Magazine article Information Today

Northern Light Technology's Usgovsearch Begins Commercial Operation with Revised Pricing Plan

Magazine article Information Today

Northern Light Technology's Usgovsearch Begins Commercial Operation with Revised Pricing Plan

Article excerpt

Paula J. Hane, co-editor with Barbara Quint for NewsBreaks, is contributing editor of Information Today. Her e-mail address is paula.hane@cwix.com.

The government information search engine from Northern Light, usgovsearch, began commercial operation on June 14, and the company has announced revised pricing plus free access for public libraries and schools. The service that was jointly developed over the past year by Northern Light Technology (NL) and the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) had been in a 3-week free-trial period after launching May 17.

At launch, there were questions raised when an article in The New York Times prompted a reaction from the Department of Commerce and some advocacy groups concerning compliance with administration policy on unrestricted access to government information. Following the various policy reviews and discussions among the private and government parties involved, a compromise was reached that appears to resolve the controversy to everyone's benefit.

Renee Edwards, public affairs director for NTIS, said that the NTIS logo has been removed from the usgovsearch page to clarify that it is an industry-developed and industry-maintained service. However, despite several newspaper reports that highlighted a loss of government support and stated that NTIS had "pulled out" of the joint venture, NTIS will continue to support Northern Light's efforts for the service. The NTIS data will continue to be made available through the service, and NTIS staff will continue to provide assistance with taxonomy for the site and identifying government sites to be included. NTIS will only receive revenue for the sale of NTIS documents through the service, not for subscriptions. Edwards noted that NL is another reseller for NTIS, like Dialog and other online services, and NTIS hopes to increase the sale of its documents through a service that makes it easy for the public to find what they need.

Susan Stearns, director of enterprise marketing for Northern Light, said that the changes make clear that this is "a .com site; a commercial operation." She added that there were still ongoing discussions as to how active NTIS would be in the marketing and sales of the service. Originally, NTIS was to handle that for government agencies and depository sites. …

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