NIC to Oversee Portal for San Francisco

NIC to Oversee Portal for San Francisco

By William Welsh, Staff Writer

JUNE 12 ? National Information Consortium Inc. announced June 12 that it has signed an agreement with the city and county of San Francisco in California to build and manage an Internet portal for government services and application.

"If you think of San Francisco as a hotbed of high-technology and as one of the best wired cities in the United States, then this is certainly a strategic win for us," said Ray Coutermarsh, president of NIC Local, based in San Francisco. "If we can succeed in San Francisco and prove that we can bring one of the most sophisticated cities in the world online, we can leverage that experience and expertise in a lot of places."

The agreement between Overland Park, Kan.-based NIC and San Francisco is a two-year pilot project subject to renewal. The portal is expected to launch in July, according to company officials.

The portal is entirely self-funded through convenience fees and requires no cash investment or appropriations from the local government. Although most information and applications on the portal will be free to the public, approximately five to 10 percent of the applications will include a convenience fee.

For residents of San Francisco, the portal will allow paying traffic and parking tickets online, as well as reviewing and paying personal property taxes and searching for unclaimed property. For businesses, the portal will provide online permitting for construction, electrical, and plumbing management as well as the ability to renew licenses and pay taxes and water bills.

In establishing the portal, NIC was able to streamline its work and take advantage of experience gained from creating other e-government portals across the country, according to company officials.

"It is clearly our objective to speed the time by which we bring the portals up and manage costs [associated with] bringing up a portal and making it functional," said Coutermarsh, who noted that certain local needs in San Francisco precluded the ability to reuse some aspects of past projects. "However, we would gladly trade off our internal costs to make sure that these portals fit geographically unique requirements," he said.

NIC has partners for either application or portal agreements with 12 federal agencies, 23 states and more than 80 cities and counties.

San Francisco ranks 15th on the list of Top 100 U.S. Metro Economies and generated a gross metropolitan product of more than $98 billion in 1999, according to Standard and Poor's Corp.

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