THE 50 STATES<@VM>THE 50 STATES: Maryland to Wyoming

What's up in your agency?

For governments east of the Mississippi, call 301-650-2145 or e-mail [email protected]. For those west, call 301-650-2145 or e-mail [email protected].


A TAXING EXPERIENCE. The state has joined with NationTax Online of Birmingham to provide an online tax filing and payment system for businesses.

The service, at, costs the state nothing, but business taxpayers pay transaction fees to use it. The state has 453 tax filing jurisdictions.

The service requires a Web browser and Internet connection. Businesses outside the state can access the service to file Alabama sales and use taxes.


TRIBAL ALLIANCE. Gov. Tony Knowles recently launched a Web site for the State-Tribal Relations Team, a group of state and tribal representatives that wants to strengthen the relationship between state officials and tribal leaders.

The site at lists the team's mission, members, news and meetings.


VALENTINE'S DAY. Valentine Elementary District in Truxton, population 120, received a Technology Literacy Challenge Fund grant from the Arizona Education Department.

The one-school district used the $5,000 grant to connect its 14 Macintosh PCs to the Internet using a modem, said Noel Becker, the school district's secretary-bookkeeper.


CYBERNURSES. The State Board of Nursing has put its license renewal system on the Web. Since July, 448 nurses have renewed their nursing licenses using the site at

Nurses enter their license numbers, birth dates and Social Security numbers into a form, which is protected with Secure Sockets Layer encryption. The information is stored in an Informix 4GL for Windows database from Informix Corp. of Menlo Park, Calif.


GREEN MEANS GO. Officials at Los Angeles County's Metropolitan Transportation Authority adopted technology that causes green lights to stay green longer for some city buses.

A transmitter about the size of a hockey puck is fastened to the underside of an MTA Metro Rapid bus. The transmitter emits a low-frequency signal that is picked up by loop detectors embedded in the street. The signal is fed into a central computer, which uses software written in C by Transportation Department engineers to relay the information to a control box at the intersection.

The control box, which uses OS-9 operating system from Microware Systems Corp. of Des Moines, Iowa, instructs the light to stay green long enough to allow the bus to pass through the intersection.


ERIE VISION. Erie officials awarded a contract valued at $247,970 to Systems Consultants Inc. The St. Louis company will provide the town of 35,000 with its iEnvision suite of financial software, which includes general ledger, accounts, budget and payroll modules. Erie officials also will incorporate SCI's electronic government applications on the town's Web site at


NUTMEG BYTES. Karen Kaplan has become the executive director of the state's newly created Commission for Educational Technology.

The commission will promote the use of technology in schools, set student technology competency standards and develop a technology education program for parents. It will oversee a new network that provides Internet access, voice, video and data transmission to all Connecticut schools, libraries and postsecondary institutions.

Kaplan said her goal is to not only make technology available for students, but also to get teachers to use the Internet for virtual field trips, online interaction with international students and to conduct simulated experiments.


TRUCKIN' ONLINE. The Transportation Department is issuing truck permits online using IBM's WebSphere Application Server and VisualAge for Java. The application runs on a central server with code implemented in Java servlets.

Authorized users can print permits directly from read-only Portable Docmuent Format files issued by DOT. The system enables trucking companies to purchase permits online for overweight or oversized trucks to travel specific routes through the state.


SMART WORKS. The Public Works Department has launched a system to help manage trash truck routes. The Route Optimization System from RouteSmart Technologies Inc. of Columbia, Md., uses ArcView software from Environmental Systems Research Institute of Redlands, Calif., to build route maps and schedules.

The system resides on a Dell 500-MHz Pentium III OptiPlex G1 PC with 256M of RAM and 10G of storage under Novell NetWare 4.11. It prints maps on a DesignJet 1050C Plotter from Hewlett-Packard Co.


GOING FOR BROKERS. The Banking and Finance Department has adopted an online electronic renewal system for mortgage brokers and lenders.

Gerry Harrison, finance administrator, said the state chose DMR Consulting of Edison, N.J., to develop the system.

The department developed the site using MicroCa$h for Windows, an automatic clearinghouse application developed by Bank of America.


STARSTRUCK. Savannah upgraded all of its 22 servers to Lotus Notes 5.0 from Lotus Development Corp. Thanks to the upgrade, the city was able to implement a new intranet for its 2,000 employees using Lotus Domino R5 running under Microsoft Windows NT on a Compaq ProLiant 5500 server, said Jerry Cornish, director of information technology.


NEW ECONOMY. Gov. Ben Cayetano recently signed House Bill 2901, the Technology Omnibus Bill. The bill provides tax incentives for technology companies, allows investment of state Employees Retirement System funds in Hawaiian technology companies, and appropriates an extra $800,000 to the Education Department to expand computer and online education programs.


AT EASE. Idaho hosted an all-day electronic government boot camp last month for elected officials, agency directors and information technology managers. Attendees also saw a display of Idaho's best e-government practices.


DIGITAL FIGHT. The Cook County Board and the Circuit Court Clerk's Office have continued a legal fracas over an IBM System/390 computer installed this summer at the clerk's office.

The board refused to pay for the computer that Circuit Court Clerk Aurelia Pucinski had ordered without the permission of the board, which is led by president John Stroger. Pucinski, a Republican, twice previously had sought to unseat Stroger, a Democrat.

The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that Pucinski lacked authority to buy the computer without the board's permission [GCN/State & Local, August, Page 4]. She now is challenging the board's decision to pay Real Applications Ltd. of Woodland Hills, Calif., $335,000 to lease the computer for six months.

The vendor had threatened to repossess the computer for nonpayment. Stroger says the computer would have cost $1 million under the agreement Pucinski made with Real Applications, while she says it would have cost $500,000. The Illinois Supreme Court is considering new motions in the case.


WRONGFUL DEATH. An error in St. Joseph County jail computer records is blamed for the unauthorized July 15 release of a man whom police suspect of killing three people in South Bend last month.

Phillip A. Stroud was jailed on two felony charges of dealing cocaine. He was released on $3,000 cash bond, even though a judge set his bond at $8,000.

Sheriff Richard Seniff said the department is investigating one other case in which an inmate was possibly released in error. 'We don't know yet whether it was an entry error or if it was a deliberate entry by an unauthorized person internally,' Seniff said.

The jail uses a customized application by Low & Associates of South Bend that resides on a 450-MHz Compaq Pentium III Deskpro EP/SB PC with 64M of RAM running NetWare 4.11.


HIGHLY SUGGESTIBLE. Iowa has put its employee suggestion program on its Web site at

Officials say Iowa is the first state to automate its suggestion program. The site provides a form for employees to suggest changes in state procedures. The site lets employees submit their suggestions anonymously.


FASTER FUNDS. The Social and Rehabilitation Services Department last month enhanced its legacy child support payment system with middleware developed by Tier Technologies Inc. of Walnut Creek, Calif.

County clerks will update payment information over the Web, said Jim Robertson, director of the department's Child Support Enforcement Program.

The revamped system will reduce the time it takes an employer to transfer funds to families expecting child support payments from a week to a day, department officials said.


TIME SWITCH. The Governor's Office for Technology has finished upgrading the state's data and video WAN to asynchronous transfer mode.

The network has 160 switches, including Centillion switches from Nortel Networks of Brampton, Ontario; V switches from First Virtual Corp. of Santa Clara, Calif.; and codec switches from Vtel Corp. of Austin, Texas.

The Office of Technology used an $8 million grant from the U.S. Education Department and $8 million in state funding to finance the upgrade. Nortel and Kentucky run the WAN as a public-private partnership.


DRUDGERY. The Office of Tourism has removed from its Web site invitations to visit the Drudge Report site, at, as well as about 4,500 other Web sites.

Officials recently decided that the Drudge Report, a controversial site devoted to political satire and gossip, was not a suitable venue. State officials said placement of the Web ads was an oversight by the state's marketing company. Officials pulled the ads and said they will review future Web promotions in detail.


VERY SPATIAL. The Office of Geographic Information Systems is testing new spatial database management and Internet mapping software for several pilot projects.

OGIS is using Spatial Data Engine from ESRI to support a client and pro-vider application for the departments of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse.

The application helps OGIS manage and provide access to a variety of data from a central location and lets agencies access current data.MARYLAND

CLOSING THE GAP. Baltimore public schools are getting a gift of 6,000 recycled computers from the Social Security Administration. The computers are 2 to 4 years old, of various brands and models, and arrived mostly without monitors, software or operating systems. The computers came from the federal agency's headquarters in Woodlawn, Md., where new computers are being installed.

VIRTUAL LESSONS. The Education Department's Virtual Education Space design team next month will deploy a prototype of the VES educator workspace that will be available statewide. It will include a personalized portal, professional development courses, and a set of communication and collaboration tools for every teacher and administrator in Massachusetts.

VES is the commonwealth's public set of online tools and implementation strategies customized for each teacher, student and parent to let them use the standards-based curriculum to improve student achievement.

TRY BEFORE YOU BUY. The Management and Budget Department's Purchasing Office has launched MiBuy, a six-month online procurement pilot.

MiBuy relies on the eProcurement application from Epylon Corp. of San Francisco and Ariba Inc. of Miami. Michigan selected Andersen Consulting of Chicago to assist with system integration and streamlining the procurement process.

During the pilot, about 50 users from the State Department, State Police and Corrections Department will select goods from 10 suppliers' online catalogs.

SECURITY BLANKET HOLES. The Legislative Auditor Office has found flaws in the security of the Finance Department's data warehouse.

An audit of the warehouse's data integrity found that some accounts with extremely powerful security clearances have inadequate password controls. Several accounts with these security clearances were no longer needed, auditors found.

Pamela Wheelock, the Finance Department's commissioner, generally agreed with the auditors' recommendations. She said her agency would tighten security measures, in part by requiring employees to use complex passwords that they change often.

THE TAXMAN COMETH. American Management Systems Inc. of Fairfax, Va., will pay the state $185 million to settle a lawsuit over the company's contract to build an integrated tax collection system.

The state won $474.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages in a jury decision Aug. 23 in Mississippi vs. American Management Systems Inc., heard in Hinds County Circuit Court.

AMS already had received $6 million under the $11.2 million contract to overhaul the state's tax system. The company said it was on schedule to resolve disputes over the system when the Tax Commission canceled the contract and filed suit in April of last year.

The commission said AMS had not completed the software needed to collect any of the state's 36 taxes after 64 months of work, though the company had promised it would build all the systems in 36 months.

AMS will continue work on other proj-ects in Mississippi (see story, Page 1).

GIMME SHELTER. The state's court system may soon expand a program that lets residents of shelters for abused adults apply for protective orders while at the shelters.

The program has been available at three shelters in the Kansas City area since January of last year. During the last nine months, shelter residents have filed 131 requests for protective orders and received 82.

The system uses an application called Quickfile, written by specialists at the Office of the State Courts Administrator. Quickfile runs on PCs under Microsoft Windows 98 and links to the Lotus Notes system Missouri judges use to exchange information.

Erdas Inc. of Atlanta donated its Imagine VirtualGIS mapping software to the National Lewis and Clark Education Center in Missoula, Mont. Center officials used the software to analyze the area of the 2,500-mile-long Lewis and Clark trail that was damaged by the recent wildfires.

TRAILBLAZERS. Erdas Inc. of Atlanta donated its Imagine geographic information systems software to the National Lewis and Clark Education Center to help it analyze fire damage along the trail.

Montana's Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commission officials also will use the digital mapping software to prepare for an extra 9 million visitors expected to visit the trail during the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition in 2003.

OUTTA SITE. Gov. Mike Johanns recently introduced a revamped state Web portal at that was developed by Nebraska Online, a Lincoln Web development company.

Created in Fireworks Version 3.0 from Macromedia Inc. of San Francisco, the new site features a key word search engine that can access about 100,000 state government Web pages. The site simplifies some of the most popular requests. For example, citizens need look no further than the main Web page to find out how to order and pay for a birth certificate.

SOOTHING SERVERS. Nevada's computer systems became overloaded this summer, said Terry Savage, director of the Information Technology Department.

State officials loaded too much data onto an IBM 9672-R34 enterprise server that handled Motor Vehicle Department processing, the executive budget system and state employment system.

Savage and his team added another CPU, the IBM 9672-R46 enterprise server, and soon the mainframes 'were humming like kittens,' Savage said. The department recently added a few IBM RS/6000 servers.

DISCONNECTED. Four of five school districts that were given a $135,000 grant last year for distance-learning programs can no longer use the equipment they bought due to high connectivity costs.

The grant paid for five PictureTel Venue 2000-50 videoconferencing systems from PictureTel Corp. of Andover, Mass., and one year of asynchronous transfer mode connection from Verizon Communications of New York.

Rollinsford, Somersworth, Rochester and Portsmouth districts cut connectivity from their budgets this year because of Verizon's $1,300 monthly ATM charge.

Linda Smart, Dover School District distance-learning program coordinator, said district officials there hid the connectivity expense in their budget so the board would not cut it.

SYSTEMS SCHOLARS. Pemberton Township eighth-grade students at Helen A. Fort Middle School are conducting flight simulations, experimenting with robotics, creating animation and working with computer-aided design.

The school bought $127,000 worth of equipment for a workstation technology center, including 13 Dell OptiPlex Pentium III 600-MHz PCs with 128M of RAM.

Kathy Bernacki, coordinator for the lab, said students take six-week courses in technology applications that students at other schools have to wait until high school or college to tackle.

DOUBLE TROUBLE. Albuquerque City Council member Hess Yntema last month introduced a bill that would give residents access to millions of financial records on the city's intranet, which is now accessible only to city employees.

Clint Hubbard, the city's chief information officer, cautions that this would be expensive. 'We'd have to duplicate all the software and hardware we use, including the Cisco firewalls,' Hubbard said.

For example, city employees use CognoSuite online analytical processing tools from Cognos Corp. of Burlington, Mass., to analyze data from about 3.5 million financial transactions on the intranet. Making that application available on the Web would cost $200,000 in licensing fees alone, Hubbard said.

FILL IT UP. Westchester County's Consumer Protection Department has developed a Web page that shows consumers where they can buy the lowest-priced gasoline in the county.

Consumers can search the site at by ZIP code or municipality. The site also contains a price survey based on information compiled by department inspectors who visit area gas stations monthly.

The site also includes information on stations that offer gas price specials.

TARHEEL PROMOTION. Michael Fenton is the new chief technology officer for the Office of Information Technology Services, in charge of managing the state's technical assets and overseeing electronic government. He joined ITS in June as the deputy chief technology officer.

Fenton plans a common payment engine for the state. 'If one agency needs a credit card application built, and so does another, there is no sense in having more than one when we can build one good engine that can be given to the various agencies as a plug-in,' Fenton said. 'It might cost a little more up front and take more work, but it will pay off when we have a good general model for everyone.'

GIMME AN E. The Procurement Office recently released a request for proposals for an electronic procurement system.

The goal of the e-procurement system is to consolidate all of the state's purchasing into one database, said procurement officer Sherry Neas. Bids are due Nov. 6, she said.

LAWMAKERS ONLINE. Notebook computers are on the floor of the House of Representatives for the first time.

Legislators are using Dell 500-MHz Pentium III PCs with 192M of RAM running Microsoft Office 2000 Professional under Windows 2000.

Joe Turbett, Legislature management information systems director, said 54 lawmakers are testing the computers; on Jan. 1, all 99 members of the House will have a notebook PC.

House members will also receive computer training beginning Nov. 26.

'The average age of our legislators is about 60 years old, and some of them have never worked with a computer or laptop,' Turbett said. 'Plus, we need to train them about what on their computers is public information and what isn't.'

While on the floor, House members can access bills, analyses, constituent information, fiscal notes and other data from the Legislature's cluster network, which comprises six Compaq DL 380 servers with 1.2T of storage.

JUMPIN' JUKEBOX. The Oklahoma State Insurance Fund has transferred its paperwork to an optical storage system from Plasmon Data Inc. of Eden Prairie, Minn.

SIF loaded the documents onto Plasmon's LD 6100 12-inch dual head optical drives, which each hold up to 12G of data. The jukebox system offers 100 millisecond access time and 2.7-megabytes/sec data transfer rates. Claims representatives now can call up a case file within 15 seconds, SIF officials said.

DOTING ON VOTING. In the 1996 general election, Oregon ranked 10th in voter turnout, 'but we can do better,' said Secretary of State Bill Bradbury. He dedicated a Web site to voter outreach, Webmaster and voter outreach coordinator Amy Cody built the site in Netscape Composer.

This year, Oregon voters will not pull a lever in a polling booth. Instead, they will participate in the nation's first all mail-in general election. Some analysts expect this will increase voter turnout by 6 percent, Cody said.

Linda Rosenberg, director of Pennsylvania's Justice Network, plans to expand the network to all 67 counties in the state.

CYBER COP. Linda Rosenberg is the new director of the Justice Network, the commonwealth's integrated criminal justice system. JNET is an intranet that connects the electronic databases of the state's criminal justice organizations. Approved employees, such as state police officers, can access the system with digital authorization certificates.

Rosenberg's goal is to expand JNET to all 67 counties as well as to municipal criminal justice agencies. Only 14 counties now participate in JNET.

ELECTION BUNGLE. The Elections Board's two Web sites both fumbled reporting results of the Sept. 12 primary election. An outsourced site at boasts live election results, but by late afternoon the day after the primary, it still showed only unofficial results.

The board outsourced services for one site to Universe Central Corp. of Boardman, Ohio, which subcontracted design and hosting to Cboss Communications Network Inc., also of Boardman.

Aaron Lego, government service manager for Cboss, denied there are any problems with the site and passed the buck to state officials. Robert J. Fontaine, Elections executive director, said election night results on the outsourced site were delayed only by about 15 to 20 minutes.

But Beverly Chase, Elections Board webmaster of, confirmed the lengthy delays at the outsourced site. Chase said her site also was unable to post results quickly because the board did not release properly formatted information to her until Sept. 15. For the state's Web site, Chase used Microsoft FrontPage 98 running under Windows 98.

ROBOCOP. A hazardous-duty robot known as Little Al was the highlight of the Charleston County Sheriff's Department Law Enforcement Day last month. The Andros 6A from Remote Tech of Oak Ridge, Tenn., is used for hostage negotiations, surveillance, bomb detonation, and in any situation requiring a nonlethal way to subdue a suspect.

Stafford Melerine, explosives response team commander, said the 3-foot-high, 382-pound, $120,000 robot can climb stairs, send visual and audio communications through mounted cameras and speakers and extend its arms up to six feet.

ON A QWEST. The Stanley County School Board held its first digital meeting this month via the state's educational intranet, the Digital Dakota Network (DDN). Qwest Communications International Inc. of Denver has donated $17 million worth of network and videoconferencing equipment to support DDN. The school board met over DDN's two-way videoconferencing system with members who live 35 miles from the board's main building in Fort Pierre.

DEAD-END JOB. The Corrections Department has a computer job training program for an unusual group of state employees: two dozen of the 95 inmates on death row. The state provides piecework wages for the data entry jobs after a training period. The data entry facility is at Nashville's Riverbend Maximum Security Institution, one of three prisons with convicts under death sentences.

Corrections Department spokesman Steve Hayes said the computer jobs 'give them something to do and prepare them for life in the general population.'

Hayes said the convicts use dumb terminals to enter data for state agencies, with 'no contact with the outside world.'

RELAX AND REGISTER. Harris County late last month unveiled its online vehicle registration system. Residents of the greater Houston area county will be able to renew their registration with a credit card on the Web at

GOOD NIGHT, MOON. Utah's chief information officer, David Moon, left Sept. 1 to help launch a local venture capital company. He had shepherded Utah through the year 2000 rollover and also helped launch e-Utah, the state's electronic government portal.

The position was Moon's first job in the state government. Previously, Moon had been vice president of development at Novell Inc. Gov. Michael Leavitt has yet to name a successor to Moon.

JUST ONE. The state is replacing 10 legacy e-mail systems with Microsoft Corp.'s Exchange 5.5 and Outlook 98 for its 15,000 users. Just over one-third of the users now use the new software.

The applications run on a group of servers from Compaq Computer Corp. that are configured for load balancing and workgroup optimization, said Bill Laferriere, communications and information technology director.

For its inbound/outbound e-mail message routing and database access, the state uses two 300-MHz Compaq ProLiant 1600 Pentium II servers with 512M of RAM and 4.3G of storage. For message storage, the state uses two 300-MHz ProLiant 1600s with 512M of RAM and 18G of storage. For Web access, the state uses two 150-MHz ProLiant 300s with 80M of RAM and 4G of storage.

CAREER KILLER. Peter R. Kolakowski, Transportation Department assistant commissioner for research and technology, has resigned in the wake of a project that went awry. An internal audit discovered that Woodside Summit Group of Pleasanton, Calif., charged VDOT $42 million for work the company couldn't prove it performed and repeatedly double-billed the state.

VDOT hired the company in 1996 under a six-year contract to set up a records management system. The department dropped the contractor following the auditor's report and the project is not finished. The auditors discovered that the company billed the state for 504 hours of work purportedly performed by professional engineers that was actually conducted by inexperienced summer interns. The audit said the company sometimes charged $177 per hour for work by its engineers when department guidelines suggested an hourly rate of $100.

HIT OR MYTHS. Online investing Web sites have grabbed a lot of attention with costly ads. The Digital State's own investment education Web site,, has logged 10 million visits in less than nine months with no money spent on advertising, state officials said.

The site offers cautious advice to novice online investors. For example, visitors can learn the four most common myths about online trading, such as Myth 1: 'I'm going to make a killing investing online. The TV commercials show that ANYONE can get rich quick!'

The Investing Online Resource Center of Washington's Financial Institutions Department's Securities Division worked with the Hastings Group of Arlington, Va., to design the site.

BACK TO SCHOOL. The state is contracting with IBM Corp. for hardware and instructional software for its K-6 Basic Slikks/Computer Education Program. The contract provides for classroom PCs, two servers, customized educational software, network cabling and electronics, technical support, teacher training and onsite assistance.

Schools will be using 677-MHz IBM NetVista A40 thin clients with 128M of RAM and 10.1G hard drives. The state government has two options for its servers: a 600-MHz Pentium III IBM 3000 with128M of RAM and 18.2G of storage, or a 550-MHz Pentium III Xeon IBM 7100 with 256M of RAM and 18.2G of storage.

STUDENT POWER. The Waukesha School District faces additional costs of $6.2 million to provide sufficient electrical power for planned classroom computers in its 23 schools.

The school district plans to install five computers in each of its classrooms by 2004, and had budgeted about $20 million for the task three years ago. Since then, the school district has reduced some hardware and personnel costs. The current estimate of the project's total cost, including the unexpected electrical expense, is $21 million.

The school district expects to install some 2,700 PCs from Omni Tech Corp. of Pewaukee, Wis., for use by its student body of more than 12,500.

SECURITY CHECK. The Administration and Information Department's Information Technology Division last month awarded a contract to GartnerGroup Inc. valued at $49,500. The Stamford, Conn., consulting company will assess the security of the division's systems.


  • Records management: Look beyond the NARA mandates

    Pandemic tests electronic records management

    Between the rush enable more virtual collaboration, stalled digitization of archived records and managing records that reside in datasets, records management executives are sorting through new challenges.

  • boy learning at home (Travelpixs/

    Tucson’s community wireless bridges the digital divide

    The city built cell sites at government-owned facilities such as fire departments and libraries that were already connected to Tucson’s existing fiber backbone.

Stay Connected