GSA buys content management app for FirstGov

The General Services Administration has awarded Vignette Corp. of Austin, Texas, a contract to use its content management system on the FirstGov portal. The contract is worth $525,000 for the first year, which covers the software license as well as maintenance and implementation support. The contract includes four one-year options.

'The government has been behind in giving citizens information quickly on the Web,' said Mary Joy Jameson, GSA's associate administrator for the Office of Citizen Services and Communication. 'We are trying to keep up with what citizens get in the private sector by responding in a quick amount of time. With this software, we can do that now.'

Jameson used news of the Columbia shuttle disaster as an example. She said GSA put information on FirstGov within 24 hours, but an administration official called about 15 minutes after the explosion wondering when the agency would put information up, she said.

Vignette's software will let GSA refresh its Web site within minutes, Jameson said.

'Vignette won because they offered us everything we need from ease of use to scalability,' Jameson said.

Casey Coleman, chief technology officer for the Office of Citizen Services, said FirstGov is updated about twice a week and the software will allow more frequent updates.

'The management of the site can be handled by subject matter experts now instead of technical people because we can set up templates where all you have to do is plug in the information,' Coleman said. 'Citizens will see a more dynamic Web site and more uniform-looking pages.'

Currently, IT staff must hand code new pages for the portal using HTML and Java and then link other sites to the new page, Coleman said.

She added it will be easier for GSA to reuse information and track how data is shared among agencies.

Jameson said the software should be in full use by this summer. This marks the fourth enhancement to FirstGov in the past year. In addition to the content management software, GSA has added a new search engine, hosting services and a Web application server.

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