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From the Editor: The Technology Toll

Technology will continue to play a key role in accomplishing the day-to-day business of government. In this issue, we report on states and municipalities that are putting IT to good use.

Illinois toll road users now pay double for the luxury of tossing loose change into automated machines. Why? The state wants to reduce congestion, improve accounting and eliminate the cost of staffing tollbooths.

Like many states, the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority built an automated system that allows drivers to purchase toll fees online and pay as they drive, using an electronic transponder called the I-Pass. The doubled fees force people who use cash to pay more for asking the state to do more—such as providing change manually.

In 2005, state and local governments will do a lot of out-of-the-box thinking and will take new approaches to getting their constituents to put technology advances to good use. They don’t have another option. Governing agencies have more responsibilities due to Homeland Security concerns, as well as managing the state’s affairs: tax collection, law enforcement, overseeing regulatory compliance and maintaining public infrastructure.

As such, technology will continue to play a key role in getting the day-to-day business of state and local government accomplished. It will allow governments to do more and gain the efficiencies of scale.

In this issue of State Tech, our writers uncover how technology helps state and local governments break out of the bureaucracy box and adapt application development processes—by partnering with vendors and other branches of government—to suit their specific needs.

For example, the Louisiana Department of Revenue scrapped its original tax system after the state Legislature passed a tax amnesty bill to encourage delinquent taxpayers to settle outstanding bills. In “Unleashing the DELTA Force ” on page 29, Melissa Solomon reports on a commercial package built on Microsoft’s platforms and the .NET framework. Taking an out-of-the-box approach, Louisiana cut costs in half by acquiring a prebuilt integrated tax system. Expect Louisiana to follow the cue of other states and offer incentives to taxpayers who pay online.

In CIO Insights on page 17, Wylie Wong reports about one benefit from the dot.com era: Numerous CIOs with e-commerce experience have entered the public sector ranks. “From Dot-Biz to Dot-Gov” chronicles the career moves of some private sector CIOs who took government jobs in order to make a difference.

In their columns, William F. Pelgrin, Peter Quinn and Jim Shanks discuss topics that every public sector technology head will confront in 2005: cybersecurity, application sharing and data integrity. As these IT experts note, technology offers new options for tackling old problems, but our respect for traditional values, such as privacy, will protect the innovation technology enables.

Lee Copeland, Editor in Chief

PENNY PUSHERS

Illinois, known as the “Land of Lincoln,” is the only state with active toll roads that accept pennies.

Oct 31 2006

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