Officials consider private ownership, help for recreation portal

Officials consider private ownership, help for recreation portal

'The question of ownership is very much on the table.'

Federal officials framing plans for Recreation One-Stop, an ambitious upgrade of the government's portal for public users of recreation sites, are considering shifting ownership of the site to the private sector.

The Office of Management and Budget has tapped Recreation One-Stop as one of its 24 high-priority e-government initiatives. The program will overhaul the existing site, which provides limited information on recreational opportunities at about 2,000 federal recreation areas.

Recreation One-Stop will provide:

  • Online mapping

  • Transactions, such as the purchase of fishing and hunting licenses

  • State and local recreation information and possibly transaction services

  • Integration of weather, climate, stream flow, tidal and hazard information.

    The portal's developers also will consider selling advertisements on the site.

    Private advantages

    During a panel discussion of the project at the FOSE 2002 trade show last month in Washington, Scott J. Cameron, the Interior Department's deputy assistant secretary for performance and management, discussed the advantages of the project being operated by a private entity.

    'If the National Geographic Society owns it, or a similar organization, there is much more freedom of action,' Cameron said. 'The question of ownership is very much on the table.'

    If the site stays under government ownership, it still may sell advertising. 'We have brainstormed or fantasized about that question,' Cameron said.

    Promoters of the Recreation One-Stop, including Cameron and fellow FOSE panelists David B. Nelson, deputy CIO of NASA; John Mahoney, project manager for recreation in Interior's Office of Planning and Performance Management; and Jonathan Womer, government-to-citizen portfolio manager in the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, will meet with representatives from several federal agencies this month. They expect to meet with representatives of state and local governments next month.

    'The technology will be easy,' Mahoney said, 'The organization [of the project] will be difficult.'

    The portal will be rolled out in modules as they become available, starting later this year.

    'We'd love to see outside groups take responsibility for their sliver,' Mahoney said. He suggested, for example, that a national organization involved in skiing could take over that part of the project.
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