NC continues to fortify e-government

North Carolina has signed a statewide credit card contract that allows state agencies to use online payments for electronic transactions through the state's World Wide Web portal, NC@Your Service.

The first applications using the contracts, paying for vehicle registration renewals and State Fair tickets, will be available Sept. 1.

The Statewide E-Commerce Steering Committee also approved $4 million in "e-grants," available to state agencies to implement e-transactions. "It's to promote innovative uses of the enterprisewide technology services," said Denny Mcguire, an Information Resources Management analyst for the state.

Agencies will apply for the grants, which were approved July 27, during the next month. They will be awarded by the end of September, he said.

The state controller signed contracts with Wachovia Merchant Services to process the payments, and PaylinX to serve as the gateway between the Web site and the banking system. The volume of the transactions will determine the cost to the state.

Don Waugh, assistant state controller, estimated the state will conduct $200 million in transactions per year. For a three-year contract, a payout of 2 percent would be $12 million, he said.

A bill was passed last year that allows any state agency to use online payments. Previously, only agencies that had a retail component (such as a gift shop) legally could make online payments because they were capable of paying fees to the credit card companies through profits.

Tom Runkle, chief planning officer for Technology Services, said the state has not determined if those fees will be absorbed by the state or passed on to consumers.

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