FirstGov expands to states

FirstGov, the federal government's portal to its Web sites, has officially expanded its search engine to include sites from all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

The site's newly designed search engine can seek documents from 47 million Web pages in less than a second and give the public "a new ability to quickly and easily access" information, said Steve Perry, administrator of the General Services Administration.

He said it would help make government more accessible to its citizens by adding 16 million Web pages from the states.

Perry announced the FirstGov expansion June 26 at the Federation of Government Information Processing Councils Management of Change Conference in New Orleans. The enhanced site was available at 6 a.m. that day, giving Web surfers the choice of searching federal sites, state sites or both.

"Boom — that's how fast the search engine works," Perry said. "Government is now open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year."

It works much like commercial sites such as Google (www.google.com), which conducts a Web search using a spider software program and provides Web links that can be immediately accessed.

Government officials applauded the new feature, saying it would break down the barriers for citizens who want government services and do not know where to get them.

"If citizens want to go to a park, they don't care if it's a state or local park," said Dan Chenok, branch chief for information policy and technology at the Office of Management and Budget.

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