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For the past several years, we have worked hard to use technology to make government more efficient and deliver government services more conveniently. Things that used to take state agencies months are now done within days.
We have won numerous national awards for the services we provide online. We've been named “the most digital state government” in the country. And we continue to build on our digital government success.
These online services make life easier for all of us. Copies of vital records like birth, death, marriage and divorce certificates can be ordered online. Washington motorists can check traffic flows, driving and weather conditions, and travel route information. Vehicle license tabs are available online—a feature that has been especially beneficial for military residents deployed overseas. Many military personnel have renewed their tabs from the decks of battleships and aircraft carriers deployed to Iraq. Starting this fall, driver's license renewals will be available over the Internet as well.
The benefits go beyond mere convenience and cost savings. Services like the Provider Credential Search show how important online services can be. This Web site gives users information on health care providers—including any current restrictions or disciplinary actions. The award-winning Child Support Internet Payment Service is another good example. The Department of Social and Health Services electronically collects more than 100,000 child support payments each month on the site.
|Quote of the Week
“Virtually every Washington state agency is using customer-friendly technology to reduce or eliminate wait times at state offices and streamline processes for businesses.”
—Governor Locke, August 5, 2004
The workers of Washington benefit from our state government's use of technology too. Unemployment applications and claims can be filed over the Internet—and nearly 40 percent of all who file for benefits take advantage of this service. And WorkSource's electronic job connection has become the largest source of jobs and job seekers in our state. Businesses are able to sort and scan thousands of resumes, and each month job seekers use the site to send more than 100,000 applications to employers with listed openings. The site also offers job counseling, resume development and other assistance.
Business licenses are available online, and businesses can report wages and pay unemployment taxes more conveniently, cost effectively and accurately. State business taxes are also payable over the Internet. And businesses can find assistance in applying for permits on line through the multi-agency Office of Regulatory Assistance.
While these examples are far from exhaustive, Washington citizens can easily access information and services from more than 130 state agencies, boards and commissions and more than 240 political sub-divisions across the state at Access Washington.
And if you need some fresh air and a break from that computer, reserve a campsite online and get out there and enjoy one of Washington's many beautiful state parks!
I am proud of our state's great progress in making government more accessible and more efficient through customer-friendly technology. We will continue to explore new ways to save time and money—and provide better government to the people of Washington.Sincerely,
Getting Out the Vote
Governor Locke has called on state agencies to intensify voter registration efforts. “Voting is the essential exercise for selecting our government leaders, determining public policy, and maintaining our democratic freedoms and values,” the Governor said. “State agencies play a vital role in helping citizens register to vote, and we should continue those efforts and build upon them.” State law requires certain state agencies to provide voter registration assistance to clients or employees who elect to register to vote. The federal National Voter Registration Act also requires state agencies that provide public assistance to offer voter registration services to clients applying for benefits, recertifying their eligibility or changing addresses.
“Voting is a cherished right and a fundamental responsibility of Washington citizens,” the Governor said. “Yet in Washington, as in the rest of the country, voter registration levels are unacceptably low. Today, more than a third of eligible citizens in Washington are not registered to vote.” For more information on how to register to vote, please visit the Secretary of State's Web site.
Promoting a Smoke Free Summer
The Department of Health's Tobacco Prevention and Control Program has launched a radio campaign to give anti-smoking messages to kids throughout the summer. The Smoke-free Days of Summer campaign encourages kids to pledge to be tobacco-free. Radio ads give kids reasons not to smoke and direct them to the program's youth Web site where they can see, in graphic detail, the dangers of smoking. The partnership also includes tobacco-free pledges on the back of radio bumper stickers, prizes, pizza parties, and opportunities for kids to speak against tobacco companies. The partnership involves radio stations in Western Washington, Spokane, the Tri-Cities, and Yakima and runs through August.
Helping Kids Get Health Care
Washington state residents who care for abused or neglected children from a relative's family will now find it much easier and quicker to get medical care for their nieces, nephews and grandchildren. Under an agreement between DSHS' Children's Administration and the state's Medicaid program, dependent children placed with family members will no longer have to apply for health-care coverage and wait for it to be approved. From now on, those children will automatically be enrolled in the Foster Care Medical Program when their status changes. A medical identification card will be mailed to them within a week and they will be immediately eligible for health care. The new policy reflects DSHS' overall push to bring programs together and put the clients at the focus of services.
Success Story: Medicaid Saves Taxpayers Money
For the third year in a row, the Coordination of Benefits Section in the state Medicaid program has broken its own savings record, racking up millions of dollars that repay the state's medical bills and benefit Washington taxpayers. The section collected $148 million from insurance companies and other payers during fiscal 2004, topping the $133 million collected in fiscal 2003 and the $116 million collected in fiscal 2002 - a three-year total of just under $400 million. The money comes from other parties who have primary responsibility for covering Medicaid clients' medical bills. Medicaid is the payer of the last resort, which means the program will pay for treatment only when all other obligations have been satisfied.
Success Story: Employment Security Tops in the Nation
The Washington State Employment Security Department received top honors for outstanding labor market information from the National Association of State Workforce Agencies. Washington won a first-place award for its Washington Benefits Survey that examined a spectrum of benefits offered by Washington employers. The state received the 2004 Labor Market Information Communications Publication Award for excellence in providing quality information for business. It was one of five national awards chosen from among 85 entries.
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