Netgov.com joins e-fray

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...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.

Netgov also 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 is based on its leaders' 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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