Lone e-gov portal serves state

FCW.com's Dot-Gov feature relays the success story of TexasOnline, which links state agencies, municipalities, counties, courts and universities

TexasOnline

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"Evolving doors"

In August 2000, Texas launched its official e-government site for state and local government business. TexasOnline not only reaches across the agencies of our state, it links municipalities, counties, courts and universities as well.

Since going live, TexasOnline (www.texasonline.com) has brought up dozens of applications and has processed more than $20 million in transactions. Texans can already go online to renew their driver's licenses, pay business sales taxes, and obtain oil and gas drilling permits.

These figures are particularly impressive when you consider that the use of the TexasOnline infrastructure is not mandatory for state agencies and local governments.

So why would they choose TexasOnline? From the state's perspective, the most important reasons are economies of scale, interoperability and security. That's why the Electronic Government Task Force and the Texas Department of Information Resources forged a strong partnership with the private sector, led by KPMG Consulting.

The solution offers central services and standardized components that can be reused by different agencies and governments. Participating governments have access to shared resources, including a help desk, electronic payment system, sophisticated intrusion-detection and response, marketing and other services. It's all available around the clock.

Just as important, TexasOnline's component-based technical architecture makes it easy for organizations to adapt existing components and code to meet their unique requirements. Using Java middleware, TexasOnline can easily connect diverse organizations, systems and platforms without major modifications.

Providing the level of security expected of the public sector is another major hurdle. We're convinced that the success of e-government will ultimately rest on our ability to protect the public interest and build public trust. TexasOnline therefore offers participating governments the highest levels of security and privacy possible. In this area, we have spared no cost, implementing isolated networks, multiple firewalls, continuous intrusion-detection and response, multiple levels of encryption and physical and logical segregation of services.

A University of Texas survey made it clear that Texans were opposed to funding e-government services through the sale of personal information. So unlike some other state portals, TexasOnline gathers no personal data on individuals' use of the site and does not sell or share any personal data collected while executing online services.

For state agencies and local governments, the most important feature of TexasOnline may be the ability to share services where there's value, and at the same time, personalize the applications to meet particular needs. When users click on Houston's site (www.cityofhouston.gov), they see what appears to be a separate site with its own address. Behind the scenes, however, the site operates on the TexasOnline hardware and software platform.

We will continue to work closely with our state and local governments to provide the quality and types of services that our citizens want. Please visit our site at www.texasonline.com.

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