Federal Web site wins top public service honor

The federal government's homepage, FirstGov.gov, was recognized on Thursday with one of the most highly-prized honors in public service, the Innovations in American Government Award.

FirstGov, which is operated by the General Services Administration, will receive a $100,000 grant from the award's sponsor, the Institute for Government Innovation at Harvard University.

At the awards ceremony in Washington, David Gergen, a former White House adviser and chairman of the selection committee, called the Web site "one of the most responsive organs in the federal government." FirstGov is billed as the government's portal, the Web site that provides visitors with a single point of access to information and services available from federal agencies.

Since 1986, the Innovations in American Government Awards, which are funded by the Ford Foundation and administered by Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government and the Council for Excellence in Government, have honored creative government programs that help solve economic and social problems. Winning programs must be original, effective and capable of being replicated nationwide.

Gergen said FirstGov has distinguished itself by supplying the public with timely information about major national events, such as tracking of the debris field created by the destruction of the space shuttle Columbia in February and news about the war in Iraq.

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