Interagency kiosk group: We'll meet again

Interagency kiosk group: We'll meet again

By Dipka Bhambhani

GCN Staff

APRIL 11—About the only thing the Interagency Kiosk Forum agreed on yesterday at its first official meeting was its name.

The consortium of 50 representatives from 22 agencies also agreed to meet again on an unspecified date but left open determinations on the consortium's direction.

'The group can really have two main missions,' said Sam Gallagher, deputy web manager and kiosk project manager for the Housing and Urban Development Department: to share experiences and lessons learned and to explore the possibility of providing information from several agencies through single kiosks.

At HUD, Gallagher initiated the use of kiosks and said he has been 'spreading the word' about them with some success. Since HUD's installation of its first kiosk in Washington in May 1998, the idea has caught on steadily. The department has 94 kiosks in use around the country and plans to have about 110 by the end of this year on its $2.5 million annual kiosk budget. The kiosks mirror HUD's home page and supply answers for the department's most frequently asked questions.

HUD's early efforts prompted suggestions of an interagency meeting on the use of kiosks, Gallagher said. In 1999, 25 representatives from about 20 agencies convened at HUD headquarters but made little progress.

'At that point, we left the room with 'Maybe we'll follow up,'' Gallagher said. 'Nothing happened. The whole idea kind of died.'

But interest in kiosks has persisted, which helped lead to yesterday's meeting. Veena Bhatia, a computer specialist at the Education Department, said she attended the meeting for ideas on creating a framework for installing kiosks.

Education wants to install them around the country to give underserved portions of the population opportunities to apply for grants and other programs

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