will begin posting every quarter lists by airline the average and lowest one-way fares charged for travel to and from the nation's top 1 000 destinations. These destinations account for 70 percent of total domestic travel.

The first report which is available in Microsoft Word or via an Adobe reader provides data from the third quarter of 1996. DOT also publishes a monthly air travel consumer report that includes information about airline services such as flight delays mishandled baggage and other complaints. This report can be found at the same Web site.


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