Email lists taking off in Washington

Washington state has seen its subscriber base for targeted electronic communication

quadruple in size since first being introduced in April.

Using LISTSERV e-mail list management software from L-Soft International

Inc., Landover, Md., the state's Department of Information Services (DIS)

has enabled state agencies, local governments, school districts, and American

Indian tribes to reach constituents and enhance customer service.

Now, in addition to visiting the Access Washington Web portal, citizens

can request the new LISTSERV to notify them via e-mail about current events

in specific areas of government. LISTSERV allows one-way distribution of

news items such as press releases or meeting agendas, as well as ongoing

e-mail discussions among list subscribers. The Department of Ecology, for

example, sends regulatory and legal updates to 1,284 subscribers, according

to the DIS Web site.

DIS customers currently host 46 lists with more than 8,000 government

and citizen subscribers. Some lists are only for internal government audiences

and not accessible to the public, said DIS spokeswoman Ellen Langley.

The key difference between using LISTSERV and receiving unsolicited

e-mail is that people have to apply to be included on a list. "The beauty

of LISTSERV is people who want it, get it, and those who don't, don't,"

Langley said.

DIS is promoting its e-mail exchange on the state intranet, Inside Washington,

and by direct customer service calls to its customers. Host agencies, in

turn, are responsible for letting their constituents know about the opportunity

to sign up for information they want.

Much more efficient and cost-effective than mailing out notices, LISTSERV

also frees up agency staffs from managing self-created lists. With LISTSERV,

subscribers sign up or cancel service on their own, Langley said.

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