Overhaul of blue pages to help users

The General Services Administration is moving closer to updating government listings in all local telephone books around the country in an effort that should make populating the X.500 governmentwide directory blue pages faster and easier.

The goal of the blue pages project is to provide a more user-friendly listing of government numbers so that the public can look for Medicare under the letter "M" instead of under Health and Human Services.

"The low-tech puzzle that must be solved before reaching the high-tech government is the blue pages " said Greg Woods of the National Performance Review. "[More than] 6 000 telephone books are published in the country. When this project is completed [more than] 200 million Americans will receive reinvented phone books."

GSA said it has updated phone directories in 10 cities around the country with another eight or so in progress. GSA is working with 24 other federal agencies and phone companies including Sprint and Ameritech on the project. The project won a Hammer award last month.

Some revised directories include the addition of toll-free numbers World Wide Web addresses fax numbers and electronic mail addresses. The blue pages of the future will have this data along with agency logos and graphics and will organize government services around functional areas.

David Barram acting administrator of GSA said the agency was selected to lead the initiative because "with our work with our Federal Telecommunications Service and our work in governmentwide electronic messaging...we had the expertise and tools to begin the project and build this team."

It is expected that this cooperative work eventually will lead to a fully automatic process.

The government currently provides updated information to phone companies on disk and the information must be re-keyed.

When phone companies agree on a standardized format for page layout which is what they are talking about doing then GSA could electronically send a camera-ready copy of the data to be published said Ron Piasecki assistant commissioner of FTS' Office of Network Applications.

This work also will support the efforts of GSA's Center for Electronic Messaging Technologies to build a governmentwide X.500 directory that will provide among other things electronic blue page listings.The blue pages project "is an additional listing to go into the X.500 directory " said Doyle Dodge senior adviser in the Office of Network Applications. "This way [development] of the X.500 directory will go faster."

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