State launches web site with expanded services

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(Host) Vermont has quietly launched a new state web site that will soon allow the public to register cars or buy a hunting license online. The web site was developed by a Maine company and cost the state about $230,000.

VPR’s John Dillon reports.

(Dillon) The new electronic face of state government is called It’s a sleek looking web gateway that’s designed for people who aren’t familiar with the inner workings of state bureaucracy.

Tamara Dukes is president of New England Interactive, the Maine business that developed the site. She describes the state’s new web presence as one that’s organized around topics and services. The old site simply listed government agencies:

(Dukes) “Studies show that people visit state government web sites with a very specific purpose. They’re looking for some very specific information or they’re looking to see if a service that they need is available to be done online. So what we had in mind was trying to make it easy for citizens or businesses to find the information they need quickly and easily without having to know anything about how state government is organized.”

(Dillon) New England Interactive has developed web sites for Maine, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. One of its services allows the public to renew vehicle registrations on line.

When the state contract was announced this summer, the company said the Internet registration would be available by late summer, early fall. That part of the web service isn’t quite ready yet. According to Duke, it should be soon. She says the state’s web experts wanted to thoroughly test the new Internet gateway, which she calls a web portal:

(Dukes) “Honestly, we have, I would say, we have taken our time with the portal. The portal could have probably launched some time ago. But the state wanted some really neat services and also worked very hard to get some good feedback from the state webmasters.”

(Dillon) The state will pay New England Interactive $230,000 over two years for the web redesign. The online registration feature costs another $200,000. Pat Urban, the state’s chief information officer, says the web site will make government more efficient and will save money and paperwork in the long run.

The state Fish and Wildlife Department hopes to sell hunting and fishing licenses through the site. According to Urban, other departments also want to branch out to the e-commerce world.

(Urban) “There are probably about eight departments right now that are talking with NEI right now about e-commerce applications that they’d like to put up. So we’re really excited about getting this launched and getting these other applications up, besides motor vehicle registration.”

(Dillon) In addition to the online service for vehicle registration, the state will offer a touch tone telephone feature that will allow the public to register their cars and trucks over the phone.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon.

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