‘Google For Government’ Coming Soon?

The Washington Post blog The Trail reports on challenges with implementing the already enacted Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act. The Act, passed last year, is intended to provide much more information to “ordinary Americans” regarding federal funding and federally funded projects via a search interface (not Google specifically). According to the blog, however, a number of federal agencies are “dragging their feet on its implementation.” An organization supporting the act is calling on US presidential candidates to pledge to accelerate implementation if elected.

Related Topics: Channel: Consumer | Search Engines: Government Search Engines


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • joe

    Spell Government correctly Greg! Not to be rude, but off-late you’ve fallen off my radar with posts such as calling Youtube’s overlay ads as innovative. Hope you research more before you jump in with your posts!

  • http://www.ppc-advice.com Garry – PPC-Advice.com

    Hey joe,

    Quote: “but off-late”? Who’s jumping into posts?

    Was that post meant to be sarcastic?


  • http://www.resourceshelf.com gary price

    Hey Greg:
    I thought I would toss in a few other U.S. Government databases already online and improving on a frequent basis. This list could go on and on. Maybe a book is in order? Actually, there are several good ones available already. Of course, items come and go regularly so quick scan of ResourceShelf.com turned up these items. All available as of today.

    Before getting to these items it’s essential to know about the U.S. Government Web Harvest Databases from the National Archives and the Internet Archive. Terabytes of data. An essential place to search if what you are looking for content that is no longer online. Two “harvests” are available:
    + 109th Congress (2006)
    + Presidential Term (2004, 75 million web pages)
    Unlike the Wayback Machine (still essential) these databases ARE keyword searchable.
    Indexing by Nutch.

    Several states are also now using the Archive-It service from the IA. See this page.

    Now to Some Federal Government Tools
    1) http://usasearch.gov
    This is formerly the search that was available via FirstGov and since Vivisimo took it over (in conjunction with MSN Search) it is much better. Perfect? No. But what is. You can also now limit your search to government news and images. A Spanish language interface is also available.

    Of course, in addition to results you receive the benefit of Vivsimo’s dynamic clustering. This can lead to discoveries that would be impossible viewing results one page at a time. It also show you quickly what you don’t know. Like other Clusty services it also allows you to embed a LIVE version of the page directly into the results set. To do this simply click linked marked “preview.”

    Another useful feature is the frequently requested forms and questions are marked directly at the top of the results page. Here’s an example.

    Of course, their are many specialty U.S. Government databases worth knowing about. Enough for many posts. However, just a few top faves at this time.

    + ClusterMed
    Again Vivisimo clustering (limited amount of results for free) but what makes it most interesting is that because of the amount of high quality metadata associated with each record you can cluster results various ways. Here’s an example of a simple search for “avian flu.”
    Now, note in the left panel the various ways to sort and cluster.
    TiAbMh=Title, Abstract, Medical Subject Heading
    TiAB=Title and Abstract
    Mh=By the medical subject heading (see: MESH Thesaurus)
    Dp=Date of Publication

    + MetaVid
    A project from the University of California, Santa Cruz that lets you keyword search and then view video from sessions of the U.S. Congress.

    + The U.S. Government is also home to ERIC. One of the primary education databases globally.
    http://www.eric.ed.gov. Now, more and more ERIC documents are being digitized and being made available online. ERIC also indexes journal articles and is home to an excellent controlled vocabulary (in the form of a thesaurus) of education terms. Browse or search and note how entries contain relationships (broader terms, narrower term, use for, etc.).

    + The Government Printing Office (GPO) is the largest publisher in the world, a couple of key databases:

    + Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP)!

    The CGP is the finding tool for federal publications that includes descriptive records for historical and current publications and provides direct links to those that are available online. Users can search by authoring agency, title, subject, and general key word, or click on “Advanced Search” for more options.

    DOCUMENTS DATA MINER 2 from Wichita State University Libraries
    Primarily for gov doc librarians but it can be useful to browse new docs as they are given permanent URLS (PURLS). To do that leave all the fields blank except the dates. Usually a month at a time is more than enough.

    Finally, research tools from the National Archives and Records Admin in database format.

    + Access to Archival Databases (AAD)

    + ARC Database

    Search descriptions of records in our custody. Find by keyword, document location or digital image.

    We could do a complete book on what the Library of Congress provides. I’ll limit to one. :-)
    The database from the Prints and Photographs Division not only contains records about items but also thousands and thousands of digitized images associated with each record. Have fun!!!

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