N I C
P R O F I L E :
L E A D E R S H I P
Utah Chief Information Officer Val Oveson with employees of NIC’s Utah portal team.
NIC: Building a Self-Funded Future
T H O U G H T
One Portal at a Time
Innovative approach delivers functional, affordable and highly
successful Web portals to state and local governments.
Like many CIOs across the country, Utah chief “These are fiscally challenging times. Government
information officer Val Oveson predicts the term leaders are now faced with a strategic choice,” said
“eGovernment” will one day be archaic. Dr. Paul Taylor, chief strategy officer of the Center
“At some point, we won’t call it eGovernment for Digital Government, a national think tank and
because it will simply be business as usual,” Oveson advisory institute on information technology. “They
explained. “If we stay the course, I expect the vast can try to adapt to service demands and economic
majority of government services will be delivered challenges by following the traditional service
online in the future.” delivery model — over the counter, through the mail
For Utah and many other state and local govern- and on the phone. Or these leaders can become
ments, that “future” is already here. Throughout the proactive about using new, less expensive channels to
country, government portals and online constituent improve access and satisfy citizens and businesses.”
transactions are becoming more prevalent, and As more state and local governments seek to serve
in many locations they are absolutely vital to basic the public through the Web, one company — NIC — is
citizen- and business-government interaction. providing the expertise, skills, manpower and even
Still, the current state of the national economy has the financial facility to do so.
many governments questioning their own ability to Combining its commitment to strong partner
move toward a more digitized age. relationships with a unique self-funded model, NIC
“We never take our partners for granted, and we
always remain sensitive to their needs,” said Jeff Fraser,
NIC’s chief executive officer. “Our long-term partner-
ships are unique in government contracting and continue
to deliver outstanding value to our partners and the citi-
zens and businesses they serve.”
Indeed, Maine Secretary of State Dan Gwadosky
considers NIC just such a long-term partner.
N I C
“We have had an extraordinary relationship with
Gene Akers of the Alabama Department of Finance, with NIC,” Gwadosky said. “We like to say we’re in the
employees of NIC’s Alabama portal team.
business of democracy, and NIC is definitely helping us
in furthering that business.”
INNOVATIVE ONLINE SERVICES
P R O F I L E :
Commitment to Delivering Results
Easy Business Registration in Utah Working as a long-term partner rather than a short-term
Establishing a business in Utah is no longer a difficult vendor means NIC remains committed to making
process. In summer 2003, NIC and an intergovernmental eGovernment information and operations as functional
coalition established OneStop Business Registration. Instead and beneficial as possible.
of requiring Utah companies to file documents with up to “NIC seeks to maintain long-term relationships and,
seven different government entities, the new service inte-
in fact, we have never lost one of our self-funded partners,”
grates the registration processes for the Internal Revenue
Service, five different state agencies and several local govern-
L E A D E R S H I P
Officials in Maine <www.Maine.gov> recently renewed
ments into a single Web site. The business registration
their long-term contract with NIC and plan to add several
process now takes about an hour instead of several weeks to
complete, and more than 8,000 businesses have used the new online services over the next year.
service since it launched. “We’ve had phenomenal success with fundamentally
changing the way people in Maine enjoy government
Alabama’s Point-of-Sale Outdoor Licenses services,” said Gwadosky. “We launched 20 new services
In fall 2003, NIC teamed with the Alabama Department of over the last three years, and have had adoption rates as
Conservation & Natural Resources and Wal-Mart to build an high as 95 percent. Our portal is now very much as we once
online hunting and fishing license service. The solution envisioned it could become.”
resides on a licensing agent’s existing computer and auto- NIC’s current partner list includes Virginia, Tennessee,
mates the licensing process. More than 140,000 licenses Kansas, Oklahoma, and Indianapolis and Marion County,
were purchased at Wal-Mart stores during the first hunting Indiana. Each NIC partner provides the company with a
T H O U G H T
season, which dramatically reduced bookkeeping demands unique understanding of how to use technology to better
for licensing agents. NIC built the service at no upfront cost serve businesses and citizens.
to taxpayers, and the agency estimates it will save more than
That level of insight, paired with NIC’s portal deploy-
$200,000 annually as a result.
ment experience, fuels the self-funded model and lays
the groundwork for cutting-edge eGovernment services.
manages eGovernment portals for 16 states and
several cities and counties. As the nation’s leading Self-Funded and Built for Efficiency
provider of outsourced eGovernment Web portals, NIC Under the self-funded model, both governments and
operates Web-based solutions that serve more than 51 NIC work toward the common goal of providing online
million people across the country. services that help government communicate more
“NIC is a unique organization because our company has effectively with businesses and citizens.
a true partnership philosophy,” explained Harry In 2003, the state of Utah <www.Utah.gov> received
Herington, NIC’s chief operating officer. “We are only first place in the Center for Digital Government’s Best of
successful when our government partners are successful, the Web awards. Oveson attributes much of his state’s
and we leverage our experience to ensure that all of our online success to NIC.
state and local partners share in the benefits.” “The self-funded model includes an infusion of
resources that allows us to do things that we would
NIC: More Than a Vendor never have an opportunity to do without that source of
In a traditional business sense, NIC has the profession- funding,” said Oveson. “NIC was an instrumental part
al personnel, established techniques and proven applica- of our Best of the Web recognition last year.”
tions to design and maintain an effective government In fact, NIC’s successes include several award-winning
Web presence. But in a very nontraditional approach, state and local eGovernment portals. But beyond
NIC is dedicated to acting as a true partner to the accolades, governments partnering with NIC receive
governments it serves. other — often more tangible — benefits as well.
“We have had an extraordinary relationship with NIC. We like to say we’re in the busi-
ness of democracy, and NIC is definitely helping us in furthering that business.”
— Dan Gwadosky, secretary of state, Maine
“NIC’s self-funded model is grounded in principles thus freeing agency IT staff members for other projects.
that make for sound public policy,” said Keith Schraad, In other cases, NIC works hand-in-hand with govern-
regional manager for NIC. “The hallmarks of good ment professionals to both build and maintain portals.
government are fiscal responsibility and better access to In every instance, public officials decide the exact
information and services, and NIC’s self-funded solution nature of the relationship between NIC and the agency.
is already making this a reality in 16 states.” Although typical contracts last between three and seven
When eGovernment is funded through transaction fees years, NIC’s commitment to forming long-term partner-
— as in NIC’s self-funded model — instead of appropri- ships means engagements are flexible — and able to
ated funds, officials are more willing to claim a spot on change with partners’ needs.
technology’s leading edge, according to Schraad. “We operate as a partner that says, ‘We’re going
NIC’s locally based management structure also ensures to continue to reinvest in your operations so you can
that every new eGovernment service is implemented continually see the value we bring,’” explained Chandler.
successfully. “We customize each service to meet the The self-funded model relies on fees for a small number
unique needs of each government, and our people on of applications to sustain the eGovernment environment,
the ground make this happen,” explained Schraad. but a large proportion of the information provided
“Off-the-shelf technology will not work because no two through NIC eGovernment portals is free to the public.
governments are the same.”
This innovative approach provides businesses and Fostering Effective Governance and Cooperation
citizens with efficient online services for submitting a Since successful portals are not created in a vacuum,
Uniform Commercial Code filing, renewing a driver’s effective governance is an essential component of any
license, registering a new business, paying taxes and eGovernment initiative.
fines, renewing a professional license and completing a “We encourage the use of governing boards as a way
number of other transactions. NIC has already developed to establish policy and ensure that the best interests of
more than 1,000 unique eGovernment services that constituents and the entire government enterprise are
eliminate paperwork and shorten turnaround time, properly represented,” said Schraad. “Governing boards
which naturally lowers government’s overall cost of composed of public- and private-sector delegates are
doing business. often best positioned to ensure the portal is serving
NIC continues to find new ways for governments — and all constituents.”
their taxpayers — to save money. In early 2004, NIC and When establishing a portal, governments often consult
the Oklahoma State Treasurer introduced a system that with their peers for best practices. Governance is just
will save $600,000 per year by electronically processing one example of how NIC fosters communication and
and archiving state-issued checks. And Virginia’s online knowledge transfer between its partner governments.
unemployment benefit claim service has saved the “NIC and its partners continue to be successful
commonwealth and its taxpayers more than $2 million because we are always sharing ideas,” explained
per year since it launched in late 2002. Herington. “When a new service or eGovernment concept
is a success in one state, we bring this knowledge to our
Creating Win-Win-Win Opportunities other partners. We have implemented hundreds of new
NIC regional manager Robert Chandler said he under- online solutions across our partner base this way. State
stands why NIC’s self-funded model works so well for and local governments can also generate efficiencies and
budget-conscious governments. deliver higher levels of customer service when they
“It can’t be a losing proposition for the government or collaborate on eGovernment projects.”
constituents and still be a win for NIC,” said Chandler.
“The self-funded model just won’t work unless it’s a Driving Adoption in a Self-Funded World
win-win-win situation.” Despite the popularity of eGovernment, effective por-
In creating this win-win-win result, NIC experts are tals don’t follow a “build it and they will come” strategy.
dedicated to blending in seamlessly with state or local NIC understands that constructing an inventive and
personnel. Acting as true agents for the customers they easy-to-use portal does not necessarily guarantee success.
serve, NIC employees take on as much portal management “Adoption is at the core of eGovernment success, and
responsibility as individual governments request. marketing is the key to adoption,” said Tamara Dukes,
In some instances, NIC assumes complete responsibility regional manager for NIC. “Without adoption, you’re stuck
for building and maintaining eGovernment solutions, with eGovernment services that nobody uses.”