Private companies may pay thousands a year to enable their users to search government sites and track information
For-profit Internet companies are likely to pay "tens of thousands" yearly
to hitch their Web sites to the new search engine being built to help the
public better track federal government information, the director of the
project said Monday.
Fees for commercial Internet users will be based in part on the number
of queries they submit to the search engine, said Dave Binetti, interim
director of the Federal Search Foundation. Large companies like America
Online, with more than 20 million subscribers, will probably generate the
most queries and thus pay the highest fees. Smaller companies with fewer
queries would pay less.
Companies will also be charged a flat fee to cover the cost of software
and hardware needed to connect them to the search engine, Binetti said.
The fee schedule is still being developed, but Binetti said the cost
of using the government search engine could reach tens of thousands of dollars
a year for many Internet companies - an amount he characterized as "not
The fees would apply to Internet companies that want to maintain their
own pages for searching for government information, but want the search
engine behind the page to be the government engine. Any Internet sites will
be able establish hot links to the search engine for free by linking to
Firstgov, the federal government's Internet portal.
The portal is expected to be ready for use in mid September.
Internet companies don't have to use the government search engine, but
there are advantages to doing so, Binetti said.
Since the Firstgov search engine is being designed specifically to search
government sites, it will provide "better comprehensiveness" than engines
designed for a wider range of searches, he said.
And if the search engine works as expected, Internet companies can probably
anticipate recovering some or all of their costs as improved access to government
information attracts more subscribers and advertisers, he added.
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