FirstGov's switch to new search engine delayed

FirstGov's switch to new search engine delayed

Equipment problems have delayed FirstGov.gov's switch to a new search engine, which was scheduled for March 31, and forced the General Services Administration to issue a purchase order to continue with its current engine, a GSA spokesperson said.

GSA last month awarded a five-year, $10.5 million contract to AT&T Corp., whose team included search-engine provider Fast Search and Transfer of Oslo, Norway. Switching over to the new search engine would end GSA's relationship with Federal Search Foundation Inc. of Washington, which provided the initial search capabilities to GSA at no charge under a memorandum of understanding.

GSA and Fed-Search agreed to end their agreement March 31, but with the delay GSA decided to issue a purchase order to Fed-Search for continued services, said David Binetti, Fed-Search president and chief executive officer. The GSA spokesperson said the purchase order was for $18,000 a month.

Binetti added, however, that Fed-Search has not decided whether to accept payment from GSA for the continued operations.

'GSA wanted to live up to their responsibilities and they had given us a date when the switchover would be complete,' Binetti said. 'We made our plans based on their data. They had some unforeseen complications with their hardware. We will stay on board until they are ready.'

He said he didn't think the switchover would take much longer.

The GSA spokesperson was unsure when the switchover would take place.

AT&T and Fast Search and Transfer spokespersons refused to comment, saying all information about FirstGov must come from GSA.

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