This Month's State and Local IT Developments

E-Commerce Appointments Challenged

Congress reserved eight seats for state and local government officials on a high-profile, 19-member commission that likely will set the agenda for a national Internet tax policy. But already state and local interest groups are irked. Both the National Association of Counties and the National Conference of State Legislatures complained that only six state and local members have been appointed.

What's more, none comes from a state with no sales tax, a requirement of the Internet Tax Freedom Act establishing the panel. The commission, charged with proposing model state Internet tax legislation during a three-year Internet tax moratorium, includes Republican governors James Gilmore (Va.) and Michael O. Leavitt (Utah), Democratic Gov. Gary Locke (Wash.), Dean Andal, chairman of California's State Board of Equalization, Paul Clinton Harris Sr. from the Virginia House of Delegates and Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk.

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E-Rate Checks Mailed

The Schools and Libraries Corp. last month was poised to mail a third wave of federal Education Rate checks to schools and libraries for telecommunications services and Internet access. SLC has committed more than $148 million of the $1.9 billion

E-Rate Fund promised by the Federal Communications Commission's Universal Service Fund for schools and libraries. A list of recipients of E-Rate funding letters for each state is available at www.slcfund.org.

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Y2K Master Contract for Local Governments

Public Technology Inc. is crafting a national Year 2000 contract to help local governments assess and deal with their Year 2000 problems. "Local governments can use our contract just like a [U.S. General Services Administration] schedule to select vendors quickly and get going," said Tony Gainor, business director for PTI, which hopes to have about 40 pre-qualified vendors on the contract.

The contract will cover a variety of Year 2000 products and services for Year 2000 assessment, contingency planning and testing. PTI, the technology arm of the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties and the International City/County Management Association, aims to have the contract posted on its World Wide Web site (www.pti.nw.dc.us) by early February. PTI also plans to launch contingency planning services to help local governments fashion "what if" plans for disruptions to government services caused by Year 2000 glitches.

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Connecticut Taps EDS for $1 Billion Outsourcing Deal

Electronic Data Systems Corp. nabbed one of the most coveted state information technology prizes when Connecticut tapped the company to take over all of its computing operations. Worth more than $1 billion over seven years, the contract is the first of its kind among state governments and may set the pace for similar state and local privatization efforts.

Meanwhile, San Diego County, Calif., also moved forward on its major outsourcing project. The county planned to have a list of qualified vendors by late last month, and officials vowed to stick to a February 1999 release of a request for proposals. Orange County also is poised to release an RFP to replace its expiring contract with Lockheed Martin Corp.

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State E-Commerce Remains Slippery

PHOENIX-While many states are testing the feasibility of financial transactions over the Internet, large-scale electronic commerce remains a distant goal. Officials gathered here last month at the Conference on Electronic Commerce in the States reported that states are wrestling with how to develop the security necessary to support large-scale e-commerce programs. Also, few states have experience with electronic data interchange technology, which defines standard formats for transmitting financial information and other data.

Ultimately, the states must be able to address these challenges. "If our citizens are going to be doing business over the Internet, then state government has to be there too," said Steve Kolodney, director of the Washington Department of Information Services.

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National Crime Mapping Survey Taken

Only 13 percent of law enforcement agencies currently perform computerized crime mapping, according to a recent survey by the National Institute of Justice. But interest is growing, with 85 percent of agencies calling the technology a "valuable tool." About 2,000 agencies responded to the survey, compiled by NIJ's Crime Mapping Research Center.

"The success of crime mapping is due to law enforcement at all levels recognizing the value of spatial information as an excellent tool to drive law enforcement decision-making," said Attorney General Janet Reno, speaking at the Second Annual Crime Mapping Research Conference in Arlington, Va., where the survey was released. Reno stressed that much work needs to be done to persuade people of the direct link between crime mapping and a reduction in crime.

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