Netgov.com Latest to Enter E-Government Race

WASHINGTON (06/12/2000) - Netgov.com, an electronic government company created to help facilitate greater interaction between citizens and their state and local governments, launched last week, joining a host of similar businesses in the increasingly crowded e-government marketplace.

But what separates this company from its business-to-government counterparts is that it's not proposing to create portals or dump loads of software on agencies. Instead, Netgov.com aims to enhance municipalities' current online capabilities and help them launch site-specific applications, said Bruce Masterson, president and chief operating officer at Netgov.

"We want to work with local governments to brand solutions into their Web sites," Masterson said. "We're really focused on cities and counties, with some state plans, and we'll be making some announcements in the next two or three weeks about agreements we've signed, and we have others in the works."

Stephen Goldsmith, the former mayor of Indianapolis, is chairman of the Chicago-based company, and William Lederer, who created the multimillion-dollar Art.com e-commerce site, is the vice-chairman.

Goldsmith gained wide recognition during his two terms as mayor during the 1990s for outsourcing many government services. He established 170 separate government functions and applied the "Yellow Pages" rule to each one.

If the government was in the same business as more than three private companies, Goldsmith reasoned, the public sector was probably not doing it as well, and therefore should outsource the business. According to government watchers, Goldsmith's techniques effectively changed the way the Indianapolis government operates.

In addition to Goldsmith's municipal leadership background, Netgov announced the appointment of three former mayors to its advisory board: Ed Rendell of Philadelphia, Kurt Schmoke of Baltimore and Jerry Abramson of Louisville, Ky.

Netgov.com's city and county focus, as opposed to the larger state and federal deals, is based on its leadership's expertise in those areas and the high number of transactions at the lower levels of government, said Steve Waldon, chief technology officer at Netgov.com.

"We're a portal enabler for municipalities and are focused on those that have high transaction rates between citizens and businesses and the government," Waldon said.

The company will make money though licensing fees, transaction fees or convenience charges paid either by the governments or the constituents - or a combination of those options.

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