that the concept of the Internet fits in well with Gov. Chiles' conviction that to government, communities should come first.
Lindner's group worked to get FCN off the ground, beginning with data specifically from the Department of Management Services. In the beginning, only two agencies were on the Internet with FCN, but today all 28 of Florida's agencies participate. Located at
One of the most frequently visited areas of FCN is the online job listing. According to Lindner, there are 8,000 state job vacancies listed at any given time, all searchable on an Oracle database. The Personnel Division has also put out an online training catalog that lists community colleges and private vendors that are posting opportunities for training available to state employees. "The neat part about the training catalog being online," Lindner said, "is that because so many of our state employees have Internet access, we only had to print 4,000 of these catalogs this year. In the interagency training unit, the number of employees has dropped from nine to one. This saves us about $250,000 per year. We now have 1,200 sq. ft. of space we no longer need and we've avoided $100,000 in printing costs each year. Our total cost to run the catalog is now about $20,000 per year and we have had offers from private vendors who will pay us to post their training offers in our catalog."
One of the most innovative things that Lindner has done with FCN is put Florida's purchasing information online in a subscription-based service. Each year, Florida purchases approximately $4 billion in products and services -- with cities and counties purchasing more than 60 percent of the items under the state contracts. Lindner saw FCN as a better way to connect those cites and counties with purchasing information. "Purchasing was a logical, internal, 'make government work better and cost less' kind of topic," he said. "Plus, it was in my department and I was responsible for it anyway."
Currently, the online purchasing area supports 1,200 subscribers, each paying $30 per month. Lindner believes that with the addition of subscriptions for vendors, as well as growth in the buyers area, the purchasing area on the Web will be self-funding or will break even in two years. The program has proven so innovative and successful that General Electric has approached Lindner to discuss purchasing nationally. Lindner said that GE was impressed with his system because it is so far ahead of any other government agency. "The purchasing area is one of the top three things I talk about," he remarked. "It exemplifies something Gov. Chiles believes in -- that state government needs to be more community-centered and less Tallahassee-centered."
REACHING DIVERSE COMMUNITIES
Helping state government reach out into the communities is very important in a state like Florida. Lindner said Florida actually seems to be at least three states rolled into one: South Florida is a center of international trade and business, Central Florida, the "I-4 Corridor," is the tourist area and North Florida -- from the panhandle to Jacksonville -- is "the Florida as we think about it." According to Lindner, there are even counties where the population of cows to people is 10 to one. Building a network that is useful to and reaches all of these diverse areas has been a challenge.
Currently, the urban areas are served by a router network with a fiber-optic backbone, and the government is working on creating mini-hubs so they can reach some of the more remote areas. "Even the more difficult locations with small populations need