Governor Charlie Crist announced Monday a new partnership between the State of Florida and Google. This collaboration will enable citizens to use search engines such as Google to locate government programs and services. The governor was joined by John Burchett, state policy counsel for Google, to make the announcement. Google has helped state officials implement these Web site improvements at no cost to Floridians.
"This public-private partnership is an innovative way to improve the accessibility of state information for all Floridians," said Crist. "I am grateful for this chance to join with Google to further develop Florida's leadership in delivering open government services to the people of Florida. By empowering Floridians with the tools they need for easier access to state agency Web sites, we are allowing them to truly take ownership of state government."
The partnership between Google and Florida developed as officials from both entities recognized that the public is increasingly turning to search engines to access government services. However, a significant share of information on state agency Web sites could not be found using standard search engines because the information was stored behind a database, hindering citizens from easily finding online state government services. Now, with improved technology, search engines will access and index the records in online databases, making them available to anyone using a search engine.
"Every day, millions of people turn to search engines to find the authoritative and trustworthy information provided by their government, and it is our mission to help them connect with this content," said Elliot Schrage, vice president of global communications and public affairs at Google. "Florida has joined a growing circle of states that are taking a significant step to make their online information and services more accessible to their citizens."
Examples of information now accessible through the Google search engine includes reports regarding water and waste permitting through the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Web site or looking up information on individual schools using the Florida Department of Education's Web site. Other Florida agencies that can now be accessed include Department of State, Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Agency for Workforce Innovation. Additional agencies will be added in the coming weeks as their Web site information is made available. Florida joins California, Arizona, Michigan, Utah and Virginia as one of the first states to partner with Google to improve accessibility of its online services.