What is USA.gov?USA.gov, formerly known as FirstGov.gov, is a streamlined Web portal that gives the searcher direct access to searchable information from the United States government, state governments, and local governments.
I'm only going to go through basic highlights of USA.gov in this article - but this should give you enough to really get started with USA.gov and find a ton of great government information.
How to Use USA.govUSA.gov is reasonably simple to use and find information in. Simply navigate to the main USA.gov home page and enter in a query to the search box in the top right hand corner.
However, I had much better luck using USA.gov's various directories - there's so much information here that I found what I was looking for faster and easier than simply doing a general search. Here's a few of the USA.gov directories:
- Government Departments and Agencies: an organizational directory of the U.S. government
- Reference Center: Somewhat of a vague name for this vast repository of information portals. Includes Libraries US Government Graphics and Photos, US Government Forms, and a ton more. Each of these information portals in turn is a gateway to more and more databases of information; it's a serious Web researcher's dream come true.
- USA.gov for Citizens: This probably would be the first place I would send most people looking for government information. Includes all the basic stuff - such as Find Government Benefits, get a US Passport, Replace Your Vital Documents, and many more.
- Business and Nonprofit Gateway: File taxes online, verify your employees' social security number, get an employer identification number, and much more.
I could go on and on-there is literally so much information here that I could write a 20 page article and still not really come close to all that is offered at USA.gov. You literally will be able to find pretty much anything you want government-wise here.
USA.gov -How To Make Your Search A Good OneIt's easy to get overwhelmed with the sheer volume of information that is presented at USA.gov. My recommendation is to figure out exactly what it is you're looking for - and use the directories (such as the ones that I've briefly profiled already in this article) to narrow down your search from the get-go.
Another suggestion is to use USA.gov's Advanced Search help page. You'll be able to frame your search with some pretty strict parameters here - a good place to go if the directories just are not helping you find what you're looking for. Use USA.gov's Search Tips to help you even more.
One of the most intriguing and helpful features I found at USA.gov was their list of Frequently Asked Questions, which is not only huge (2200 at the time of this writing) but offers a search feature. Perhaps your question was already asked and answered - this would be the place to find that out.
Last but not least, check the USA.gov Site Map to get a even bigger overview of what this search service/search engine offers. You'll see a USA.gov subscription sign up here; you can choose to be updated by email every time a particular section of USA.gov is updated.