FirstGov portal fine-tuned
- By William Matthews
- Sep 12, 2000
The governmentwide Web portal, FirstGov, is being tested and fine-tuned
this week in preparation for public use later this month, according to the
General Services Administration.
Major development work was finished and software for the portal was delivered
to GSA Sept. 8, said Bill Piatt, chief information officer of GSA, the agency
overseeing FirstGov's development.
President Clinton is expected to officially launch the site, promising June
24 that it would be ready for operation in 90 days or less. At the time,
Clinton called FirstGov the "single point of entry to one of the largest — perhaps the most useful — collection of Web pages in the entire world."
The portal is designed to make it easier to find the information the federal
government has posted on the World Wide Web. That capabilitiy, Piatt and
other senior government officials said, will be a key step toward offering
more government services online.
FirstGov's central feature is a powerful search engine linked to an index
of all government Web pages. Besides making information easier to find,
the portal will direct users to government agencies that offer services
online, such as electronic application forms for loans and benefits, Piatt
said. In that way, FirstGov should increase the use of online services and
encourage agencies to develop more, he said.
Even as final testing of FirstGov got under way, the Web site's designers
were planning improvements, Piatt said. A second, more advanced version
of the portal is being prepared for release in mid or late December, he
said, and a third version is planned for March.
GSA will rely heavily on the public's suggestions to improve the portal's
usefulness, and "until people start using it, they won't know what they
want," he said.