Governments Get Smart

Governments Get Smart

by / December 26, 2006
Search giant Google is plying its wares to the federal sector by promoting free search engine tools designed to improve online visibility for all levels of government --and training on these applications is included.

"We are trying to convey to governments that Google can help them index all their Web site information for users," said J.L. Needham, strategic partner development manager at Google. "This evolution of the Web can empower smaller entities, such as agencies and state/local governments, to convey their information and services to users."

Google's initiative to distribute free tools to Web publishers lets agencies streamline and broaden their Web site's content, increase visibility and enhance targeted searching for users.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) use Google Co-op to create header tags above search results and the CDC name/link associated with results when users search for information on the CDC.

Similarly the Food and Drug Administration points Web seekers to information on clinical trials and has uploaded clinical trial data to Google. "Google offers a dozen or so services for agencies to disseminate information, and help get content and services in the hands of citizens," Needham said, adding that keyword searches on search engines often reveal only a small fraction of the information contained on portals only known by government librarians.

"Agencies have so many unused pages that could be site-mapped," he said. "Lost content can be replaced by dynamic site maps."

Google's site map application is based on open standards. The application not only targets user searches, but also acts as a cataloging system, similar to an individualized library.

Agencies can specify the nature of a particular URL in a database and tag, or annotate, search results, letting the user know if the information is archival or subject to public access. The results are shuffled for each search.

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State and local health agencies can now improve online presentation and the exchange of health information. The State alliance for e-Health, forged in October 2006, will serve as a forum to discuss health IT solutions.

The National Governors Association's Center for Best Practices created the alliance, and will manage its operations.

State-level solutions -- from industry, government officials on all levels, and health IT experts and organizations -- to problems involving the exchange of health information include strengthening inter-organizational business processes and integrating benefit programs and care to citizens.


The Government Accountability Office released its study of administrative processes in health services and determined that federal agencies must better balance administrative costs via technology improvements.

States depend on federal agencies to succeed. "Simplifying policies," the report stated, "especially those related to eligibility determination processes and federal funding structures -- could save resources, improve productivity, and help staff focus more time on performing essential program activities. By helping states facilitate technology enhancements across programs, the federal government can help streamline processes and potentially reduce long-term costs."

The report analyzed how states and federal agencies saved money by developing and maintaining IT systems. For example, states that receive verified electronic data from the Social Security Administration can determine recipients' eligibility for food stamps without collecting and verifying applicant information separately. "Technology plays a central role in the management of human service programs, and keeping up with technological advancements offers opportunities for improving the administration of human services," the report states.

To access the report, visit