TITLE: FirstGov.gov

Access: http://www.firstgov.gov/

All levels of information seekers will want to know about FirstGov, a new, free U.S. government web portal, launched in September of 2000. A project of the President's Management Council, FirstGov provides a single point of access to all federal government information posted on the Web. Finally, a simple, straightforward way to access just U.S. government information on the web.

One can search FirstGov in several ways: by keyword or phrase searching; by browsing the Interesting Topics; or by selecting a branch of United States government or the state and local government information links. The home page is primarily text-based, and a simple navigational links bar appears at the top of every FirstGov web page.

The Interesting Topics section offers users sixteen general subject areas with links to related web sites. For example, the Consumer Services and Safety section leads users to a page with Featured Links on Recalls and Complaints, as well as at least 25 Related Links on topics such as Automobile Safety and Recalls, Food, Drugs and Cosmetics Safety, and Food-borne Illnesses and Food Product Complaints. The Interesting Topics section is fairly intuitive and easy for users to browse if they have a general sense of the information they are seeking.

The left side of the home page offers several sections of useful links, starting with the Featured Subjects section, which allows FirstGov to highlight interesting and timely web pages and feature new government sites. The next section includes the three branches of the U.S. government. The state and local government information section includes links to economic data, military installations, national parks, a post office locator, and many other links to information and statistics organized by state. The section titled Your Feedback allows users to register complaints, report problems or offer feedback to many agencies by topic, or by the agency name itself. One can also submit feedback about the FirstGov website itself.

Page layouts are simple and clean, and graphics are kept to a minimum. Whether you are searching for crime statistics, for information on alternative medicine, or for the Secret Service web site (who remembers that it's part of the Department of the Treasury?), this is the web site for you. The site is a valuable resource for all reference librarians who may be searching for government information, and for all levels of users who may be searching for statistics, legislation, or consumer information.

Caroline L. Gilson
Radford University

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