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Google to Launch Government Search Site

Google to Launch Government Search Site, By Kim Hart Washington Post, June 15, 2006; D01.


The government search site joins similar engines that target the same audience. The five-year-old FirstGov.gov, a government-sponsored site powered by Microsoft Corp.’s MSN, is geared to help citizens locate federal, state and local information without sifting through individual agency sites….

Other similar search engines include http://govspot.com , http://searchgov.com and http://govengine.com…

More than 87 million unique visitors used Google’s search engine in May, compared with 443,000 that searched FirstGov, according to Nielsen-NetRatings.

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


  1. One thing I find annoying about the new Google U.S. Government Search is that the default search is web wide. If you click on [Enter] after entering your search terms, you search the entire web. The [Search] bar is divided into two parts: [Search Government Sites] on the left and [Search the Web] on the right. This is unlike Google Unclesam where all you had to do was click [Enter] after your search terms and it defaulted to searching .gov and .mil sites. I miss that feature. The skeptic in me wonders if the new version defaults to web wide searching to generate a click through revenue stream.

  2. Leaving aside the search engine, I find the choice of front page resources to be both intriguing and sad.

    Looking at that front page you find a mix of Presidential, Military and Commercial Resources. Signing in to customize the page doesn’t give you any new options – only control over how many or whether to display articles in the sections of Weather, White House News (Press Releases), Washington Post, Armed Forces (Press Releases), Government Executive and Top Google News stories.

    Think about what is NOT being given exposure here:

    • The entire judicial branch, even the US Supreme Court
    • The entire legislative branch – not a word about bills, hearings or how to find your Member of Congress.
    • The entire executive branch aside from the President and the military.

    Presumably the Google folks posted links they figured would be of interest to their audience and likely based on some kind of research, though maybe not. I hope not, because the alternative is a country that believes that we are ruled by a President and his military and the rest of government simply doesn’t matter. I’d like to believe this isn’t true.

    Another thing that’s missing from this large swath of front page real estate is any linking to high value federal resources including:

    There are many more high-value services that they could have linked to. Why didn’t they? Maybe because they’re not experts in government information. What can documents librarians do? I’d suggest a combination of suggesting sites to this service and ones like it combined with more publicity for depository libraries and federal resources.
    “And besides all that, what we need is a decentralized, distributed system of depositing electronic files to local libraries willing to host them.” — Daniel Cornwall, tipping his hat to Cato the Elder for the original quote.

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