States proceeding with portals

More states continue to revamp their Web sites, making it easier for people to access basic services online.

In the past few weeks, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Ohio and Michigan have announced new sites focused on customers. The states are streamlining operations, simplifying procedures and cutting costs, all while expanding online services.

One key is organizing information by task rather than by agency, enabling users to click on a single link to find all the relevant information regarding filing taxes or starting a business, for example, said Val Asbedian, director of the Strategic Planning Group within Massachusetts' Information Technology Division.

"We want to be seen as a significant player in the world of e-government, and we want to make our e-government operations intention-based," said Asbedian, whose state's new Web site is Mass.gov (www.mass.gov). "We want people to look at this and say "I want to live in Massachusetts because they make things easier to do there.'"

Tennessee's new site, TennesseeAnytime (www.tennesseeanytime.org), also boasts one-stop access to government services. Such flexibility has results, said Debra Luling, general manager of TennesseeAnytime. As an example, she said that since online driver's license renewal was introduced last October, about 12,000 users have applied via the portal.

Future plans for the Tennessee site include online occupational licensing for more than 90 health care professions and an interactive motor vehicle record search capability.

Ohio's new Web portal (www.ohio.gov) plans to further simplify services by enabling constituents to customize the site to fit their needs and interests. Other states, including Delaware and North Carolina, offer similar personalization ability on their Web sites.

Michigan plans to introduce its portal this July, designed with a format to be used by all state agency Web sites.

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