a number of elements designed to increase technology use in government, in private industry and among citizens.

"We're 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 what's good for technology is likely to be good for the state."

Getting Together

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.

Virginia's 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. "We've been able to execute where it's been difficult for any government to execute before because we've been very deliberate in building that buy-in," he said.

For example, Upson's 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 commonwealth's 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 Virginia's 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 haven't 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 agency's e-government efforts, which include what Clark says is the nation's first online driver's license renewal application. Another key to that effort was the DMV's adoption several years ago of a digitized driver's license system that allows the agency to easily reproduce earlier driver photos for licenses renewed online.

With little marketing or publicity, online driver's license renewals quickly became the agency's most popular Web offering, Clark said. Introduced last December, the application currently processes about 12 percent of Virginia's driver's license renewals, and Clark predicts the number may reach 20 percent by the end of the commonwealth's fiscal year in June 2001.

Innovations like these have garnered both local and national attention. Last year, Gilmore presented the DMV with his Governor's Technology Award in recognition of its technical advances. This year, the agency captured Government Technology's Best of the Web award and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's 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, the Virginia DMV gives a discount

Steve Towns, Editor Steve Towns  | 

Steve Towns is the former editor of Government Technology, and former executive editor for e.Republic Inc., publisher of GOVERNING, Government TechnologyPublic CIO and Emergency Management magazines. He has more than 20 years of writing and editing experience at newspapers and magazines, including more than 15 years of covering technology in the state and local government market. Steve now serves as the Deputy Chief Content Officer for e.Republic.