Firm nabs FirstGov portal pact

A Northern Virginia company was hired Aug. 11 to build the federal government's

official Internet portal, a site on the World Wide Web that is intended

to make it much easier for the public to search for and find information

that the government has posted on the Internet.

GRC International Inc., a systems integrator, will be paid $4.1 million

during two years to build and operate the portal, FirstGov.gov, the General

Services Administration announced. The portal is expected to be ready for

public use in September. That gives GRC and a team of six subcontractors

about a month to develop the portal's graphical interface, hook up its search

engine and establish a Web presence. The companies will also develop a promotional

campaign to advertise the site, said Wayne Jackson, a spokesman for GRC.

The team includes AT&T, Autonomy Corp., Appnet Inc., Mercury Interactive

Corp., Oracle Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. AT&T is GRC's parent.

The team will operate and maintain the portal at least through August 2002.

The portal had been expected to cost up to $20 million to build, but in June,

the White House announced that Eric Brewer, a University of California computer

scientist and founder of the search engine company Inktomi Corp., would

donate his expertise to the project.

On Aug. 10, GSA officials described Brewer's contribution as "a database

index" of all federal government Web sites and Web pages — an estimated

20,000 sites and 100 million pages.

Using Brewer's technology, FirstGov is expected to search a half-billion

documents in less than a quarter of a second. It is to be able to handle

100 million searches daily, GSA officials said.

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