December 12, 2000 By Steve Towns
"Were trying to establish ground rules for conducting e-business," said Joe T. May, co-chairman of the Science and Technology Committee within the Virginia House of Delegates. "Technology is the largest industry in the commonwealth at this point, and we believe that whats good for technology is likely to be good for the state."
Against this policy backdrop, Upson has consistently worked to erase the lines dividing state agencies and dividing state and local jurisdictions -- an issue he sees as vital to the creation of enterprise-wide electronic government. "Nobody can execute any real e-government plan unless they have consensus first, because the bureaucracy will beat you every time," he said.
Virginias Council On Technology Services (COTS) -- a policy-making group of IT leaders from state agencies, local agencies and education -- plays a key role in that effort. Upson credits COTS with raising the stature of agency CIOs and creating broad support for interagency and intergovernmental undertakings. "Weve been able to execute where its been difficult for any government to execute before because weve been very deliberate in building that buy-in," he said.
For example, Upsons office is putting the final touches on a seat management contract that will reach an estimated 60,000 desktops in state agencies, local governments and educational institutions. The state also intends to issue RFPs early next year for an enterprise-wide, digital-signature solution that will be available to all levels of government.
The commonwealths Department of Motor Vehicles offers a glimpse of where Virginia e-government is headed. The agency offers all major citizen-to-government transactions online, was an early adopter of a contract to procure desktop computing resources on a per-seat basis and is now forging links with one of Virginias largest counties to create an integrated state and local network of e-government kiosks.
CIO Cheryl Clark said the DMV benefits from a series of forward-thinking IT decisions, including the choice of a seat management-style computing contract. "We decided early on that we wanted to push PCs out to all of our employees and provide training, management and regular replenishment of those resources to keep everything up to date," she said. "Most other organizations in government havent been able to do that, and we did that about six years ago."
Putting modern, Internet-connected PCs on the desks of all DMV employees laid a foundation for the agencys e-government efforts, which include what Clark says is the nations first online drivers license renewal application. Another key to that effort was the DMVs adoption several years ago of a digitized drivers license system that allows the agency to easily reproduce earlier driver photos for licenses renewed online.
With little marketing or publicity, online drivers license renewals quickly became the agencys most popular Web offering, Clark said. Introduced last December, the application currently processes about 12 percent of Virginias drivers license renewals, and Clark predicts the number may reach 20 percent by the end of the commonwealths fiscal year in June 2001.
Innovations like these have garnered both local and national attention. Last year, Gilmore presented the DMV with his Governors Technology Award in recognition of its technical advances. This year, the agency captured Government Technologys Best of the Web award and the Massachusetts Institute of Technologys e-Citizen award, both of which honor agency efforts to implement online citizen services.
"The DMV is moving light years beyond the old, conventional government service models," said Gilmore when the MIT award was released.
Indeed, the agency has taken an unconventional approach to several e-government issues, including the debate over levying extra charges on electronic services. Where agencies in some states add a "convenience fee" to Web transactions,
You may use or reference this story with attribution and a link to