For feds' searches, Google is the main course

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Reader survey

In the Web search-engine race, Google is an easy winner for feds.

In a GCN telephone survey, 56 percent of federal IT managers favored Google or Google Uncle Sam, which returns hits from .gov and .mil sites, as their search engine of choice for government information.

An additional 13 percent of survey participants said they went first to individual agency Web sites when looking for information.

Only 5 percent listed FirstGov.gov, the General Services Administration's search engine, as their favorite source for government information.

Google also tallied big with survey participants as a general search vehicle. Seventy-eight percent of managers identified Google as their favorite commercial search engine, leaving Yahoo in the dust with 12 percent of the sample.

The latest GCN survey underscores Google's swift rise to prominence in recent years. In a 2002 GCN survey about search engines, Yahoo was the most widely used search tool. Google, which was founded in 1998 by two graduate students at Stanford University, came in second by seven percentage points.

Overall, the most recent survey revealed that government managers are heavily dependent on search engines to find information. Nearly half use search tools most of the time to find information, as opposed to other methods. More than a quarter use them exclusively to hunt for info.

All of that hunting pays off, according to the survey. Seventy-seven percent said they usually find what they're looking for; 20 percent said they always find the information they're after.

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