NIC offers Web-in-a-Box for state agencies

State of Oklahoma Web site

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The company that runs Oklahoma's online portal wants to sell a simple, cost-effective solution that would help smaller state agencies get a Web presence.

"We got to noticing that quite a few agencies didn't have a site at all, or, as we were visiting those sites, the content was quite ancient," said Andy Lashley, marketing associate at YourOklahoma, the state's official portal. YourWIB, a new Web-in-a-box service developed by YourOklahoma, allows agency officials to create pages without knowledge of HTML or programming.

The state contracted with NIC Oklahoma, managed by NIC Inc., to create the portal.

With YourWIB, agencies can choose to pay either a one-time $250 setup fee plus $65 monthly to host the site or a one-time $500 setup fee and $40 per month. The price difference does not reflect different levels of service, he said. Officials can get their site out in a day once they are approved and set up.

"With the core product, it's strictly static information," Lashley said. "We do offer additional capabilities. We can build a search engine or a credit card module, customize content pages and add graphics. All those possibilities are there [at extra cost]. Right now, we don't have a good idea what they want to do in that front."

Several companies also offer applications mainly marketed toward municipalities that want to build Web sites with transactional capabilities, but Lashley said those are more involved and more expensive.

Kansas-based CivicPlus provides an application that starts at $500 for initial set up plus a monthly hosting fee as low as $50. Training is extra. For additional cost, municipalities could get job and bid postings, as well as service request forms and tracking, utility payment systems, permits, and other transactional capabilities.

A couple of consortiums also offer similar products. IBM Corp., the National League of Cities and National Association of Counties have partnered to offer a subscription-based and hosted Web development system, as did a separate initiative involving Avenet LLC, Microsoft Corp., the League of Minnesota Cities and the International City/County Management Association.

Prices of those offerings are similar in nature. For basic Web site presence, depending on a municipality's population, fees range from a $200 to $300 one-time license fee and a $20 to $49 per month hosting fee. Fees go up significantly as the population increases.

So far, the Oklahoma's Human Rights Commission and Aeronautics Commission are the first to use YourWIB, Lashley said, adding that other agencies are currently in discussions with the portal company. Lashley said he's also gotten inquiries from other state portals managed by NIC.

Chris Neff, NIC's director of integrated marketing, said the company fully intends to offer the product, which will be presented during a user meeting later this month, to its other government clients. The company manages a total of 18 state portals and eight local governments.

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