Mississippi set to step up e-gov

Mississippi e-Government

After spending two years studying how best to make public services available online, Mississippi is ready to put the Web to use.

Gov. Ronnie Musgrove's Commission on Electronic Government released its recommendation this month, and information technology officials will solicit bids from companies early next year. The state will seek proposals to develop and re-brand the state portal and to provide Java Web-development tools and middleware for integrating agency systems.

"One thing we haven't done is just jump out there and make a quick agreement with a vendor," said Claude Johnson, director of the Strategic Services Division of the state Department of Information Technology Services. He said Mississippi is ready to act now after observing the best practices of states such as Washington, North Carolina, Georgia and Texas.

Realizing that only about a quarter of Mississippi households have Internet access, state planners say they initially plan to re-engineer government practices and Web-enable transactions with businesses.

The Commission on Electronic Government recommends helping agencies without adequate resources or skills to implement IT applications. Some professional licensing agencies, such as the board of engineering and land surveyors, have fewer than five employees.

"We want to ensure that they can provide the same type of services as the bigger agencies," Johnson said.

One way agencies will receive IT help is through training at the state's ITS Institute. "Our agencies aren't on the leading edge of Web development at all, and we're beginning to set up classes for that," Johnson said.

The Commission's e-Government timetable calls for the government to select a service provider by June 30, premiere the enhanced Mississippi Inter@active portal by Aug. 31 and feature several electronic transactions by Oct. 31.

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