Saturday, December 15, 2007

Government blocks public info on search engines

By Libby

This has been a gripe of mine for a long time and now it's confirmed. Experts are telling Congress that governments websites are too difficult to use effectively.

Five years after the U.S. Congress passed legislation to improve electronic access to government information, 2,000 government Web sites contain public information that cannot be accessed through outside search engines, e-government experts said Tuesday. [...]

"Today, too much public information is effectively unavailable to the average American," said John Lewis Needham, Google's manager of public sector content partnerships. "It can't even be found in the federal government's own search engine,"

Tell me about it. And even when you do find the sites, their interactive features are terrible. You feel like a rat in a maze trying to navigate through multiple queries that are definitely not designed to be intuitive for the average technodope like myself.

Meanwhile, the article quotes a surprising critic.

Senator Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, questioned why many government Web sites don't make it easier for outside search engines. "Is it accidental?" he said. "Is it that they're not going the extra mile to make this happen?"

Hmmm. That sounds suspiciously like a conspiracy theory. Who would have thought Joe had it in him? But you do have to wonder why they make it so complicated. It does kind of feel deliberate to me.

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