time will come.

New technologies have also been slow to catch on in other states, including Massachusetts. A number of agencies in the state are experimenting with VoIP, but the practice remains small, said Burns. Wireless solutions also attract interest, but not a lot of investment. Much more effort is aimed at back-end office operations to aid the state's Web portal and the various integrated applications. "It's kind of like peeling an onion," Burns explained. "We're changing traditional smokestack operations to make the walls between information sources more permeable. It's a huge operation."

Telecom staff workers face another task: making the services offered by telecom carriers to the agencies less complex. To dilute the risk of relying on one carrier for all network services, the Massachusetts entered into a contract with 10 vendors for statewide delivery of voice, data and cellular services. The largest telecom carrier in Massachusetts is Verizon. At one time, the services of Verizon and other companies were offered separately in the hopes that agencies could choose the best service for their needs at the best price.

But agencies were overwhelmed by the complexity of offerings, and rather than take the time to figure out the best deal, they decided to make no deals at all, Burns said. "They weren't taking advantage of what was out there," he said. So, the state amended its contract, allowing telecom firms to bundle their services rather than provide them

Tod Newcombe  |  Features Editor