If you've ever been to one of my sessions, you know I invariably talk about the importance of knowing what you want from your elected officials and asking for something specific. A few state governments are about to make this a whole lot easier.
Reuter's reports that Arizona, California, Utah and Virgina are partnering with Google to improve their search mechanisms in an effort to make it easier for citizens to search to hard-to-find public information on state sites. Believe it or not, many governments have TONS of information available on their websites. However, many "open disclosure" advocates argue that since the information is nearly impossible to find, it might as well not even be there.
The interesting thing about this approach is its alturistic nature -- Google isn't charging the states anything for the use of their tools. In addition, the states aren't having to pay to change their infrastructure at all.
Of course, it's not all about better service to the public. This partnership offers great advertising opportunities for Google while at the same time ensuring that the state governments are at least making the appearance of being more responsive to the needs of citizens. It seems like a "win-win" for everyone -- except those "other" search engines...