Treasury Unveils Web Sites for Finance Collections

Treasury Unveils Web Sites for Finance Collections

By Jennifer Freer, Staff Writer

The Treasury Department kicked off July 25 two new electronic initiatives, Pay.gov and SLGSafe, that Treasury Deputy Secretary Stuart Eizenstat said will "make government more accessible and encourage growth of the digital economy."

Government agencies can use Pay.gov, which is slated to go live this fall, to collect fees, fines, sales, leases, donations, loans, and taxes via the Internet. The agency expects Pay.gov to see 80 million transactions totaling $125 billion each year, Treasury officials said.

Pay.gov also will help the agencies update records faster, thus providing better oversight of financial transactions. The site also helps government agencies comply with the Government Paperwork Elimination Act of 1998, which requires agencies to receive paperwork electronically by 2003.

"The site was designed because government agencies we serve were requesting an electronic portal, and legislation helped push the site forward," said Greg Till, program manager in the applied technology division with the Financial Management Service, a bureau of the Treasury Department.

Pay.gov also will enable agencies to process forms, collect payments, authenticate users and improve agency reporting, Till said.

Approximately six agencies will participate in the site's initial rollout free of charge. The names of those agencies will not be released.

The Financial Management Service will manage the Pay.gov site. FMS provides collection and payment services for various agencies and works with banks to process the forms, said Till. FMS handles more than $1 trillion a year, he said.

The second site, SLGSafe, is a secure site serving 400 banks and their state and local government customers that have $160 billion invested in special securities. It allows customers to subscribe for securities, makes changes to portfolios, redeem securities and review financial reports. SLGSafe is being rolled out over the next three years and currently has 10 banks live.

"[Treasury] can bring economies of scale to the e-commerce process and will provide services at no cost to agencies," Till said. "We see ourselves as a complement to sites [such as] Firstgov.gov."

Firstgov.gov is a site that will provide links to all government agencies and features a powerful search engine designed to allow users to search up to 500 million Web pages in a quarter second. It is expected to launch early this fall.

Joanne Connelly, vice president of consulting for Federal Sources Inc., a market research firm in McLean, Va., said the Treasury Department is a leader in e-government solutions. Although the Treasury Department is building the new electronic commerce sites in-house, Connelly said she expects government agencies to work together with private-sector companies to meet e-commerce demands.

"We'll see partnerships develop," Connelly said. "The government is outsourcing more. The private sector will take over a lot of the e-commerce work, but government will be leading the way and they will be working together."

At least one of the e-gov companies mentioned by Connelly echoed her views.

"We believe that the Treasury is going to need help," said Robert Sturm, vice president of business development for NIC Commerce of Reston, Va., a division of National Information Consortium Inc.

NIC, whose federal customers include the General Services Administration, Navy, Air Force and the Justice Department, would be interested in participating in the Pay.gov initiative, he said.

"It's a natural fit for us to work in partnership with the Treasury in the challenge they have to integrate multiple agencies' requirements," Sturm said.

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