I have just become aware of an exciting and important opportunity for all of us who share an interest in access to government information or interoperable search.
Please urge vendors who deal in search technology or Information Retrieval to respond to the Request for Information (RFI) entitled "Efficient and Effective Information Retrieval and Sharing" (available at http://www.fbo.gov/spg/GSA/V/VC/GS00V05PDC0062/listing.html ). Responses are due by October 21, 2005.
The U.S. Federal government intends to use the RFI responses to inform future decisions and potential procurements. As you may know, an evaluation of interoperable search was performed in 2003 and 2004, resulting in the Recommendations at http://www.search.gov/interop/Recommendations-CGI-final.doc . Responses to this current RFI will supplement those recommendations when the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issues interoperable search policy by December 17, 2005 as required under the E-Government Act, section 207(d).
This RFI asks for responses to seven scenarios highlighting information discovery, retrieval, aggregation, and sharing needs. My abbreviated descriptions of the seven scenarios are given below. Respondents may develop their own scenarios, and respondents may also respond substantively to only a portion of the RFI if desired.
Please help by posting to all relevant distribution lists a note about this opportunity as soon as possible. I do apologize to those of you who will get this message multiple times. Also note that I have used only "bcc" addressees in my note to avoid exposing your e-mail address to others.
RFI Scenario 1. Researching Unexplained Illnesses among Defense Contractors
A physician needs to perform a fairly exhaustive search for government information across the range of the U.S. Federal agencies, some state and local governments, and various commercial and academic resources. The information exists in a wide variety of formats, including hand-written forms that have been digitized. Some of these information resources are not easily accessible from typical Internet search engines (sometimes called "deep Web" resources). The physician needs to aggregate, analyze, and manipulate the information relevant to the topic, and also needs to correlate data geospatially. The physician will publish a scholarly paper on the completed findings, including citations to electronic government records, and those cited resources are expected to be attainable at some arbitrary point in the future. The physician will also want to be automatically notified whenever new information concerning unexplained military service-connected illnesses is published.
RFI Scenario 2. Performing a Search for an Expert
The government wants to identify experts to study an urgent, complex, yet relatively obscure technical issue. The experts could be drawn from throughout the Federal Government and perhaps from state/local/tribal governments and the private sector, especially academic and non-profit organizations. Since the technical issue is relatively obscure, it is unlikely that the skills related to it have been captured in human resources (HR)/personnel management systems. More likely, experts may be identified through an analysis of subject matter related work products and agency public websites. But, some of the relevant works may be within internal Federal Government information systems, elsewhere outside the government, or otherwise not readily accessible through Internet search engines.
RFI Scenario 3. Performing Academic Research
For a report on Poland's involvement in the Cold War, a student needs to locate and analyze information resources covering this topic. This requires an ability to: identify all relevant government and other resources, with a preference for primary sources (e.g., reports, photos, maps, military unit histories, etc.) over secondary sources (e.g., textbooks, encyclopedias, etc.); translate into English as needed; rank information resources by relevance; extract relevant facts, summaries, and text passages from selected resources; download maps of various Cold War hotspots and add overlays to these maps; organize the information through an analysis of the relevant resources, and; publish the resulting work as both a paper and a website.
RFI Scenario 4. Conducting an Information Audit Trail
An individual or organization must track the flow of electronic information on a specific topic between government agencies to understand how and where the information was processed, and also to identify the extent to which the information is accurate, relevant, timely, and complete. This requirement may follow from processes such as application filings, environmental findings, historical research, or a need to find more authoritative sources.
RFI Scenario 5. Sharing Law Enforcement Information across Jurisdictional Boundaries
Police searching an apartment obtain handwritten notes in a foreign language, an apparent ledger of financial transactions, fingerprints, and photos of unfamiliar graffiti on the apartment walls. This information is digitized and posted to the appropriate law enforcement information sharing exchange. On receiving a notification of the posting, an investigator then translates and interprets the documents and photos, analyzes the materials, and correlates the information with other relevant information obtained from various law enforcement organizations at the Federal, state, local, and tribal levels.
RFI Scenario 6. Possible Forged Identity
A credit card company discovers that a series of accounts were fraudulently established. The credit card company must notify these victims. The victims in turn must notify all pertinent organizations with which they have a financial relationship, including all governmental agencies from which they currently or potentially receive services.
RFI Scenario 7. Citizen looking for all online government information regarding a unique topic
A citizen is searching for all available Federal Government information about a particular topic including information located on government websites. A successful search will help her avoid using the complex, lengthy, and potentially costly Freedom of Information Act process. There is no way to know in advance what any single individual citizen may be interested in but invariably the same, similar, or related government information is located at more than one Federal agency and comes in various types of online information. Some of these information resources are "deep web" or "hidden web" assets, not easily accessible from typical Internet search engines.