government when a certain life event takes place. For example, when one moves, the person must deal with change of address forms, obtaining a new drivers license, enrolling their children in school and so on. Electronic wizards would speed the application process by filling in all redundant information, saving the user time -- lots of time.

But will state and local governments ever build one super portal for all citizens needs, enabling knowledge sharing on an enterprise scale? Some think not. Instead, the likelihood is a network of portals, according to Delphi Groups Reynolds. "In the future, there will be networks of portals developed around the functions of government," he explained. "This is known as the hyper portal, where one portal refers to another portal." Already beginning to happen in the private sector, the hyper portal is a real possibility, given the entrenched system of agency-based services in government. The trick will be to design a

portal that looks like a universal portal on the outside, but takes into consideration the existing multitude of agencies with their own services and knowledge databases. Building such a portal wont be for the faint-hearted, cautions Reynolds. "The design implications for such a portal are deep."

Tod Newcombe  |  Features Editor