Firm Nabs FirstGov Portal Pact

WASHINGTON (08/14/2000) - A Northern Virginia company was hired Aug. 11 to build the federal government's official Internet portal, a site on the World Wide Web that is intended to make it much easier for the public to search for and find information that the government has posted on the Internet.

GRC International Inc., a systems integrator, will be paid US$4.1 million during two years to build and operate the portal, FirstGov.gov, the General Services Administration announced. The portal is expected to be ready for public use in September. That gives GRC and a team of six subcontractors about a month to develop the portal's graphical interface, hook up its search engine and establish a Web presence. The companies will also develop a promotional campaign to advertise the site, said Wayne Jackson, a spokesman for GRC. The team includes AT&T Corp., Autonomy Corp., Appnet Inc., Mercury Interactive Corp., Oracle Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. AT&T is GRC's parent. The team will operate and maintain the portal at least through August 2002.

The portal had been expected to cost up to $20 million to build, but in June, the White House announced that Eric Brewer, a University of California computer scientist and founder of the search engine company Inktomi Corp., would donate his expertise to the project.

On Aug. 10, GSA officials described Brewer's contribution as "a database index" of all federal government Web sites and Web pages - an estimated 20,000 sites and 100 million pages.

Using Brewer's technology, FirstGov is expected to search a half-billion documents in less than a quarter of a second. It is to be able to handle 100 million searches daily, GSA officials said.

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