Mississippi has a hit with portal

Mississippi government portal

Since Mississippi debuted its revamped portal a year ago and added several

online transactions this summer, the state government is seeing a return

on investment through increased citizen usage.

Per month, the portal is averaging about 1.2 million page views and

about 142,000 individual user sessions, according to Craig Orgeron, emerging

technology coordinator for the state's Information Technology Services (ITS)

department. That's not bad for a state that has about 2.8 million residents,

he said.

There's even better news for the portal's first online applications.

So far, the state has processed about 2,700 driver's license renewals and

3,500 hunting and fishing licenses via online applications. And while there

are only about 1,500 architects and landscape architects in the whole state,

the portal has processed about 560 professional licenses for its Board of

Architecture, he said.

The portal — which did not have any online transactional services before

this summer — also offers online voting registration, permit applications

for the Department of Environmental Quality and a link to purchase motor

vehicle reports.

Mississippi officials are trying to get the word out about the portal

and online services, conducting a strategic outreach by speaking at organizations,

presenting sessions at high-tech conferences and even setting up a booth

at a state fair.

Orgeron said a statewide broadband network — which connects all libraries,

schools and government agencies — is helping this initiative, but the digital

divide remains a serious concern.

"One of the things we're looking at heavily is the use of interactive

voice response [IVR] technology because the latest report I saw on the Internet

showed that 90 percent of households have telephones," Orgeron said. "If

you can leverage that to provide access to government, you'd be much more

inclusive. I feel like there's going to be a big interest in IVR."

With the e-government infrastructure already in place, he said the state

needs an IVR strategic plan. Next week, the ITS department is meeting with

several agencies interested in using such a solution.

And despite grappling with revenue shortfalls, Mississippi officials

are planning to develop more applications, such as allowing employees to

view their W-2 forms and pay stubs online. Orgeron also predicted that there

would be collaboration with local governments on future e-government projects.

IBM Corp. developed the state's e-government infrastructure, which included

front-end Web-based applications linked to the state's legacy systems, for

the $5.4 million portal project. The project included redesigning the site,

developing five pilot applications and implementing IBM's Tivoli monitoring

and security software, Siebel Systems Inc.'s help desk software, and EzGov

Inc.'s payment engine software, integrated with the state's finance and

administration department.

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