State lines

HIPAA happy. Arkansas' Employee Benefits Division is using software from Physmark Inc. of Dallas to put health care benefits data on the Web. The division is creating a centralized system for health care enrollment for the state's 160,000 active and retired state and school district employees and their dependents.

Before the division put the system on the Web, it was a conglomeration, said George Platt, operation manager for the division. 'It was a combination of homegrown systems, much of it on paper,' he said. Now the data is stored in an Oracle9i database.

The new Web system also helped the state comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act mandate deadline of Oct. 16. Health care providers by that date should have established electronic systems for claim status tracking, remittance and eligibility.

E-buying. Massachusetts awarded BearingPoint Inc. of McLean, Va., a five-year, $4.7 million contract to provide an electronic procurement portal. BearingPoint will build an automated, self-funded portal that will replace the state's seven-year-old system, known as Comm-PASS.

The company will build an e-procurement system, provide program management services and train users. It will also provide managed services over the life of the contract. The new system will be accessible at no charge to state and local agencies.

Vendors will be able to submit bids and proposals online. Agencies also will be able to automate their document creation and management processes.

The system will be funded through subscription fees paid by vendors to access services within the new system.

Massachusetts state agencies purchase about $5.2 billion in goods and services from more than 11,000 businesses each year.

New money, new building. Illinois recently received a $9.3 million federal grant to build a new state emergency operations center.

The Homeland Security Department doled out the funding as a part of a $73.9 million program.
Illinois, whose grant was the second largest, was one of 19 states and territories to receive funding.

DHS gave states $50,000 last December to conduct initial assessments of hazards, vulnerabilities and risks to existing emergency operations centers.

The state must provide a 25 percent match to the grant in the form of state land, architectural and engineering services or cash.

Illinois must complete the new facility by April 2005. The new building will include wireless voice communications, videoconferencing capabilities and the ability for officials at the state's Radiological Emergency Assessment Center, which monitors the state's six nuclear power plants, to coordinate better with emergency management center officials.

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