FirstGov nets Azimuth Awards for Barram, Brewer

FirstGov nets Azimuth Awards for Barram, Brewer

David J. Barram, former administrator of the General Services Administration (top) and Eric Brewer, co-founder of Inktomi Corp. (bottom).

By Tony Lee Orr

GCN Staff

MARCH 22'Two men who pushed the government toward its first major electronic-government success were lauded last night for FirstGov, the one-stop federal Web portal.

David J. Barram, former administrator of the General Services Administration, and Eric Brewer, co-founder of Inktomi Corp. of Foster City, Calif., each took home an Azimuth Award after a gala at Washington's Four Season's Hotel.

The Chief Information Officers Council selects Azimuth Award winners. This is the third year of the awards, which honor accomplishments that support federal information technology.

Brewer, whose company developed FirstGov, told the audience that the same ideas that made the Web portal at firstgov.gov a success should be used for all e-government projects.

"You should think in quarters," Brewer said. "If you can't get something done in a quarter, you need to get a smaller problem. Don't choose to take a step if you know it's going to take you a year to take the step."

The government's CIOs and IT community made FirstGov happen, Barram told an audience that included many systems executives.

"You realized how important this was," Barram said. "You realized that there would be roadblocks but that we could start this anyway."

For Brewer, FirstGov was a vision. His desire to see it realized prompted him to donate millions of dollars worth of expertise to the project.

"I donated the money, not because it was particularly expensive-especially when compared to other government projects," Brewer said. "I donated the money because I knew we couldn't do it in 90 days if we had to go through regular funding."

He said the talent of the federal employees he worked with on the project surprised him.

"It takes ability to go someplace not knowing how things are going to turn out," Brewer said. "If you tried to make a plan and follow the plan for this type of project, you'd be wrong."

FirstGov took 90 days to build and provides links to every government Web page. It also lets users search for items by topic rather than by agency.

James Flyzik, CIO Council vice chairman and CIO of the Treasury Department, said FirstGov transformed industry's view of doing business with the government because it showed that the government can move at Internet speed-from idea to implementation.

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