Maryland Department Weathers Paper Storm

SAN DIEGO -- Maryland's Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulations, which is responsible for issuing occupational licenses, was lost in a "paper storm" including a backlog of about 30,000 renewals, according to a department official. But that all changed after it took its renewal processes online.

Now renewals are in the mail 24 hours after being completed on the Internet, according to the associate commissioner of the department's Occupational and Professional Licensing Division.

Since February 1998, the department has completed more than 78,000 individual transactions and all but eliminated the "paper storm" caused by about 170,000 licensees and 20,000 exams given annually, said associate commissioner Harry Loleas at the National Electronic Commerce Coordinating Council conference.

Maryland was the first state to offer comprehensive operational license renewals for businesses on the Internet and was able to do so thanks to a $1.5 million grant from the state's technology fund and the support of Gov. Parris Glendening.

"Licensing is not the sexiest thing that goes on in state government," Loleas said, adding that without the support of Glendening and the regulated industries, the site could not have become a reality.

Now, more than 50 percent of the renewals are conducted at the department's Web site (www.dllr.state.md.us). About 75 percent of CPA renewals now are completed online, as are about half of plumbers and real estate agents and 20 percent of barbers.

"We're constantly refining and seeing what we can do to use the Internet to enhance communication," Loleas said.

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