California Enters Spring Training in E-Gov Competition

California Enters Spring Training in E-Gov Competition<@VM>California IT Spending: Highlights of the govenor's proposed 2000-2001 budget

Steve Nissen

By Steve LeSueur, Staff Writer

California is set to begin its first major electronic government initiatives under a new budget that includes more than $2 billion for information technology goods and services.

Democratic Gov. Gray Davis' proposed budget for 2000-2001 requests funding for a plethora of new IT projects, such as a one-stop Internet portal for companies that do business in the state, online motor vehicles registration and hundreds of millions of dollars in high-tech aid to schools and police departments.

"Government services are only a click away when the government takes advantage of the digital revolution," Davis said Jan. 20 regarding his plans to move services online.

The governor also wants to boost education by spending $200 million to complete a four-year program wiring the state's high schools, $175 million to acquire computer hardware for all schools (kindergarten through the 12th grade) and $25 million to train their teachers.

"We, too, are moving at warp speed to harness the digital revolution," said the head of the nation's most populous state. His budget was released Jan. 10 and must be approved by the state legislature, which is expected to enact budget legislation in June or July.

More than $1 billion of the planned $2 billion in IT spending will go to the private sector for a variety of products and services, such as consulting, Web applications, system maintenance, computers and networks, said Eli Cortez, the state's chief information officer.

The first major e-government effort will put the Department of Motor Vehicles online, said Steve Nissen, who heads up the governor's office for innovation in government. The California DMV registers 30 million vehicles every year and touches the lives of almost every adult in the state, making it extremely important to get this online service running as soon as possible, said Nissen.

"Everybody understands the symbolism of the DMV," said Nissen.

IBM Corp. of Armonk, N.Y., and American Management Systems Inc. of Fairfax, Va., are teaming up to provide online registration renewal by June, and the state intends to expand the online service to include first-time registration, drivers licenses and other services.

Interestingly, IBM and AMS are paying the bulk of costs for the initial service, a modest $2.1 million. The companies understand the importance of getting a foot in the door and making a good impression on the state's first important online application.

"California is a significant market, and we want to make sure that everyone understands that IBM brings key skills to the table," said Bernard Bowler, IBM's executive responsible for state and local government in California.

Another proposed project is an online service that California officials are calling a "one-stop e-business center." The idea is to create a single Internet portal where individuals and companies can go to obtain licenses and permits, pay fees and perform other transactions necessary to do business in the state.

Under the current system, more than three dozen state departments regulate business in California, said Nissen. Companies can spend considerable time and money navigating the maze of departments and Web sites to comply with regulatory requirements.

The budget requests $2.1 million this year to build a prototype e-business center, and up to $90 million over five years to complete the system.

In addition, state agencies now can restart technology projects that were put on hold last year until year 2000 issues were resolved. The governor's Y2K moratorium was lifted at a Feb. 3 meeting of department CIOs, said Cortez.

"Everyone's extremely optimistic that there's gong to be a lot more money floating around with Y2K," said John Flynn, vice president of state and local government business for Litton-PRC Inc., McLean, Va.

  Litton-PRC, whose public safety product line includes computer-aided dispatch systems, would like to capture some of the $100 million California will be providing local law enforcement agencies for advanced technology and safety equipment, said Flynn.

In addition, he would like to see some of the technology funding for schools go toward seat management initiatives in which vendors manage and maintain school computers and networks.

Another hot project in the California budget is a $26 million initiative to cut down fraud in the state's Medicaid program, called Medi-Cal. Electronic Data Systems Corp. of Plano, Texas, administers Medi-Cal claims for the state, and should be getting a large portion of the funding for the anti-fraud program, said Dick Callahan, California state executive for EDS.

EDS each week processes 3.5 million Medi-Cal claims and $200 million in payments under a seven-year, $525 million contract with the state. "Medi-Cal is one of the largest public companies in the country," said Callahan.

Just about everything involving California is done on a large scale, which makes it one of the most watched states in the nation. The state has a population of 34 million and a $1.2 trillion economy, which would place it among the top 10 countries in the world in economic output.

Cortez oversees and coordinates the activities of more than 80 CIOs and 6,500 IT professionals throughout California's departments and agencies. He said that dealing with Y2K issues helped his office get a better understanding of the various computers and systems scattered throughout the state agencies, especially the mission-critical systems.

In addition to starting a handful of online initiatives, the CIOs from the departments that have the most customers are meeting to devise a blueprint for how the state can continue moving forward with e-government. And as the state relies increasingly on the Internet, California officials intend to transform operations in government offices as well.

The state, for example, is planning to gather suggestions from the private sector for creating a DMV office of the future, so that citizens who go to the field offices will see improved services.

One of the principles driving the new vision for government, whether online or in person, is the "one-and-done philosophy," said Nissen. "A person shouldn't have to stand in more than one line or make more than one phone call or provide information more than one time."

Because its size makes IT projects considerably more complicated and difficult to develop and manage, California often is not on the forefront of new services and systems. The new DMV service for online renew of vehicle registration, for example, already has been installed by IBM in Arizona, Arkansas and Louisiana. Virginia has online renewal of drivers licenses.

Nevertheless, California officials say they are committed to transforming government and moving rapidly into the online world.

"California is a world leader in technology in the private sector," said Nissen. "Our goal in the public sector is to do the same." Education (K-12)

$364 million, which includes $175 million for computer acquisition, $25 million to train teachers to use computers and technology in the classroom, and $164 million to complete wiring of all California high schools.

Public Safety

$100 million for grants to local law enforcement agencies to purchase high-tech solutions and equipment. $25 million geared toward school safety, juvenile crime and anti-gang

One Stop E-Business Center

$2.1 million in next two years and up to $90 million over five years to create single portal where businesses can go for one-stop, online access to all agencies and forms and regulations necessary to do state business. Administered by Department of General Services.

Online Motor Vehicle Registration Renewal

IBM and American Management Systems Inc. are doing initial application, to be completed this spring.

Electronic Filing of Tax Returns

California Franchise Tax Board will provide portal site to accept tax returns via Internet directly from taxpayers. Taxpayers will not have to use commercial online tax services, but must buy commercial tax preparation software to use service.

One-Stop Web Site for Public School Construction

$5.7 million over two years for three departments to jointly develop Web site where schools, parents and others can get information about public school construction projects.

Information Technology Innovation Fund

$10 million administered by Information Technology Innovation Council to help sponsor demonstrations of new technology and applications within government.

Grants and Aid to Universities and Business

Will provide millions of dollars to support technology-related research and economic development, including $75 million over four years to launch three California Institutes for Science and Innovation campuses; $5 million to support Next Generation Internet Applications Centers examining ways to increase speed of Internet transmissions; $8 million to University of California Internet2 program, $2.1 million to encourage development of electronic commerce in rural areas; and $4.1 million to support commercial space and aerospace industries.

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