Nonprofits get one-stop shop for federal info

Vice President Al Gore this month unveiled the U.S. NonProfit Gateway Web network which is the administration's latest Internet project to deliver federal information to citizens.

With a few minor exceptions the NonProfit Gateway is a well-organized guide to the sometimes-buried-but-almost-always-valuable resources that the government develops for nonprofit groups.

The NonProfit Gateway (www.nonprofit.gov) offers users the choice to link to customized nonprofit gateways designed by 15 federal agencies. Perhaps taking a cue from the thrifty audience they are targeting most agency gateway designers decided to forego the glitz that many Web sites have incorporated. While the gateway designed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development presents a colorful graphics-intensive page most of the others are simple text-laden creations.

Most of the 15 agencies have plucked information from their databases that would pertain specifically to nonprofit groups - such as community development projects and research and development opportunities - and arranged them to appeal to specific user searches.

But some agencies have not developed their own gateways. The Energy Department for example links users from the NonProfit Gateway home page to its general news page which contains news tidbits such as the secretary's biography and speeches.

Overall though most of the agency links have been carefully crafted to include data that would be pertinent and helpful to nonprofit entities.

For example the Environmental Protection Agency allows people to access maps that display air-pollution levels and charts that note Superfund clean-up decisions and releases of more than 650 toxic chemicals by various companies.

Users in search of more general information about nonprofit groups should scroll down and browse the gateway's directory of the federal government. This section provides custom-tailored links to the executive legislative and judicial branches.

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