...Colorado Lays Privacy Groundwork

DENVER - Colorado, like other states, is discovering that setting consumer privacy policies can be difficult.

The state's Legislature created the Colorado Information Privacy Task Force during the 2000 legislative session. The 19-member task force was tasked with studying privacy and making recommendations to the Legislature on the best way to deal with the issue. The group met for the first time this year and quickly realized that a tremendous amount of work lies ahead.

"Privacy issues are changing now and will change in the future," said Donetta Davidson, Colorado's secretary of state and chairperson of the task force. "We've done a lot of research and heard from a lot of different people. I've learned more about privacy issues than I ever thought I would know. It's been eye-opening."

The task force is comprised of representatives from a variety of constituent groups, including state legislators; attorneys; banks/financial services; senior citizens; consumers; county clerks and recorders; health-care providers; insurance agencies; law enforcement agencies; medical and pharmaceutical entities; private investigators; and providers or collectors of personal electronic data.

Although the composition of the task force translates into many different opinions on privacy, Davidson said they are making progress.

"There's not many states that have actually adopted [privacy measures], and I think it's because they've found that it's very difficult," she said.

...States Learn to Share

DES MOINES, Iowa - State and local government IT officials in Iowa are considering sharing an electronic-payment engine recently purchased by the state's Information Technology Department.

"The state is looking for things they can do that will benefit cities and counties in Iowa," said Michael Armstrong, CIO of Des Moines. "This is one of the big ones."

Though the arrangement could save cities and counties time and money because they wouldn't have to develop their own e-payment engines, Armstrong is more interested in streamlining certain relationships.

"When you do payments, you have a number of external parties involved," he said. "You've got credit card companies; you've got automated clearinghouses; you've got banks; and, for us, that's a set of relationships that we don't have to manage. That's a real attraction."

The state is making a concerted effort to reach out to cities and counties, Armstrong noted, adding that Des Moines is an ideal test bed because of its size and because it's the state's capital.

Richard Varn, Iowa's CIO, said that if something is built for state agencies it ought to be shared with local jurisdictions, especially since people tend to identify more with their local government than with state government.

"The opportunity this presents is for enterprise resources being used to deliver government services efficiently through that local point of presence, whether it's a Web presence or a physical presence," Varn said. "We have offered to give the code [to the e-payment engine] to any Iowa government unit. [We're] just looking for opportunities where we're not stepping on local governments' toes. We're giving them a service or an opportunity to cut their costs and ramp up a little faster into electronic government."

...A Twist on Tech Funding

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota's Department of Public Safety is using a public/private partnership to help fund upgrades to the state's motor-vehicle-registration processing system.

In a deal between the department and Imagitas, a Massachusetts-based company, the department will turn over the annual mailing of approximately 4.5 million state license-tab renewal forms