Iowa to accept Web ads

The state hopes money from advertisers will make up for a big cut in the e-government budget

Iowa is joining a handful of cities and states that allow advertisements on government Web pages.

The state is negotiating with govAds, a subsidiary of eGovNet Inc., to allow the company to sell ads on agency sites within the state's portal (www.state.ia.us).

Dan Combs, director of the Office of Digital Government in Iowa's Information Technology Department, said Iowa and govAds are discussing a yearly contract with a clause that would allow either party to end the relationship. Combs said that Iowa would keep 60 percent of revenue while govAds got the other 40 percent.

The Iowa legislature approved a measure earlier in the year to allow the ads to make up for a decreased budget for e-government projects. In its past session, the legislature cut the e-government projects budget 50 percent.

Combs said state officials have discussed accepting advertisements for more than a year, so the move was not only a fix for budget cuts. "But the issue has become much more poignant since then," he said.

Iowa officials will decide which Web sites will be eligible for sponsorship and will work closely with govAds to ensure that appropriate industries and products are paired with those sites, Combs said. For example, a John Deere ad could be on the Department of Agriculture's site, or an ad for a car could be on the Department of Transportation's site.

The state does not yet have a list of vendors that will buy advertisements or agencies that will place them on their sites. Combs said it is up to individual departments to decide if they want to sell ads. He said the departments of Natural Resources and Economic Development have expressed interest.

Massachusetts' Commonwealth Procurement Access and Solicitation System, or Comm-PASS ({http://comm-pass.com}comm-pass.com), has had ads on its site since the summer of 2000. XO Communications Inc., Getronics and Central Reprographics are among the vendors advertised.

When users click on an ad, they see a disclaimer saying: "The Commonwealth of Massachusetts does not endorse the following linked Web site and is not responsible for any of its content, representations or errors contained therein."

Several cities, including Honolulu and Salt Lake City, also allow ads on their sites.

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