Revamped Internet portal allows citizens to discover N.D.

North Dakota has joined the statewide Internet portal craze, opening "DiscoverND," which unlike most portals was not outsourced and charges no transaction fees.

Like other Internet portals, DiscoverND is organized by category instead of government organization so that people can easily find the information they need.

"We offer citizens the opportunity to use intuitive terms to work with the state without needing to know how the state government is organized," chief information officer Curt Wolfe said.

The site includes a state agency search engine, news, weather and road reports, employment listings, a children's page and online access to business-registration forms, in addition to the general category links that lead people to agencies. Those categories include education, business, employment, government, and health and safety.

The site cost $15,000 and was paid by the CIO's office, Wolfe said. Bucking a trend to contract the creation of the World Wide Web portal to the private sector and recoup the losses through transaction fees, Wolfe said he expects the department to continue to manage the site.

The "e-commerce team" that created the site decided North Dakota was equipped to handle the site and that trying to outsource the project and charge transactions fees would not be accepted because many of the state's positions are elected.

Wolfe said the site is only in its beginning stages, with more features to be added. Although vehicle registration will not be available until 2001 because the state system is being revamped, other possibilities are applications for health programs, tax forms, and hunting and fishing licenses.

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