Michigan jumps on portal bandwagon
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Jul 16, 2001
Continuing a trend among states, Michigan is the latest to unveil a new
citizen-centric, easily navigable and customizable Internet portal, and
the state will introduce several dozen interactive functions over the coming
Stephanie Comai, director of the e-Michigan Office, said IBM Corp. developed
the portal (www.Michigan.gov) in about three months
for $3.7 million. IBM also has a two-year $3.7 million contract to host
the site, after which the state will evaluate whether to continue to outsource
the service or move it in-house.
With the portal's release, the state announced three new online services:
* A financial aid site with comprehensive information about college
* A pre-screening program to help health care and social service providers
determine a person's eligibility for such services as food stamps and Medicaid.
* A comprehensive and searchable business directory.
Comai said her office is working with other state agencies to develop
40 or more new or improved online applications in the coming year. For example,
the state is planning to develop an online application for a health program
for low-income children as well as a business tax-filing program for companies
that don't pay any taxes but must file returns. Currently, the site has
about 70 interactive services.
IBM was selected in January following a competitive bidding process
last year. Comai said the state conducted focus groups with citizens, businesses
and state employees. The portal, which is compliant with Americans with
Disabilities Act guidelines, incorporates personalization and content management
technology developed by Vignette Corp. and a search engine created by Inktomi
Comai said the big push now is to migrate existing state agency sites
to use the Vignette content management tool so information on the portal
can be updated quickly.
She said the state is aggressively marketing the site via public service
announcements and interviews with technology reporters.
Gov. John Engler created the temporary e-Michigan Office by executive
order last spring. Comai said the state constitution allows the governor
to create temporary agencies. She said although the office will be terminated
next year, there will be a transition plan in which the office's functions
would be transferred, most likely, to another department or split among