Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Weekly News Conference – Digital Government Successes
November 5, 2003
Joining me today is Fred Stephens, director of the state Department of Licensing.
I’d also like to acknowledge:
· Bill Kehoe, Chief Information Officer for the Department of Licensing
· Michael McVicker, Deputy Director of Operations for the state Department of Information Services (representing DIS Director Stuart McKee, who is out of town)
We’re here today to talk about the advances our state continues to make in digital government – providing key services to our citizens and our businesses online.
Virtually every state agency has developed new ways to reduce or eliminate wait times at state offices, and streamline permitting processes for businesses. And they’re doing it through customer-friendly technology. With more services available online, people are spending more time with their families, rather than standing in long lines.
We’re eliminating red tape. We’re making state government more convenient and efficient. We’re also making our state more competitive.
Washington state is an innovator in digital government. We have won numerous national awards for the services we provide online.
Earlier this year, our state was named “the most digital state government” in the country, based on a five-year national survey done by the Center for Digital Government and the Progress and Freedom Foundation.
Making state government more efficient has been a top priority of my administration – and we continue to improve upon our success. Today, we are here to celebrate those improvements – and to highlight how Washington state government is doing even more, to better serve our citizens and businesses.
The Department of Licensing recently marked a major milestone – reporting more than one million online transactions in just two-and-a-half years! It took the agency 24 months to reach their first 500,000 transactions. But they reached their next 500,000 transactions in just eight months – one third of the time!
Licensing is also helping streamline permitting processes in our state – a key recommendation of the Competitiveness Council – through its Master License Service. The Master License Service allows businesses to fill out one application to register with all pertinent state agencies.
Last year, I issued a directive to the department to expand this program to include cities – allowing businesses doing business with cities and the state to take care of all their license registrations at one time. The cities of Richland, Bellevue, Tumwater and Sammamish are now part of this innovative new system, with more cities expected to join in the coming months.
And today, I am proud to announce that the city of Sammamish is now the first to offer local and state license renewals online as well.
Licensing is also working to bring even more services to the Internet. For example, you will soon you will be able to renew your driver’s license online. And that’s not all.
With more about the exciting developments going on at the Department of Licensing, I’d like to introduce the agency’s director, Fred Stephens…
Thank you Fred.
Our improvements and innovations don’t stop there. Recently launched online services at other state agencies are also getting rave reviews from citizens and businesses. For example:
Paying Child Support
Thousands of people are using the Department of Social and Health Services’ Child Support Internet Payment System. 50,000 online payments are made per month, totaling more than $13 million – that’s compared to the $60 million that flows through the agency each month by 180,000 paper checks. The number of electronic payments grows each month.
Checking credentials of health care providers
Visitors to the Department of Health’s Provider Credential Search Web site can obtain name, birth year, and license status information on health care providers, including any current restrictions or disciplinary actions. Since the search engine debuted in April of this year, 1.5 million visitors have accessed the Web page, and nearly 26,000 documents have been downloaded.
Also today, we have new information about the number of people using two well-established online services, and how those services are saving the state millions of dollars:
Filing business taxes
The Department of Revenue’s electronic tax filing system (ELF) is a very popular tool with businesses across the state. 56,000 businesses have registered to file electronically –that’s 15 percent of all businesses in the state. 218,000 returns were filed electronically in 2003. Electronic filers paid $336 million in taxes in July of this year.
Reserving a campsite
More and more people are going online to reserve campsites and other activities at state parks. During the past year nearly 40 percent of all Department of Parks and Recreation reservations were made online. As a result of this efficient reservation system, we’ve been able to reduce the cost of campsite reservations by more than $330,000.
And we have more information about other online services detailed in the fact sheet that you received.
We’re making progress, but we know there’s more work to do. We will continue to create new ways to save our citizens and our businesses time and money.