State Auditor Criticizes VT's Electronic Systems

02/05/02 12:00AM By Bob Kinzel



(Host) State Auditor Elizabeth Ready says recent problems with the state's electronic income tax filing system reveal serious problems with more ambitious plans to use the Internet for many government transactions.

VPR's Bob Kinzel reports.


(Kinzel) The Dean administration is in the process of researching a project that could revolutionize how consumers interact with state government. However some state officials are concerned that the administration is not building enough independent oversight into their system.

Under the "e-government" proposal, consumers in the not too distant future would be able to conduct many of their transactions with state government using the Internet, such as the renewal of driver's licenses.

The initial application of the project - the electronic filing of income tax forms - has been delayed this year because of software problems. State Auditor Elizabeth Ready says the problems surrounding the tax project show that the entire e-government plan needs a lot of independent oversight:

(Ready) "Just think of it this way: If you have $45 million and you're going to invest it. You write the check. Imagine not coming back in a year or so and saying, How are my assets performing? What's the cost-benefit analysis? How am I doing in many parts of state government? We can't even get a catalog of our hardware and software, much less any kind of cost-benefit analysis of how those assets are performing in the workplace."

(Kinzel) Administration Secretary Kathy Hoyt says a special cabinet group has been formed to explore the possibilities of e-government. Hoyt says the final plan will certainly include some Legislative oversight, but Hoyt thinks Ready's concerns are premature:

(Hoyt) "She is thinking that we are way, way ahead of where we are¿. We have put together a group that [is] looking within their departments at the opportunities to make their services more available to the public through the Internet."

(Kinzel) State Auditor Ready plans to issue a comprehensive report detailing her concerns about e-government and the state's entire information technology system at the end of the month.

For Vermont Public Radio, I'm Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.
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