GILS Evaluation--Project Description

For Immediate Release

September 26, 1996

An Evaluation of the Federal Government's Implementation of the Government Information Locator Service (GILS).

William E. Moen & Charles R. McClure
Principal Investigators

Project Abstract

The U.S. General Services Administration has awarded the University of North Texas a contract to evaluate the Federal government's implementations of the Government Information Locator Service (GILS). The study is being funded by five Federal agencies: Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Archives and Records Administration, with active support from the Office of Management and Budget. Principal Investigators William E. Moen (School of Library and Information Sciences, University of North Texas) and Charles R. McClure, Distinguished Professor (Syracuse University) will conduct the seven-month evaluation.

In December 1995, the GILS Board called for an evaluation of GILS. The evaluation by Moen and McClure will examine how GILS is assisting Federal agencies to achieve their information dissemination and information management responsibilities. A primary focus of the evaluation will be an examination of the extent to which GILS is meeting the expectations of users. In addition, the evaluation will examine agency GILS implementation activities and plans for incorporating GILS as an information management tool. The project will describe current GILS implementation experiences, identify success factors and barriers for agencies implementing GILS, and determine if improvements to the GILS policies or technical specifications are needed to make GILS a more useful tool for agency information dissemination and information resources management. The purpose of the evaluation is to provide information and lead to an understanding how:

-- GILS is serving various user groups
-- GILS is improving public access to government information
-- Agencies are progressing with their implementations
-- GILS is working as a tool for information resources management.

The GILS initiative is multi-faceted and the Principal Investigators have designed an evaluation framework that informs both data collection and data analysis and interpretation activities. The evaluation framework identifies five primary facets of GILS:

-- USERS: identification of user groups, their needs, their use, and satisfaction with GILS
-- CONTENTS: what information resources are described by GILS records and the quality, accuracy, usability, etc. of those descriptions
-- TECHNOLOGY: technical implementation details of GILS
-- POLICY: policy goals and guidelines at both government-wide and agency levels
-- STANDARDS AND RULES: utility of the standards-based approach to GILS.

Given the multi-faceted nature of the GILS initiative, the Principal Investigators have positioned the study within a qualitative, naturalistic research context. This evaluation will emphasize process over measurement, understanding and learning over hypotheses testing. The study's research design is evolutionary and relies on multiple methods of data collection and analysis. The study will result in a number of benefits that include an understanding of the extent to which GILS is serving various user communities and their satisfaction with GILS as well as the identification of success factors in agency GILS implementations to refine and improve all GILS applications. Findings and recommendations from the study will be useful to potential GILS implementors in other jurisdictions such as state and local governments. An additional benefit of the evaluation will be the promotion and awareness of GILS within the Federal government and among public users. The Principal Investigators will produce a formal report at the end of the project. The report will contain a summary of study activities, the study's findings, and recommendations to improve GILS. The final report will be available in Spring 1997.

Moen and McClure have successfully completed previous studies related to the current GILS initiative, including _The Government Information Locator Service (GILS): Expanding Research and Development on the ANSI/NISO Z39.50 Information Retrieval Standard, Final Report_. The investigators have conducted or are conducting studies concerning the evaluation of networked infrastructures, development of performance measures for the networked environment, information policy, information resources management, and information technology standards development.

The Principal Investigators will provide online information during the project through the GILS Evaluation Project web site: URL: For information about the project, visit the web site or contact: William E. Moen, School of Library and Information Sciences, University of North Texas, PO Box 13796, Denton, TX 76203. email: voice: 817-565-3563, fax: 817-565-3101.

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