GSA releases RFI for new FirstGov search engine

FirstGov.gov is getting a search face-lift.

The General Services Administration earlier this week released a request for information seeking ways to improve the much-criticized Web portal.

“FirstGov seeks to adopt governmentwide search indexes and related services produced by the private sector,” the RFI said. “FirstGov plans to create value-added features and support services to enhance information delivery and is seeking information on technologies that may enable these initiatives.”

By April 15, vendors should provide GSA with a description of how they would improve FirstGov’s:


  • Web search content and features


  • Web search technology


  • Search support services.



GSA also said it is “open to alternative concepts for solutions that meet its overall goals to provide comprehensive governmentwide search capabilities.”

The agency is using the RFI as a precursor to competing the FirstGov contract for search and hosting. The agency hired AT&T Corp. to host the site in March 2002 under a five-year, $10 million contract. AT&T is using a search engine from Fast Search & Transfer of Foster City, Calif.

Inktomi Corp. of Foster City, Calif., developed the original search engine in 2000, which was donated to the government through Federal Search Foundation Inc. of Washington.

Meanwhile, the Executive Office of the President plans to release a request for proposals in late April for hosting and maintaining the volunteer search engine at www.usafreedomcorps.gov.

The presolicitation notice earlier this month asked for a vendor to provide a clearinghouse of information on volunteer opportunities based on interests and geographic location. The engine contains information from 13 partner organizations that provide hundreds of thousands of volunteer opportunities for federally administered and non-profit service programs.

The firm-fixed-price contract would be for one year with three one-year options.

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