FirstGov adds states to its index

FirstGov, the federal government's portal to its Web sites, has officially expanded its search engine to include 16 million Web pages from all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

The site's newly designed search engine can seek documents from 47 million Web pages—including 31 million federal pages—in less than a second and gives the public "a new ability to quickly and easily access" information, according to Stephen Perry, administrator of the General Services Administration. He said adding the 16 million Web pages will help make government more accessible to citizens.

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 that conduct Web searches using spider software program and provide 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 but 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.

One section gives citizens the ability to contact government agencies, state governors and the District of Columbia's mayor with a simple click of a mouse.

"I am sure it's the most efficient search engine of its type in the world," Perry said.

The site links to pages in other languages if a state or federal site has already translated a page. FirstGov hopes to expand into other languages in the future.

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