IBM unveils portal offering for state and local governments

Drawing on its experience in the commercial sector, IBM Corp. announced Wednesday that it is pulling together products and services in electronic commerce, security and privacy to support the development of World Wide Web portals by state and local governments.

Web portals serve as a single online gateway to myriad online services, providing access to information and transactions within a few mouse clicks ["A Gateway to Government," civic.com, January 2000].

"Governments are just now beginning to realize how agencies can [use portals to] tie their work together and simplify transactions for the customer," said Todd Ramsey, IBM's general manager of global government industry. "They are going to move through that stage more rapidly than they anticipate."

Ramsey said IBM's portal strategy is designed to let governments begin with a simple set of services and then add more complex offerings when they are ready and their customers demand it. The idea of starting small but thinking big is reflected in the technology.

"We use a more robust, comprehensive infrastructure that gives [the customer] the capability of adding services as rapidly as they want, without having to redo a lot," Ramsey said.

IBM is working with North Carolina on a comprehensive government portal that should be operational in a few months, and has a similar project in Manitoba, Canada, and smaller projects in Washington, Maryland, Iowa, California.

"There's a wide range of things people are going to want to do as they get more sophisticated in their knowledge," and IBM will be there to accommodate those needs, Ramsey said.

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