Google turns off tool for searching government sites

If you're looking for government information on the Web, you can no longer find it using Google has suspended operation of that and several other search tools, saying they are no longer necessary.

Visitors to the Uncle Sam search website were redirected to's main search page on June 14.

According to a June 8 article at the TechExta website, Google also pulled the plug on specialized search portals for searches related to Linux, Microsoft, Mac and

“These services were established many years ago to offer search across a limited index of the Web, which in the past was a better way to find this information. For example, was designed to help people find information from message boards and blogs about the Linux operating system,” Google said in a statement published by TechExtra.

“Today, search quality has advanced tremendously, and based on our analysis we’ve found that in most cases you’re better off looking for this kind of specialized information using the regular Google search box, for example by typing [linux fedora upgrade],” Google said.

Government marketing maven Mark Amtower, in a blog post on the subject, says Google doesn't understand what it did. In response to Google's assertion that users can now find all they need in a regular search, Amtower writes: "WRONG!!!! Regular searches include all the non-government sites we were able to filter out through the use of ... You  don't understand the nature of  our searches and you are WAY off base."


About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Sat, Aug 27, 2011 Skepticalreader Virginia

This really boils down to profits. With the new Cloud first directive and other new Government policies Google stands to make potentially billions in customizable applications for the Government based on code they already used for the Uncle Same search. Why would they keep providing something fro free now that they have a customer willing to pay through the nose for it? I just hope those government program managers are smart enough to realize that this tool already existed and refuse to pay extra for the service.

Tue, Jun 28, 2011 Steven

There was a long debate about the removal of the uncle sam search on Google's webmaster forum. One webmaster decided to create a custom search engine that only brings back results from government websites. His site is

Mon, Jun 20, 2011

I think it is really all about revenue. Governments don’t pay for visits to their sites, but commercial entities’ do.

Thu, Jun 16, 2011 Mal Conte

There comes a time when "experts" over-do the observation that "you don't understand" this or that, as it tends to be self serving, sometimes. No need to get people overly excited, as what happened was, well, apparently not understood.

Thu, Jun 16, 2011 Bob King Kansas

The fact that federal, state and local governments have inconsistent standards is no excuse to demand specialized search. .GOV has been around along time .US was originally meant to be used by state and local governments Concur heartily with the other reader's comment stating "no need to freak out, people!"

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