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as many forms and documents available online as possible, whether they are for fishing licenses, taxes or permits. In fact, Oakland County estimates that its 1.2 million citizens will download 2 million forms in 2008 - 1 million more forms than a year ago.

The next step to achieving the one-stop experience is making government Web portals functional and useful anytime and anywhere - on mobile devices. Chopra said this could be the horizon of the next-gen portal. He's asking himself how the availability of a GIS location code in mobile devices will change the way citizens interact with government. "Should I be able to say, 'I'm at this street corner. I want to find the nearest DMV'? Or 'I want to report a health violation. What is the easiest way? I'm at this restaurant right now. Locate this restaurant, and I want to upload a photograph that this particular restaurant has a rat.'" It's this potential that has Chopra thinking about how mobility will affect Web site design.

No matter what the future holds, Chopra said it's important for IT shops to foster a "culture of continual improvement" for their Web space, where changes are made in months instead of years. Otherwise, governments will surely be caught off guard by the next hot technology - the new YouTube or Facebook. Today's cutting-edge, next-gen portal will inevitably become tomorrow's dinosaur. Bertolini agrees.

"If you don't evolve your Web portal continually," Bertolini said, "then you will be looking at that next-gen again and you will have to rework everything you have if you're not evolving with the next technology as it comes along."

Matt Williams  |  Associate Editor