NSF hosts federal news forum;historical moments recorded

The National Science Foundation last month launched a project designed to open a new Internet avenue for federal government users and the public.

The International GovNews project (www.govnews.org) lays the groundwork for widespread dissemination of government information and is designed to encourage federal users to discuss government-related topics.

To support GovNews NSF has created a new category on the Internet's Usenet news system specifically tailored for the government.

GovNews which resulted from more than two years of work by more than 400 public- and private-sector volunteers will be distributed to more than 200 000 linked Internet servers throughout the world. The service provides information from publications such as the Federal Register the Commerce Business Daily the Congressional Record White House publications Supreme Court opinions General Accounting Office reports federal employee job openings and agency news.

Copies of documents are not available at the site which simply offers information on how to sign up for the service. By subscribing to the Usenet service users will be sent documents electronically about subjects they choose.

The news service is similar to a broadcast service that retrieves the latest news and instantaneously beams it to news groups said Preston Rich leader of GovNews and executive director of NSF's FinanceNet network which routes and distributes the government news groups on Usenet.

"The news groups are more like a newspaper and the Web is more like a library " Rich said. "For changing documents the best most effective medium for distribution is [Internet] news. You don't have to look all around. All the new changed information is right there available at your doorstep."

While the government has been an active user of the Web for many years only a few government agencies - mostly those with high-end scientific mission-related activities - have exploited news groups because no category had been formed for agency-related news said Carl Hage an independent consultant from Sunnyvale Calif. and a private-sector organizer.

"The federal government is pretty computationally impaired when it comes to Internet access and news access in particular " Hage said. "There's now something worthwhile for people to go to. We hope that will be an incentive for more agencies to install the software and access news."

Point your browser to www.govnews.org/govnews/info/majorpubs.html for a list of major U.S. government publications now being broadcast to the government news groups. To set up GovNews click on "News Administrators' Information" on the home page for an easy-to-understand guide and for answers to frequently asked questions. Click on "How to Participate" for information on accessing GovNews and tips for creating a news group.The GovNews project is being sponsored by the U.S. Chief Financial Officers Council.

Daily History LessonsFor all you history buffs who may start or end a day pondering if the particular date has historical importance point your browser to memory.loc.gov to access a new Web page set up by the Library of Congress called "Today in History."

Click on the present date at the top of the page to find out the historical significance of any particular day. For example on April 2 1865 Gen. Robert E. Lee evacuated the city of Richmond Va. after Confederate losses in Petersburg and Richmond.

Click on "Civil War Photographs 1861-1865" to access historical photographs of the burned and destroyed city of Richmond from the library's special collections. To dig even deeper in the history of the war click on "Timeline" to access events and photos that chronicle the bitter battle between the states.

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