Citizen is the winner in online licensing

'The myth of 'build it and they will come' is over,' said Tracy Smith, director of e-government solutions for the Virginia Information Providers Network, a subsidiary of NIC Inc. of Overland Park, Kan. VIPNet runs Virginia's Web portal at

Smith spoke at FOSE's E-Town theater about Virginia's online licensing initiatives.

Putting more business processes online is one of the priorities of the governor's strategic plan for technology released last year. It called for a 50 percent adoption rate for online business license renewal by July 1, 2004, which Smith called 'pretty aggressive.'

VIPNet also has been charged by the governor with implementing Web site standards for state agencies, including a common template that complies with usability and accessibility standards and a common look, feel and navigation.

Although Smith says some agencies have resisted the idea of a common template''You're going to tell me how to build my Web site?''they warm up to the idea when VIPNet shows them the need for better accessibility. 'They realize they are government, and they need to be as accessible as possible,' she said.

Marc Callan, director of IT for Dover, Del., also encountered resistance to e-government.

'We have some people in Dover who will come to city hall to drop off a paper utility bill,' Callan said. 'They won't even pay for a stamp, and they are supposed to pay an online convenience fee?'

'Nobody bats an eyelash when they pay shipping and handling charges from a catalog,' Smith said. 'But they balk at an online convenience fee. Why is that so different from shipping and handling?' Smith asked.

Citizens will be the big winners of e-government, Smith said. 'They're no longer held hostage to driving to government offices, during government hours.'

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.


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