Add Convera to the growing list of search vendors targeting the public sector. Last week, the company launched a free search engine for government professionals, becoming the third recent entrant in the government search market.

In January, Vivisimo and Microsoft revamped the government’s official search portal, FirstGov. In June, Google introduced a free Web site for searching federal, state and local government sites via its trademark interface. Neither Google’s site nor Convera’s new site, called govmine, is affiliated with the government.

Kurt Gastrock, Convera’s chief operating officer, said govmine’s innards differentiate it from Google’s site, which relies on an analysis of links between Web sites to determine an individual page’s ranking. Govmine’s results are based on pattern recognition and semantic technology. “We’re not just capturing keywords or character strings,” Gastrock said. “We’re capturing the meaning.”

FCW Time Machine

17 years ago: Bell strikes may hamper transition to FTS 2000
Continued strikes by employees of the regional Bell operating companies could force the General Services Administration to reconfigure or delay transition to FTS 2000 by federal agencies, according to GSA and the two FTS 2000 contractors.

“We don’t fear a delay now, but we fear there is potential [for one] if the strike goes on,” said William Cunnane, head of GSA’s Office of Network Services. “It’s really a moving target right now.”

If the strikes by the employees at four of the seven regional Bell companies continue, the initial phase of the FTS 2000 transition may not be greatly affected.

7 years ago: DOD: Face Y2K on your own
Although many government agencies have assumed the Defense Department will handle any crises caused by the Year 2000 problem, DOD officials said this month that they do not plan to respond to all requests for help from state and local civilian authorities.

DOD adopted the position in an Aug. 12 message sent to all the military services by the Army’s Director of Military Support (DOMS) at the Pentagon. DOMS has been charged with supporting civilian authorities under the DOD Year 2000 Management Plan.

The message followed similar guidance issued by Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre.

1 year ago: Sun narrowly escapes GSA delisting
The General Services Administration almost pulled Sun Microsystems’ products from the popular GSA schedule contracts during the peak federal buying season because of a spat over prices.

In late July, GSA notified the 14 resellers on the information technology schedule that within 30 days they would no longer be authorized to offer Sun products to federal customers.

The agency granted Sun a reprieve Aug. 14 after the company agreed to drop some of its prices. A routine government audit had found that Sun offered better discounts to some commercial customers than to the government.


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