New NGA report stresses need for online permits

To spur economic development, state governments must simplify registration for small businesses through the World Wide Web, according to a new National Governor's Association report.

The report, conducted by Center for Best Practices, recommends that states create "one-stop permitting" Web sites to streamline the process of obtaining licenses and permits to open a new business. The report, released Wednesday, is the fourth in a series of reports by the NGA on the new economy.

John Thomasian, director for the Center for Best Practices, said the permitting process is to protect consumers and businesses but should not interfere with the economy.

"Government has to be effective and customer-driven at this point," Thomasian said, adding that permitting is just a piece of a larger trend. "It's about the changing culture of how you serve the customer — frankly, you should go 24/7."

The best way to do that, he said, is to create an interactive Internet portal that will guide people through various processes online. The goal for all states should be to have 90 percent of all permits conducted online.

The states that have the best interactive portals are California, Kentucky , Pennsylvania and Washington, he said.

The report found that 42 states provide information about starting a business and permits online, 16 states provide downloadable business forms and two states offer the ability to file forms online.

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