[govinfo] GovInfo News 10-26-06

  • From: "Patrice McDermott" <pmcdermott@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "govinfo@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <govinfo@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 26 Oct 2006 16:13:13 -0400

Patrice McDermott, Director
202-332-OPEN (6736)

- Google seeks better access to government information
October 25, 2006
By Daniel Pulliam
Officials from the leading Internet search engine are working to remove 
barriers that prevent their technology from reaching vast troves of information 
buried in government databases.
Internet users want government information because it has a reputation for 
being reliable and accurate, said J.L. Needham, a strategic partner development 
manager at Google. But while portions of agency Web sites are easily indexed by 
Google and other common search engines, the engines cannot search other areas, 
known as the deep Web.
For instance, Google cannot scan information in the database housed at the 
Environmental Protection Agency's Regulations.gov Web site, Needham said. The 
site allows users to view government regulations and post comments on proposed 
agency rules.
As much as 40 percent of the content on agency Web sites is invisible to 
Google's crawlers, Needham said. This means that for a majority of Internet 
users who do not know how to look beyond a search engine site, that information 
is effectively invisible.
A Dec. 16, 2005, memorandum from Clay Johnson, deputy director for management 
at the Office of Management and Budget, required all agencies by Sept. 1, 2006, 
to set up their public information so that it is searchable. It stated that 
"increasingly sophisticated Internet search functions" can "greatly assist 
agencies in this area."
Agencies also were required to provide all public data in an open format that 
allows the public to aggregate "or otherwise manipulate and analyze the data to 
meet their needs" by Dec. 31, 2005, according to a separate OMB memorandum 
signed by Johnson on Dec. 17, 2004.
Mark Luttner, director of EPA's Office of Information Collection in the Office 
of Environmental Information, said the agency's e-rulemaking program management 
office is working with OMB to respond to a recent request from a search engine 
company that wants to index the Regulations.gov data.
In addition to the technical challenges presented by the company's request, EPA 
has to consider whether a commercial company could assert proprietary ownership 
on federal data and whether providing government data to one company would 
provide an unequal playing field for other companies, Luttner said.
Needham said Google, for one, does not want to assert ownership over any 
information obtained from agencies, and agency efforts to improve the ability 
to search their Web sites would likely be equally beneficial to its competitors.
Commonly used search engines like Google are able to index other agency Web 
sites used to disseminate information, such as the Small Business 
Administration's Business Gateway e-government initiative.
Search engines cannot index the Grants.gov database housed at the Health and 
Human Services Department, according to John Etcheverry, director of grants 
systems modernization at HHS. ... Allowing search engines to crawl the entire 
Grants.gov database would create security vulnerabilities since it contains 
sensitive applicant information, he noted.
This document is located at http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/1006/102506p1.htm

Attachment: image001.gif
Description: GIF image

Attachment: image002.gif
Description: GIF image

Attachment: image003.gif
Description: GIF image

Other related posts:

  • » [govinfo] GovInfo News 10-26-06