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Vivisimo and MSN to Power FirstGov

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Vivisimo has been awarded a federal government contract to provide search technology to the U.S. Government's FirstGov.gov portal, with MSN Search playing a key role in the new service.

As part of the agreement, Vivisimo teamed with Microsoft's MSN Search Web service to provide search results for the government domain.

Vivisimo plans to use its own crawling technology to develop focused/targeted crawls of some government (federal and local) material and then combine and cluster these with MSN results.

The General Services Administration (the organization that oversees FirstGov) said that the new implementation of FirstGov will include several new features, including government-wide news and image search services so citizens will no longer have to visit individual agency to find these resources.

The GSA also says that the new contract with Vivisimo and MSN provides significantly more services for less than the cost of previous FirstGov search services. The value of the contract is $1.8 million annually, which less than half the cost of the current search service on FirstGov.gov. The contract is part of a new Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) FirstGov has set up to acquire future Web search services. The BPA has a total value of $18 million over the length of the agreement.

FirstGov has also signed BPAs with Fast Search and Transfer (the company currently powering search on FirstGov) and Gigablast, in addition to the agreement with Vivisimo.

When can we expect to begin seeing the new FirstGov search? Neither Vivisimo nor the GSA has provided a specific launch date. However, this FirstGov newsletter from August says to begin looking in February 2006.

We first blogged about FirstGov publishing a request for information from companies interested in offering search services to the government portal back in March.

Since 2002, FirstGov's search capabilities have been powered with a database and search technology provided by Fast Search and Transfer and managed by AT&T. At its inception, FirstGov search was powered with technology from Inktomi.

Vivisimo is quite familiar with U.S. government web sites. Vivisimo's (the Clusty Meta Search ENgine offers its own U.S. government meta search tool that includes .gov results from the MSN Search database.

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