Vermont gets a new website

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(Host) Vermont state government has a new look on the Internet.

The re-designed web site also involves a new public-private funding model. The site developer is paid through a portion of the fees that people pay for some of the on-line government services.

VPR’s John Dillon reports.

(Dillon) Anyone with an Internet connection can now click on the web site and get a fishing license, search the state libraries – or even pay a traffic fine.

Tom Murray is state commissioner of Information and Innovation.

(Murray) "We’ve got about probably 30 to 40 services on line now. Other states like Maine that use this model have 400, 500 services on line. So we’ve got a ways to go."

(Dillon) The re-designed web site is based on a self-funded model. That means that the private web site developer takes on the cost. The company then gets a cut of each financial transaction that takes place, such as a license renewal.

Murray says the model means the state pays nothing for the expanded services.

(Murray) "It’s a different model. It allows us to get out of this dilemma we’ve been of knowing we need to get more services on line but not having the resources to fund it."

(Dillon) Vermont hired a Kansas-based company called N.I.C. incorporated to develop the new web portal. The state has signed a three year contract that can be renewed for an additional three years.

N.I.C. has developed web portals for 20 states. Eighteen of those states use the self-funded model.

A company spokesman said it’s difficult to estimate the Vermont contract’s value over time. He said it depends on how many people use the site to renew licenses and do other transactions.

In some cases, the user has to pay an additional fee for the on-line convenience. Lawyers for example, are charged extra to get their licenses renewed electronically. But for many services – like extending a vehicle registration – the charge for the web developer is built in and the user pays nothing extra.

(Murray) "We look at each one of those and make sure that if it’s a service that’s just a general public service that should be free than there’s no fee associated with some of those."

(Dillon) The extra charge for attorneys didn’t seem to drive business away from the state site.

The renewal service was launched earlier this year and already about 35% of Vermont’s lawyers have renewed their license on line.

For VPR News, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.


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