State lines

Tax hunt. Arlington County, Va., uses some high-tech and low-tech tactics to get delinquent taxpayers to ante up.

'You know those 'Find your classmate' Web sites? We use them to find tax debtors,' said Mike Longhi, deputy treasurer for compliance for the Office of the Treasurer. Longhi spoke earlier this month at the FOSE government systems trade show in Washington.

Before the advent of the Internet, a skip-trace search for an individual would cost between $5 and $7. But recently Longhi's staff tested their own names on a Web site that offered skip-trace searches for 30 cents.

'It found the address where I lived in college,' Longhi said. 'And I graduated in 1983.'
Longhi also expressed concern about stovepiped systems that sometimes impede the flow of revenue between state, local and federal tax systems.

Tax delinquencies in Arlington County are a low 1.62 percent, he said.

Getting e-gov right. '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 www.vipnet.org.

Virginia Gov. Mark Warner wants VIPNet to implement Web site standards for state agencies, including a common template that complies with usability and accessibility standards.

Although Smith says some agencies have resisted the idea of a common template, 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 met 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?'

Congressman honored. The National Association of State Chief Information Officers has picked Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) to receive the group's inaugural National Technology Champion Award. The award was given to Davis this month during NASCIO's midyear conference in Pittsburgh.

In presenting the award to Davis, the group cited his work in advancing the case for enterprise IT architecture, encouraging the reform of unwieldy federal IT funding policies and fighting to bring a unified focus on e-government to Washington.

In the last two years, Davis successfully pushed several bills through Congress, including the Digital Tech Corps Act, the E-Gov Act of 2002, the Federal Security Information Act and the Critical Infrastructure Information Act.

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