GSA refreshes FirstGov portal


FirstGov, the government's Web portal for citizens, has been redesigned and "refreshed" in an attempt to make it easier to use.

The General Services Administration unveiled a new version of the portal on May 6.

FirstGov is a "dynamic, ever improving Web site," said M. J. Jameson, associate administrator for the Office of Citizen Services and Communications (OCSC), FirstGov's home within GSA.

The system gives users access to more than 180 million pages of government information, including state and local agencies. First launched in 2000, the site was relaunched in 2002. This week's refresh was the third major upgrade to the portal.

Based on comments from users, GSA made several improvements to the site. Information for businesses, federal employees and other government is sorted by category, and a single click will take a user into the section of interest.

Use of the site has grown by 444 percent since 2001, Jameson said. In that year, 7 million people visited the site, compared to 37 million in 2002. GSA predicts 70 million users will log on this year.

To support the front-end facelift, GSA is overhauling some of the site's inner workings. The agency is rolling out a content management system that will let authorized users add or modify content on the site. Currently, only coders skilled in Web development can change the content.

The content management system will allow FirstGov to be updated more quickly, said Casey Coleman, the OCSC's chief technology officer.


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