Cathey Daniels, (865) 576-9539

December 18, 2007

OSTI cited as Web site "on the right track"

Oak Ridge, TN - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) continues to ensure ready access to the results of research and development from DOE, federal government science agencies, and international scientific databases. OSTI was recently cited as one of five federal government Web sites "on the right track" by OMB Watch, a nonprofit government watchdog organization located in Washington, DC. The report, Hiding in Plain Sight: Why Important Government Information Cannot Be Found through Commercial Search Engines, was released December 11 and spotlights the gap in accessibility of government information.

However, the report notes that five government sites have taken crucial steps to make content more accessible to search engines and thus to the general public. The report states: "OSTI makes available the research of the Department of Energy and cites sharing this information with the American people as central to its mission. When OSTI implemented the Sitemap protocol several years ago, the increase in traffic directed to the site was immediate."

Because most science information is "hidden" in databases where commercial search engines cannot go, OSTI has pioneered methods of making government science information publicly available. One method is to write Web site code that supports use of the Sitemap Protocol. OSTI implemented this in April 2006. Since then, the traffic referred to OSTI's site by commercial search engines has greatly increased. OSTI Director Walter Warnick is quoted in the OMB Watch report: "The first day that Yahoo offered up our material for search, our traffic increased so much that we could not keep up with it." In October 2007 alone, a full 60 percent of traffic to Information Bridge, the primary Web source for DOE R&D full-text reports, was from Google referrals.

OSTI offers a suite of free Web tools and services to quickly locate science information. The DOE Science Accelerator is a portal to key DOE databases; is a portal to science information from 13 U.S. federal science agencies; and is a portal to international science databases from 17 countries. All these search tools have an easy-to-use, one-query search box as well as a page for narrowing search queries.

OSTI manages science information within the DOE Office of Science