Netgov.com latest to enter e-government race

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Lining up for e-gov

Netgov.com, an electronic government company created to help facilitate

greater interaction between citizens and their state and local governments,

launched last week, joining a host of similar businesses in the increasingly

crowded e-government marketplace.

But what separates this company from its business-to-government counterparts

is that it's not proposing to create portals or dump loads of software on

agencies. Instead, Netgov.com aims to enhance municipalities' current online

capabilities and help them launch site-specific applications, said Bruce

Masterson, president and chief operating officer at Netgov.

"We want to work with local governments to brand solutions into their Web

sites," Masterson said. "We're really focused on cities and counties, with

some state plans, and we'll be making some announcements in the next two

or three weeks about agreements we've signed, and we have others in the

works."

Stephen Goldsmith, the former mayor of Indianapolis, is chairman of the

Chicago-based company, and William Lederer, who created the multimillion-dollar

Art.com e-commerce site, is the vice-chairman.

Goldsmith gained wide recognition during his two terms as mayor during the

1990s for outsourcing many government services. He established 170 separate

government functions and applied the "Yellow Pages" rule to each one.

If the government was in the same business as more than three private companies,

Goldsmith reasoned, the public sector was probably not doing it as well,

and therefore should outsource the business. According to government watchers,

Goldsmith's techniques effectively changed the way the Indianapolis government

operates.

In addition to Goldsmith's municipal leadership background, Netgov announced

the appointment of three former mayors to its advisory board: Ed Rendell

of Philadelphia, Kurt Schmoke of Baltimore and Jerry Abramson of Louisville,

Ky.

Netgov.com's city and county focus, as opposed to the larger state and federal

deals, is based on its leadership's expertise in those areas and the high

number of transactions at the lower levels of government, said Steve Waldon,

chief technology officer at Netgov.com.

"We're a portal enabler for municipalities and are focused on those that

have high transaction rates between citizens and businesses and the government,"

Waldon said.

The company will make money though licensing fees, transaction fees or convenience

charges paid either by the governments or the constituents — or a combination

of those options.

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