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The FOI Advocate is a compendium of ideas, edited story excerpts and other materials from a variety of Web sites, as well as original concepts and analysis. When the information comes directly from another source, it will be attributed and a link will be provided whenever possible. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited. We will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Google, Wikipedia: Government records hard to find!

The Washington Post drops in on the pubic records/search engine issue:

These days you can Google just about anything, from your favorite celebrity's pet to your boss's middle name. But using the biggest search engine to get information about the government often falls short.

That's what leaders from Google and Wikipedia plan to tell the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs today, urging Congress to require federal agencies to make their Web sites, records and databases more searchable...

Four out of five Web surfers use search engines to find information, usually bypassing a site's home page unless the page appears in the search results, said John Lewis Needham, manager of public-sector content partnerships for Google.

Needham has spent the past 18 months working with agencies to make their online presence more Googlable. The Internet giant is also working with states to let people search databases to find, for example, licensing records, consumer complaints and financial transactions. Virginia and the District have partnered with Google.

The biggest hurdle agencies face in sharing information with one another and with citizens is not the technology but rather how the agencies organize information, said Karen Evans, who oversees the e-government program for the Office of Management and Budget. OMB also must protect the privacy of people listed in the hundreds of millions of records on file, she said.

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