FirstGov for Science, connects you to U.S. Government science and technology.


Remarks from the version 2.0 Launch on May 11th, 2004
Washington D.C. - Forrestal Building

Dr. Warnick

Hello. I am Walt Warnick, Director of the DOE Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

It is a privilege to welcome you here today, as we celebrate a significant innovation for the benefit of science. That is, the newest version of the Federal government’s FirstGov for science Web portal, called 2.0.

It’s an exciting day for OSTI and our partners in the Alliance. We’re especially pleased that Secretary Abraham is here to launch 2.0 and open it to the public.

The key new benefit is relevance ranking of the government’s vast stores of science research documents. Put simply, we are helping patrons sort science information to best meet their needs BEFORE it arrives at their desktops.

A little history: Back in 2000, DOE convened a workshop chaired by Al Trivelpiece, who was Director of the Office of Science under President Reagan. The idea was to envision a new science information infrastructure that capitalized on new technology. The workshop laid out a grand vision for accessing science information. Marty Blume, editor of the journals of the American Physical Society, is here with us today, and he was a leading voice in that workshop.

Those of us who managed large collections of government science information faced a challenge. We embraced the grand vision but how could we take the first concrete step to make it a reality?

Enter what has come to be called the Alliance Workshop. It was held in 2001 and was sponsored by several agencies represented here today. From this workshop came the concept of It brought together, through the collaboration of 12 agencies, major information collections which up until then had been isolated and hard to find. 1.0 connected these isolated islands of information and made them more visible and searchable via a single Web portal. Some of those who tackled that challenge are here with us today

Eleanor Frierson of Agriculture and Tom Lahr of USGS are co-chairs the Alliance. We especially welcome Bruce James, Public Printer of the United States and head of the Government Printing Office. We appreciate the contributions GPO has made not only to the Alliance but also the great partnership that GPO has had with DOE for many years. 1.0 facilitated public access to forty-seven million pages of government science information. It may be a bit difficult to grasp how much information that is. If those pages were stacked, you would amass a stack as high as the Washington Monument - but then you would have to make 16 more such stacks. These are the results from more than a million person-years of R&D. 1.0 was a fine achievement. But one can have too much of a good thing. Our patrons were too often deluged with these research results. Patrons would get numerous results from NASA, and numerous results from DOE, and numerous results from DOD, and NIH, and on and on.

So the Department of Energy took a hint from the commercial search giant Google – that is, we decided to make search results more relevant!

As all Google users know, the top hits on Google are often the very end of your search. Google itself credits Relevance Ranking for its success, and quite a success it has been! For us, relevancy ranking was a promising concept, but applying it to our government databases residing in the deep Web - where traditional search engines like Google cannot go - was not straightforward.

However, backed by a strong Alliance and with support from the DOE Small Business Innovation Research Program, a company called Deep Web Technologies performed the R&D to rank search results in that part of the Web where government databases reside. Applying the SBIR results to 2.0, patrons still pull to their desktops lots of wonderful science. But now those results are ranked in user-friendly order.

Here with us today formerly with DOE SBIR Program is Arlene deBlanc, and still with the SBIR program is Julie Scott. And with us from Deep Web Technologies is Abe Lederman, a true virtuoso of computer programming.

Today we celebrate a first – the first time relevance ranking has been applied to large collections of Federal R&D results.

In these times of information overload, helping citizens sort through results to find the information they really need is a critical accomplishment.

Demonstrations of 2.0 will be available at the reception following this launch. Our exhibit outside the auditorium will be moved shortly to the lobby where it will remain for the rest of this month.

Even while we are celebrating this milestone, there are other milestones already in the works. Really, we have only just begun. In fact, this very week the Alliance is laying plans for the next advance at the cutting edge of information management: 3.0!

With each new milestone, we come ever closer to realizing the grand vision of the Trivelpiece Workshop.

It’s now my pleasure to introduce Dr. Raymond Orbach, Director of the DOE Office of Science. Through his vision and initiative, Dr. Orbach is succeeding in keeping the United States at the forefront of scientific discovery. On behalf of my colleagues in the Alliance and at OSTI, let me extend our appreciation to Dr. Orbach for his commitment to science.

Please welcome Dr. Raymond Orbach.

Dr. Raymond Orbach, Director for the Office of Science (SC)

United States Secretary of Energy, Spencer Abraham (DOE)


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