Looking to localize FirstGov info
- By Greg Langlois
- Nov 14, 2000
When the governmentwide Internet portal FirstGov was launched, it was billed
as a first step in transforming the relationship between the public and
the federal government. Now, an interagency group is looking for ways to
take a second step.
The Federal Geographic Data Committee issued a request for information
this week seeking ideas on how to localize FirstGov information.
"FirstGov is evolving into a site that citizens can easily use to rapidly
find, get and use government information and services tailored to their
needs," FGDC officials wrote in their request. "But at this early stage
in its development, FirstGov cannot yet offer...information and services
by location, a capability that will truly improve government accountability
FirstGov, which debuted in September, provides links to listed topics
and a search engine that can comb through tens of millions of federal Web
To search for local FirstGov information, visitors might need to type
in their states and counties, said Douglas Nebert, geospacial data clearinghouse
coordinator for the FGDC's secretariat staff. This would help users narrow
their search to find the appropriate address for filing their tax returns,
for example, or to learn about Agriculture Department grants available in
their areas, he said.
"We're looking for innovative ideas" from the vendor community, Nebert
said. "We're trying to look for what people think are cutting-edge ideas."
FirstGov is federally oriented, but Nebert said state and local government
resources eventually might be offered as part of a "virtual town square"
vision proposed by the National Partnership for Reinventing Government.
The FGDC, composed of representatives from 17 federal agencies, works
to promote the use of geospacial data.
Initial responses to the RFI are due by Nov. 22, and a second submission
period will be open until Jan. 21, 2001.