FirstGov.gov to Partner with Vivísimo MSN on Search
September 23, 2005
Contact: Mary Alice Johnson (202) 501-1231
Washington, DC – Citizens will have easier and expanded access to federal information and services thanks to the powerful new web search capabilities that will be added to the U.S. Government’s official web portal – FirstGov.gov, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) announced Thursday, September 22, 2005.
Citizens across the nation, as well as government employees, will benefit from FirstGov.gov’s improved web searching capability. Combining the power of a leading web search with an award-winning clustering technology, FirstGov.gov will function as the single, swift and efficient source for Americans to locate, identify and utilize information and government services at all levels from local to federal. This web search capability is available through a contract with Vivísimo of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in partnership with Microsoft of Redmond, Washington.
FirstGov will leverage Vivísimo’s award-winning Clusty.com search service, incorporating results and features from Microsoft’s MSN Search. For example, a search on “nursing jobs” will return results from government web sites and job listings from USAJOBS, the federal government’s official job database. Clusty makes it possible to search government databases simultaneously with MSN Search. FirstGov.gov’s approach to governmentwide search will provide citizens with unprecedented access to government information from a single source.
This new search strategy provides significantly more services for less than the cost of previous FirstGov search services. The value of the contract is $1.8 million annually, which is nearly half the cost of the current search service on FirstGov.gov. The contract is part of a new Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) FirstGov has set up to acquire future Web search services. The BPA has a total value of $18 million over the length of the agreement.
“The enhancements we’re unveiling today improve FirstGov.gov’s ability to guide citizens through the sometimes-confusing Federal bureaucracy, and translate to simple yet advanced searches of government information and images,” said MJ Pizzella, Associate Administrator of GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Communications. “When President Bush came to Washington, he issued clear instructions for all agencies to use technology to improve citizen access to federal information and services. The improved search engine – as well as the unique content developed and added to FirstGov.gov after Hurricane Katrina – move us a step closer to his vision of results-oriented, performance-based government that harnesses technology on behalf of the American public.”
Teri Takai, Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the State of Michigan, added, "We recognize FirstGov.gov as the official web portal and front door to the U.S. government. Here in Michigan, we have worked hard to make it easier for our citizens to access government services and information, and this latest enhancement to FirstGov.gov will go a long way to aid citizens in their search for federal and state government information."
From a local government perspective, David Molchany, CIO of Fairfax County, Virginia said, “The ability of FirstGov.gov to search from the U.S. Federal Government through State to Local Governments will be invaluable. This is an excellent example of joined up Government and one that will benefit the customers of government.”
FirstGov.gov, the award-winning federal portal, provides government information and services to citizens, businesses and other governments. FirstGov.gov is an integral part of creating a citizen-centric government, keeping in line with one of the five priorities in President Bush’s Management Agenda. In addition, FirstGov.gov is part of USA Services, one of the Presidential E-Gov initiatives created in 2003. USA Services delivers information and services to citizens through multiple channels. This includes the Internet, email, telephone, and publication distribution. Last year, USA Services reported 242 million public contacts, of which 5.4 million were through 1-800 FED INFO (for telephone and email), 5.1 million publications were distributed through the Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC) in Pueblo, Colorado and 202 million were FirstGov.gov.
FirstGov.gov Search will also significantly expand the scope of its government service capability. Currently, FirstGov.gov Search includes an index of approximately 8 million Federal government web pages. Vivísimo, in partnership with MSN, will provide an index that’s more than three times larger than the current service, and includes Federal, state, local, tribal and territorial government web sites.
In addition, FirstGov.gov will launch governmentwide News and Image search services so citizens will not have to go to individual agencies to find these resources. For example, Federal and state agencies both have image libraries covering Hurricane Katrina. To find Katrina images, citizens have to go to each agency to find ones they want to see. The new image search capability will allow citizens to search across all agency image libraries, so the citizen will have to go only to FirstGov.gov to find all Katrina images from official government agencies.
The new search service includes packages geared toward specific audiences (i.e., kids and Spanish speakers). These two audiences are very important, but existing services for these groups are not enough to meet their needs. FirstGov for Kids on Kids.gov will be enhanced by a more robust “kids only” search engine that will help children, parents and teachers locate kids’ appropriate content on government web sites. FirstGov en Español on Espanol.gov will offer the same search capabilities as FirstGov.gov, but specifically targeted to Spanish-speaking citizens.
Concurrently with the award of this contract, GSA has signed a BPA with Fast Search & Transfer of Needham, Massachusetts, Gigablast, Inc. of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Vivísimo of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The BPA enables GSA to easily acquire new search services that are important to citizens, and enhance citizen access to government information. Both the BPA and the first task order are being awarded for one base year and four option years.
GSA is a centralized, federal procurement, property management, policy development and information provision agency, created by Congress to improve government efficiency and help federal agencies better serve the public. In this role, GSA acquires products and services on behalf of federal agencies; plays a key role in developing and implementing governmentwide policies; provides services and solutions for the office operations of more than one million federal workers; and encourages a citizen-centric relationship with government by providing a single "point of entry" to the information and services citizens need in a timeframe they can appreciate. This allows citizens to receive accurate, timely and consistent answers and information, and helps federal agencies better respond to citizen inquiries.