This document was downloaded and archived from on May 21, 2001.


  Daily Briefing  


FirstGov Web portal to launch by October

By Frank A. Micciche

Federal officials expect the front door to e-government to swing open within four months. And once it opens, they say, visitors will be able to find the government information they're looking for in less than one second.

According to the board of directors of FirstGov, the omnibus federal web portal that President Clinton unveiled last week, users should be able to access the site by October, only five months after Eric Brewer, co-founder of internet search engine giant Inktomi Corp. first came forward with the technology and funding necessary to get the project off the ground.

"Eric Brewer is the key to getting this done," said GSA Administrator and FirstGov board member David Barram at a press conference Thursday. "There is no way to know how much longer this would have taken if he did not step up."

Until Brewer's arrival on the scene in April, the Clinton administration's effort to create a federal Web portal seemed to be making little progress. The National Partnership for Reinventing Government had announced plans for an all-inclusive federal site, to be called WebGov, in August 1998. At the time, it was announced that GSA's Government Information Xchange would serve as the primary search engine for the site. Logistical and capacity questions dogged the initiative.

Enter Inktomi, which volunteered to construct a database containing copies of the full-page text of the nearly 100 million government pages currently online. Thanks to the technology Brewer developed under a Defense Department grant at the University of California, and which made him a multimillionaire by his 30th birthday, the database will be capable of searching half a billion documents in less than one-quarter second.

Barram cited Brewer's gratitude for the grant, and his interest in sustaining a vibrant democracy, as the driving forces behind his magnanimity. Beyond such lofty ideals, Brewer is also a founding member of the NetCoalition, a group of nine of the most influential Internet corporations that formed in order to lobby Congress and the executive branch on pressing technology issues.

Denying speculation that the decision to scrap the WebGov name in lieu of FirstGov signified that the original project was a failure, Barram said the major reason for the change was that the board could not purchase the domain name By comparison, the new site will be accessible at,, and

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