Where would the state Web portal be without NIC?
It’s been 25 years since the company won its first contract, with its home state of Kansas, to offer government services through a website. Today, NIC dominates the market — in fact, it built more than half of all state Web portals online today.
A key piece of that success is the company’s revenue model, which asks for no up-front money from the state. Instead it finances itself by charging fees when citizens pay for things like permits and vehicle registrations.
Harry Herington has led NIC as its CEO since 2008, but he’s been involved in the company since 1995 — right as it started picking up real steam.
“They were a dial-up business, and I said, ‘You need to take what you’re doing now and take it to the World Wide Web because that’s where everyone’s going to be going,’” he said.
Herington said he sees the work as a public-service mission — in fact, he walked away from the legal profession because he saw digital government as a clear means of helping society. Attitudes have largely shifted in the public sector as well. In the past, much of government feared new technology. Now, it embraces it.
In recent years, the company has started edging into new markets. When Oregon voted in 2014 to legalize recreational marijuana use, NIC was there to offer a solution to handle the licensing of the new businesses. When Amazon started selling the Alexa digital home assistant, NIC partnered with Utah to deliver a driver’s license practice exam using the technology.
Between artificial intelligence, virtual assistants, automated driving and the ubiquity of cellphones, Herington said he thinks government is at a defining moment where it can start harnessing technology to better serve citizens.
“I’m having more fun now than ever,” Herington said.