Administration revives plan for federal portal

Administration revives plan for federal portal

WebGov is next on GSA's to-do list, Administrator David J. Barram says.

By Christopher J. Dorobek

GCN Staff

The Clinton administration has turned up the heat on a plan to develop a governmentwide Web portal, a General Services Administration project that has been on the back burner for months.

An official announcement is expected this month about the portal, known as WebGov, which would organize and centralize online government information in an easy-to-use format.

'WebGov will be the next thing we do,' GSA Administrator David J. Barram said last week in a speech at an Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association luncheon in Washington. 'We want it to be as broad as possible.'

An official close to the project said an announcement about WebGov's development would come this month.

WebGov has been in development for nearly two years [GCN, Aug. 24, 1998, Page 1] but is only now getting high-level attention from the Office of Management and Budget, the President's Management Council and Barram.

The portal would give citizens access to a wide variety of information, letting them search by common words even if unfamiliar with the intricacies of government organization.

'All agencies are signed up for this,' said Barram, who is also vice chairman of the President's Management Council.

'Everybody believes this is the way to go,' he said.

The sudden flurry of activity comes as the Clinton administration's term is nearing its end. It is unclear when WebGov would go online, but it will be launched in phases, the official said. Phase 1 will be up soon and will provide a comprehensive portal to government information, without transactions.

It is unclear if the site will be designed using a GSA schedule contract or if there will be a request for proposals, officials said, but they stressed it will be done quickly.

'This is not one of these six-month things,' the official said. 'We're rushing to get a foundation in place immediately.'

The upcoming announcement is expected to be a process of 'reaching out' to industry. 'We're going to be very open,' the official said.

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