Tampa portal pays its own way
- By Nicholas Morehead
- Apr 20, 2001
Tampa, Fla., has redesigned its Web site to offer wider access to government
services, and the city didn't have to spend any money to do it.
As a growing number of states convert their Web sites to portals, Tampa
is bringing such efforts to the city level, expanding and simplifying the
services it offers online via TampaGov (www.tampagov.com).
But Tampa's site is different, said Steve Cantler, project director
of the city's management and information services. "A portal is really just
a big link list," Cantler said. "What we wanted to do here was create a
straightforward means with which to bring services to citizens and businesses
and with a comprehensive and consistent view, regardless of what service
or application was being used."
The site allows citizens to search and request copies of police accident
and incident reports. The site also features city employment listings, a
tax-receipt search program for businesses and real-time Webcasts of the
city's cable programming.
The city contracted with Florida Local Interactive, a subsidiary of
e-government firm NIC, to oversee the site's redesign.
"One of the things we bring to the table is a company that is locally
based, staffed and located," said Mukesh Patel, president of Florida Local
Because the contract is transaction-based, Tampa did not pay Florida
Local Interactive or NIC for redesigning the site. Instead, the company
gets paid when residents or businesses use the site to perform an online
transaction. A convenience fee is charged to the customer using the service.
So while tapping in to the local cable station online might not cost
anything, users would be charged a small fee for using the site to, for
example, pay a parking ticket. "We wanted to stimulate the revenue-generating
aspects of the site and use that to fund the nonrevenue-generating aspects,"
Patel said. In the coming months, the city plans to develop electronic payment
services for parking tickets and utility bills, online business licenses
and building permits, and even online monthly reservations for city-owned
lots and garages.
The site, and the business model on which it is based, seem to be working.
Neighboring Hillsborough County and the city of St. Petersburg are looking
into similar models for their sites.