Web site to offer data on federal grants, benefits

Sunday, June 25th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES – The government is consolidating its 20,000 Web sites into a single Internet location offering information from grants and contracts to an individual's benefits, President Clinton announced Saturday.

"Whether you want crucial information in starting a small business or you want to track your Social Security benefits, you can do it all in one place, 24 hours a day, seven days a week," he said in his first address exclusively on the World Wide Web.

The site, www.firstgov.gov, should be operating within 90 days as the government and Web designers worked "in the spirit of cutting through red tape," Mr. Clinton said.

It will offer individuals, small businesses and others a single source for information about roughly $500 billion in government grants and contract opportunities, Mr. Clinton said.

The site now features information about the coming service.

"When it's complete," he said, "Firstgov will serve as a single point of entry to one of the largest, perhaps the most useful collection of Web pages in the entire world."

The site is being developed, at no cost to taxpayers, by a team led by Internet entrepreneur Eric Brewer.

Mr. Brewer, chief scientist at Inktomi Corp., a software developer and marketer in Foster City, Calif., "developed one of the most successful Internet search technologies with the help of government grants," Mr. Clinton said in the Webcast, taped in Los Angeles during a fund-raising trip.

Inktomi's Web site said Mr. Brewer and Paul Gauthier, the company's chief technology officer, "developed a way to achieve supercomputing power at microcomputer prices" while working on a federally funded project at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1996.

Mr. Brewer did not return a message left Saturday at his office.

"Over the coming year, we will make it possible for people to go online and compete for these grants and contracts through a simplified electronic process," the president said. "Moving this enormous volume of business online will save a great deal of money and time for our taxpayers."

The White House said the plan is to offer a more standardized application process for the 30,000 different organizations that receive federal grants every year.

The president also announced a competition for new ideas in electronic government service. The nonprofit Council for Excellence in Government will award up to $50,000 for the best ideas from government employees, students, researchers and others.