Thought Leadership Profile | NIC
do on paper
Chief Executive Officer
Senior care centers, schools and daycare providers can now screen employees online with Arkansas’ electronic background check
system, which reduces paperwork and allows caregivers to spend more time with their residents and students.
Back to Their Roots
NIC helps agencies get back to serving constituents in an effective way.
ver the past decade, the letter “e” became ubiquitous. eGovernment’s purpose is to create a portal for more con-
Just about every industry attached the letter to its venient constituent access. Of course, prior to the Web, the
name at some point to illustrate the availability of Internet primarily was inhabited by researchers, professors
electronic services. and scientists. But even before the Web, one company was
It may surprise many people that government was one of developing eGovernment strategies. Kansas-based NIC began
the first to add the letter “e.” In fact, eGovernment has been managing eGovernment services in 1991 by offering data
around longer than the World Wide Web. The origins of hosting and text-based portals for Internet-savvy citizens.
eGovernment harken back to the days of Bulletin Boards, 300 The advent of the graphical user interface made the
baud modems and blocky green text. Internet — and eGovernment — much more accessible to
A N atural State
NIC helps Arkansas eGovernment
the citizenry. Now with 17 states already onboard, NIC is
become second nature. proving that states can build a custom-made electronic bridge
to reach their constituents — all while saving money, gener-
D oug Elkins, chief inform ation officer of Ark a nsas, ating revenue and improving overall service.
is a believer in eGovern m ent, a nd his state is proving
how effective a nd innovative it ca n be. Leveraging Modern Convenience
powerful tools from NIC h as propelled Ark a nsas onto As in government, people today are being asked to do more
the cutting edge of eGovern m ent by reconnecting with less. For citizens and businesses, this usually means getting
with citizens a nd businesses in a m ea ningful a nd more done in ever-shrinking windows of time.When the need
useful w ay. to interact with government arises, many of these constituents
“ O ur initial concept w as to offer a lot of citizen are too busy to stand in line at a service counter.
tra nsactions, but we’ve seen a big m arket in the busi- In Maine, the lobster capital of the world, those who
n ess-to-govern m e nt tra nsa ctions. B usin esses are harvest lobster for a living once could spend all day renewing
required to file a lot of things with the govern m ent professional licenses at the Department of Marine Resources —
so th at’s w here we see a large m ajority of our online taking time out of their demanding schedules.Thanks to a part-
tra nsactions,” said Elkins. nership with NIC’s Maine subsidiary, commercial fishermen of
A nd with som e of these tra nsactions, a sm all state- all kinds now instantly renew professional licenses online.
approved fee is applied. This is NIC ’s self-funded In Tennessee, where the state partnered with NIC’s Tennessee
m od el, w hic h h elps govern m e nts p ut in-d e m a n d subsidiary, citizens can skip the line at the Department of Motor
services online at no upfront cost to taxpayers. For Vehicles and go online for such services as driver’s license
exa m ple, Ark a nsas businesses ca n access a n online renewals, changes of address and duplicate license requests.
crimin al background check application before hiring Not only do constituents gain from eGovernment, but agen-
a n individu al. For hiring m a n agers, this inform ation is cies themselves benefit tremendously as well, said NIC Chief
well worth the sm all fee ch arged for the service. Executive Officer Jeff Fraser.“eGovernment makes sense to our
Ark a nsas a nd NIC also offer several innovative government partners because they are able to increase service
tools th at better the citizen-govern m ent experience. levels to constituents while generating internal efficiencies by
Recently, Elkins said, the state bega n allowing citi- reducing manual processes such as data entry. In addition, the
zens to tra nsfer funds online to incarcerated loved self-funded model allows agencies to increase their statutory
ones. “In the past, fa mily m e m bers deposited money revenue collection because it provides an easier way for busi-
into accounts,” he said. “ This offering h as been unbe- nesses and citizens to interact with government.”
lievably popular a nd adoption is very strong.” This strategy is central to NIC’s eGovernment solution. NIC’s
The state also allows online child support pay- self-funded model is based on the premise that many people,
m ents, said Elkins, adding th at the syste m provides especially businesses, are willing to pay a small transaction fee to
convenience for both the person m a king the paym ent
a nd the recipient. “A ll parties ca n check the status of
paym ent a nd the bala nce of the account online,” he “Government agencies are sw
said. “ This is the first tim e child support ca n be paid
online in our state through the convenience of credit We allow agencies to go back
cards a nd e-checks, a nd it allows both parties to be a
participa nt in a n online com m unity.” do what it is they were designe
With its NIC partnership, Ark a nsas is reaching out
a nd m a king govern m ent accessible. Elkins is proud H arry H erington
of w h at they’ve accom plished a nd said their efforts Chief Operating Officer
h ave been recognized. NIC
“In 2003, w e w ere in t h e C e n ter for D igit a l
Govern m ent’s Top 5 B est of the Web,” he said. “ NIC avoid the hassles of physically going to a government building.
states are consistently represented in the Top 10. NIC And by creating quality applications, the number of users — and
is one of the best partners we h ave in this state. thus the statutory and transaction fees — increase, creating an
They’re bringing us ideas, they’re looking at the m ar- eGovernment system that pays for itself instead of requiring tax
ket, they’re finding opportunities a nd som etim es it’s dollars from the state’s general fund.
the best we ca n do to keep up with the m.” The bottom line is that, in most cases, the only reason
people go wait in line is because a law or regulation exists that
Still in K ansas
The original eGovernment state proves
compels them to do so.“People don’t tend to go to government
offices unless they have to,” said Fraser.“There is nothing you do
there’s no place like home.
on paper with the government that can’t be done faster online.”
The history between NIC a nd the state of K a nsas is
A Tailor-Made Solution m arked by a partnership th at h as produced the para-
Despite their similarities, states are unique and individual dig m for eGovern m ent initiatives.
experiments in democracy. For this reason, a one-size-fits-all K a nsas worked with NIC to create a state Web site
know n as access K a nsas, w hich is widely regarded
as one of the best state govern m ent portals. In
K a nsas, building a n eGovern m e nt solution c a m e
from the belief th at govern m ent ought to reduce
costs, increase efficiencies a nd generate high satis-
faction levels from businesses a nd citizens.
“ O ur first a pplic ation, ye ars a go, w as with th e
u n ifor m c o m m erc i a l c o d e ( U C C ),” s a id K a n s a s
S ecretary of State Ron Thornburgh. “ Th at w as a
com monly used b a n king a pplic ation. We p artn ered
with th e K a nsas B a n kers A ssociation a nd w e w ere
a ble to turn a 10-d ay proc ess into a 10-m in ute
process. N ow 90 perce nt of our filings a nd retrievals
c a n be don e electronic ally.”
O ne benefit of eGovern m ent is the sheer a mount of
newly available tim e it creates. With more tim e avail-
able, agencies ca n get more work done, foster new
Constituents in Tennessee can now go online to obtain driver ’s license renewals,
ideas a nd execute better strategies.
changes of address and duplicate licenses from the Department of Motor Vehicles. “A ll of a sudde n, w e’ve cre ated hours a nd hours of
freed-up tim e for our e m ployees,” Thornburgh said.
solution may look good but ultimately will fail to address all “ We h a ve cre a t e d a n o p p ort u n ity for t h e m to
of a state’s needs. NIC builds solutions designed specifically for do work oth er th a n filing p a pers. It’s a success th e
each state government partner. consu m er is not going to see, but it h as a big im p a ct
“We don’t just design applications,” said NIC Chief on my a ge ncy.”
Operating Officer Harry Herington. “Most companies build a N e w busin esses c a n file th eir articles of incorpora-
solution and then take the government’s money and leave. tion onlin e a nd com plete forms for th e D ep artm e nt
NIC is focused on the long-term success of of Reve n u e, a nd th e state curre ntly is cre ating n e w
eGovernment. We identify what a govern- electronic p aym e nt m ethods. Individu als c a n also
amped. ment needs and create a solution around get various lice nses onlin e a nd register for a wide
those needs — and we only get paid when ra nge of permits.
and a service is successful and being used by Everything the state does on paper ca n be done
citizens and businesses.” better, faster a nd cheaper online, said Thornburgh.
ed for.” The result of such an approach is that NIC A nd the relationship with NIC h as been critical to the
must be creative and nimble while building success of access K a nsas. NIC ’s business model is
the best possible eGovernment solution. For w h at helped access K a nsas bring eGovern m ent into
agencies burdened by a shortage of funds and reality. The self-funded model — which applies sm all
demands for a higher level of service, a tailor- state-approved fees to certain transactions — allowed
made NIC solution may be the answer. the state to build its leading-edge eGovern m ent portal
“Government agencies are swamped,” said Herington. “We without relying on budget appropriations.
allow agencies to go back and do what it is they were designed “This h as been a great partnership with NIC,” said
for. Our centralized Web portals address the challenges of lega- Thornburgh, “a nd the self-funded model is the only
cy systems. Our solutions improve customer satisfaction.They w ay this could h ave worked in the state of K a nsas. It
save money and make money. NIC’s approach allows govern- fosters solutions th at are tailored to our needs. A nd
ment employees to focus on each agency’s core mission and by creating a true partnership, we h ave m ade this
provide quality service to the people.” thing successful.”