FirstGov among finalists for $100,000 prize

The portal was one of two government IT-specific projects among the finalists for the 16th annual Innovations in American Government Award sponsored by Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and the Council for Excellence in Government.

The award committee yesterday named 15 government programs as finalists. As a finalist, FirstGov receives a $10,000 grant and is eligible to win one of five $100,000 grand prizes. This is the second consecutive year FirstGov made the final cut.

'There is simply nothing else quite like it out there,' said Patricia McGinnis, president and chief executive officer of the council, a bipartisan Washington association. 'No other resource provides such comprehensive information and services in topical ways, so citizens do no need to know the inner workings of government hierarchies to get what they need.'

The General Services Administration, which runs FirstGov, redesigned the portal and improved its search engine in 2002. The site averages about 1.4 million visitors a week.

The other IT-specific program that made the final 15 was New York City's IT and Telecommunications Department's citywide geographic information system utility. It used advanced mapping technology to provide critical information to emergency responders during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the West Nile virus outbreak and the anthrax threat. The GIS gives instant, detailed pictures of physical features, from curb lines to water lines to transportation routes to building addresses.

Nearly 1,000 programs were nominated for the award, which recognizes quality and responsiveness at all levels of government and has fostered the replication of innovative approaches.

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