FirstGov en Espanol esta aqui!

FirstGov en Espanol

Spanish speakers now have a new government resource to turn to. The General Services Administration today launched FirstGov en Espanol, a Spanish language version of the FirstGov portal.

Like FirstGov, the new site's purpose is to help users locate government information without having to first know which agency is likely to have that information. The Spanish site links to about 110,000 pages of information in Spanish, including health, immigration, civil rights and small-business issues. As with FirstGov, all resources that FirstGov en Espanol connects users to are official government documents, GSA officials said.

GSA held a ceremony in Washington, D.C., to activate the site.

About 37 million Hispanic citizens live in the United States, making them the largest minority group, said Alexander Acosta, assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Justice Department.

They account for about $600 billion in purchasing power, and "their success is not just economic," he said. "More than 6,000 Latinos hold public office. There has been amazing, amazing success."

Many American Hispanics are entrepreneurial, said Michael Barrera, acting associate deputy administrator at the Small Business Administration.

"Making the tools of government more readily accessible to these businesses is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart business thing to do," he said.

The SBA information that Spanish speakers can now find through FirstGov is also an added resource for economic development agencies at the state and county levels, said Barrera, who used to head a Chamber of Commerce in Kansas before moving to Washington. He found very little business information in Spanish for would-be entrepreneurs he encountered in Kansas, he said.

"Chambers across the country now have a resource," he said.

The portal also gives ready access to health information, said Surgeon General Richard Carmona. "This site fits neatly into something I've been talking about for the past several months, and that's health literacy," he said. Health literacy, simply, is knowledge and understanding about things that affect health and requires access to reliable and current information, he said.

President Bush has given Carmona instructions to work toward public health preparedness, a new term in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, he said. Bush also has told Carmona to eliminate health disparities among ethnic and economic groups.

"Woven through all of these issues is health literacy," Carmona said. "It is our common currency."

FirstGov, and now the Spanish site, will be important tools in the drive to increase health literacy, he said. The one-stop approach, "breaking down the bureaucratic walls of government," makes it much more likely that people will get the information they need and not give up in frustration before finding the answer.

"A request for information should not be a war of attrition," he said.

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