State of California launches ambitious Web portal

InfoWorld |  Business

The State of California relaunched its Web site on Tuesday, turning the once-static site into a customizable, user-friendly portal -- dubbed MyCalifornia -- that state officials said would set the pace for e-government services.

MyCalifornia, at www.ca.gov, will offer Golden State citizens services including automobile registration, tax refund status, fishing and hunting permits, hazardous waste disposal directions, and small-business information such as tax forms and government contracting. According to officials, the site is designed to be easy to use and incorporates design features found on the sites of private etailers and other online entities.

"Some states have transactions online but not a true portal," said Arun Baheti, director of e-government for the office of Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat, in Sacramento. "Some have static pages that link to applications being run in a department somewhere. We are taking a real private-sector model and developed it in a way that a company would have done."

Designed by Deloitte Consulting, the MyCalifornia Web site draws on a wide range of e-business vendors, including e-commerce analytic and marketing automation applications from Broadbase Software; Verity's K2 Toolkit for search functionality; BroadVision's One-To-One Enterprise and InfoExchange Portal Software; and Interwoven's TeamSite software.

Users will be able to create a personal profile to build a personalized home page, in which they can highlight the issues in which they are interested, Baheti said. Relevant information will be pushed to users, based on their profile, he said.

The California Assembly approved the $2 million budget for the project last July, as part of the state budget, and Deloitte began work later in the fall. According to Baheti, 60 percent to 65 percent of California citizens have access to the Internet, either at home, work, or school.

"If you take the per capita income and calculate the average hour it would cost a citizen to stand in line to do a transaction with the state -- a vehicle registration, for example -- given the 34 million population of the state, the state will be saving in excess of $300 million per year," said Carlo Grifone, a principal at Deloitte Consulting in Sacramento.

"Not only are there no states that have gotten this far, but very few private-sector companies have created so robust an architecture as the state of California has," Grifone said. "This customer-centric solution really puts power in the hands of the customer."

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