CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - The Institute for Government Innovation at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government announced that the federal government's FirstGov web portal won the "Oscar" of Government awards.

FirstGov, administered by the U.S. General Services Administration, is one of five winners in the prestigious Innovations in American Government Award and will receive a $100,000 grant to support replication of its creative efforts.

Citizens, businesses and government employees can visit FirstGov to get a copy of a birth certificate, choose retirement benefits, download a passport application, apply for a federal student loan, file income taxes, report a company's quarterly wage earnings, file a patent, buy stamps and much more, all online. FirstGov's links to more than 180 million pages of information from federal, state and local governments provide citizens instant, easy, secure and constant access to the government. More than 1.4 million visitors per week testify to FirstGov's usefulness.

FirstGov continually researches and analyzes calls, e-mail queries and online statistics on hot topics to provide the services and information Americans want most. During the recent Iraq War, for example, FirstGov helped citizens navigate a variety of information quickly and easily, including directing them to posting messages of encouragement to those fighting abroad.

FirstGov was selected from among fifteen finalists and nearly 1,000 applicants. For 16 years, the Innovations in American Government Award has recognized quality and responsiveness at all levels of government and has fostered the replication of innovative approaches to the challenges facing government.

The award, a program of the Institute for Government Innovation at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government is administered in partnership with the Council for Excellence in Government. The program was founded by the Ford Foundation to identify and promote excellence and creativity in the public sector.