GSA closing in on WebGov portal

With the backing of the President's Management Council, the General Services

Administration plans to have a single portal for government interaction

with the public up and running by this fall.

President Clinton, in his December "e-government" memo, put his weight behind

the idea of a single World Wide Web interface that will allow citizens to

look for federal information by topic rather than by agency. This is what

the WebGov project will provide.

But although WebGov has been going for about two years, it has been held

back by various funding and technical issues, such as the challenge of gathering

together links to every agency Web site.

But now the council has said it support WebGov with several million dollars

through a "pass-the-hat" method or some other means, said Marty Wagner,

associate administrator of the GSA Office of Governmentwide Policy, Thursday

at the GSA Trail Boss Roundup in Williamsburg, VA.

"The President's Management Council is committed to WebGov; to make it work,"

Wagner said. "They want to move to get something operational this fall."

One of first major problems is that of the 100 million federal Web pages,

most do not show up on commercial or federal search engines and do not have

the meta tags necessary to tell search engines what information is on those

pages.

So GSA will be working with every federal agency — through the chief information

officers, Webmasters and program heads — to develop a standard method of

creating meta tags, and bringing all of that information into a single database

that will allow for searches across agencies.

GSA is moving to pull together the technical and logistical pieces and will

soon issue a task order to get private sector in to help.

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