Saturday, July 19, 2008

Oh, That Website's Really Not for You. How about This One Instead?

I'm always interested in government websites that tend not to be linked to the large portal sites of official agencies or otherwise publicized by the state. The Excluded Parties List System is one such example, where you can enter in the names and other information of an organization to see if the group is forbidden to do business with the U.S. government or be a stakeholder in subcontracts. A number of terrorist groups are in the database, of course, but it also contains the names of individuals who have been involved in fraud or criminal activities. It also lists alternative identities that these miscreants may assume. Many of the cases seem to involve the Department of Health and Human Services.

Another interesting example is, which describes itself as a site devoted to "telling America's story." Based on the title, I thought that it might be an archive for information gleaned from oral history, local history, or folk culture, but it is actually a site intended for audiences abroad and falls under the rubric of the nation's public diplomacy strategy. Stories are studiously politically neutral and include feel-good topics such as "space" or "the arts."

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