White House wants WebGov to be gateway to all agencies

The Clinton administration is moving ahead with development of a general
government Web site.


WebGov will not provide content but be a starting point for the public to search all
the federal information contained on the Internet, said Rich Kellett, emerging IT policies
director in the General Services Administration’s Office of Information Technology.


The site developers are considering letting the public e-mail questions to the site.
“There is a lot of resistance to the idea; nobody wants more e-mail,” Kellett
said.


To get over that hurdle, the site’s developers must estimate the e-mail volume the
site would get and decide how it would be managed, Kellett said.


One part of the effort will be to sign up subject matter experts willing to handle
incoming questions on certain topics and then automatically divert the e-mail to them as
it is received, said Henry Lai, director of GSA’s Center for Emerging Technologies.


GSA has selected GTE Corp.’s inResponse software to manage e-mail sent to the
WebGov site. InResponse will automatically route mail to preselected folders.


The WebGov team has not decided how it wants to set up the package, whether to send
mail to one person’s folder or to a pool of representatives from across agencies or a
department, said Steven Batdorff, a manager for GTE’s Web solutions information
systems division.


GTE sells inResponse commercially for $59,950, Batdorff said. It charges extra for the
consulting and set-up services.


WebGov will use a search engine from GSA’s Government Information Xchange Web site
to run governmentwide searches, Lai said. The Xchange site uses Inquery, a search engine
from Sovereign Hill Software Inc. of Hadley, Mass.


Agency webmasters will be responsible for updating the databases linked to WebGov.
“What we are doing is setting up a common infrastructure, a topic-oriented directory
structure,” Lai said.


The WebGov site will give visitors the choice of frame or text, Kellett said. “We
may get a little extra money to do a graphics version, but then we might not do it and use
the money for something else,” he said. 

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