Share and Share Alike

OMAHA, Neb. -- Officials in Omaha and Douglas County, Neb., decided it was silly for both jurisdictions to spend big bucks on separate IT systems. The two jurisdictions will instead share new financial, human resource and payroll applications as well as Internet procurement software.

"Its pretty much a 50-50 split between the city and the county," said Patrick Burke, purchasing agent of Omaha, adding that a third agency, the Public Building Commission, is also participating in the project.

The project has three phases, and officials hope to be finished by the end of June 2003, said Kathleen Hall, chief deputy clerk of the Office of the Douglas County Clerk/Comptroller.

Both Hall and Burke believe the project could be a model for other cities and counties as jurisdictions across the country search for ways to keep costs down and provide more integrated services to their residents.

"There are a lot of administrative services that could be merged if you were actually able to compare apples to apples," Hall said, noting that the planning process is helping the jurisdictions learn to speak the same language and compare similar business practices.

Hall noted that some of the systems currently in use are 20 years old, and those systems havent been updated since they were installed.

Setting New Standards

SANTA FE, N.M. -- New Mexicos Child Support Enforcement Division wanted its Child Support Web site to be different. The effort succeeded; the new site gives parents more control over their cases.

New Mexico parents can use the site to communicate electronically with Child Support Enforcement officials; deposit child-support payments directly into their bank accounts; monitor payment status and account balances; provide change-of-employer and new-address information; apply for services; review recent actions taken by the agency on their cases; authorize automatic withdrawals from their bank accounts; and provide information regarding the whereabouts of a non-custodial parent.

The site was built for the state using a component-based architecture, officials said, which allows it to work with the divisions existing legacy mainframe system.

Arkansas Surplus Online

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Arkansas joined a growing list of states that have turned to the Internet to sell surplus property.

The states Department of Finance and Administration rolled out the Arkansas online auction in mid July.

The Arkansas auction follows the same principles as eBay and other successful government auction sites in states such as Texas, Maryland, California, Oregon and Virginia. The system allows Arkansas residents to browse available state surplus, bid, and have items shipped to them.

Officials said the new system would eliminate hassles for potential buyers, who will no longer have to drive to a physical location to bid on surplus property. They hope the online auction will also save tax dollars by reducing expenses related to disposal of surplus items, reducing the cost of storage and cataloging and increasing efficiency.

The Marketing and Redistribution Division of the Office of State Procurement developed the auction site.

Oklahoma Takes A Hybrid Approach

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma signed a deal with NIC in late June, making it the 15th state to contract with the portal service provider. But while 12 of those states have struck self-funding deals with NIC, Oklahoma choose a different route, opting instead to sign a five-year contract worth approximately $1 million under whats being called a hybrid funding approach, said Christopher Neff, NICs marketing director.

Under the self-funding model, fees for certain transactions are collected and deposited into an account which then is tapped by NIC to