Creating a Web directory

In addition to calling on agencies to improve their Web sites, the E-Government Act of 2002 also requires the government to create a federal Web directory.

That directory will include a taxonomy — a content categorization standard that will enable users to search for information based on subject rather than on the agency that possesses it.

"We don't really have good ways of sharing information now. We don't have common terminology. We are setting things in motion to begin to do these things," said Kurt Molholm, administrator of the Defense Technical Information Center, the Pentagon's central repository for scientific and technical information.

While the Pentagon has been working to improve its inventory of Web sites, no one really knows how many Defense Department sites there are or what kind of terminology to use when designing sites, Molholm said.

"A lot of organizations don't have the taxonomy," he said. "And if you don't have one, you have to create one. If you have one, you have to perhaps cross-reference it."

Agencies have their work cut out for them, said Eliot Christian, the U.S. Geological Survey's architect for the Global Information Locator Service (www.gils.net).

"Having a directory of all agency Web sites, you would think we would have those, and yet we don't," Christian said. "It turns out not to be a straightforward problem to figure out what is a government Web site.

"What does it mean to be a government Web site? Is it '.com' or '.edu' or '.gov'?" Christian asked.

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