GovHost.com joins e-government craze

With the April launch of GovHost.com, cities and counties have yet another option for moving their government services online. Launched by VC3 Inc., a systems integrator based in Columbia, S.C., GovHost.com offers a suite of 13 virtual government modules via an application service provider (ASP) business model. The services include: payment of utility bills, property taxes and traffic citations online; the ability to apply for various permits; and the option of receiving e-mail notification for current or overdue bills.

The ASP model, which is used largely by small and midsize businesses, outsources the government entity's online services to be handled by VC3 at a data center. The governments are not required to buy the software, but simply subscribe to it, said David Dunn, president and chief executive officer of VC3.

"By doing that, they lessen their need for onsite integration services, while providing an e-commerce presence," Dunn said, adding that the ASP model does not charge citizens transaction fees. "Cities don't want that extra fee charged to citizens to use the service. They want to push citizens online for cost savings down the road."

GovHost.com costs $500 to $1,000 per module per month, with most cities picking two or three. That's compared with the about $80,000 for municipalities to purchase the necessary hardware and software, plus the annual $10,000 in maintenance it would cost to host the services on their own, Dunn said.

VC3 has signed an agreement with Berryman & Henigar, a municipal professional services firm based in San Diego, making it the first value-added reseller of the GovHost.com products. B&H acts as city managers on a contract basis on behalf of its cities and about a year ago began hearing requests from its customers for continual access to government services, said Michelle Kvandal, senior vice president of the c

"The governments want to provide their constituents with online, 24-by-7 access to services, and we needed an IT partner to do it," Kvandal said. "We've already tested the idea with clients and city councils and they're using it in their platforms to try and get re-elected."

GovHost.com is targeting municipalities with populations between 2,000 and 100,000.

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