Letter to the editor

I agree with Kevin Plexico's assertion that government agencies are reluctant to outsource their Web hosting ["The Web-hosting dilemma," Federal Computer Week, March 26, 2001]. However, those that do choose this avenue are seeing the benefits. The city of Rochester, N.Y., illustrates my point.

In February, Rochester launched the first installation of the Citizen Service Center, a Web site hosted by Xerox Corp. The e-government service allows city residents to pay parking tickets, obtain permits and pay utility bills online. Processing fees for the various services range from $1 to $3, which are paid using a credit card. These online transactions bring to light the security issues that Plexico mentioned in his article — trusting vendors with very sensitive data, such as personal information about citizens.

By utilizing Xerox, Rochester has avoided the potential security concerns that come from working with this sensitive data. The company's Citizen Service Center uses an advanced, multilayered Internet security system to protect transactions and data. Xerox servers are located in a protected facility and, for an added level of security, a user's credit card information is stored in a computer that is not connected to the Internet.

While government agencies very well may have the IT capabilities to host their own Web sites, there is a distinct advantage to outsourcing. Outsourcing allows a government agency to concentrate on its core competency — serving its citizens. The private sector allows agencies to deploy technology more efficiently, thus enabling them to become more productive.

Rochester is just one example, and as government agencies acquaint themselves with the security technologies available today, this number will grow — to the benefit of both the agencies and the citizens.

Michael Piersa
Vice president
Citizen Service Center
Xerox Corp.

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