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Calculating Savings

Shane Peterson
September 2002
Government Technology Spectrum

TAMPA, Fla.  -  Why use an electronic service instead of driving to city hall? A savings calculator on the city of Tampa's Web site attempts to answer that question.

The calculator (www.tampagov.net/savings_estimator/index.asp) asks citizens for the type of business transaction they want to perform; the one-way travel distance to the appropriate government office; the number of miles per gallon their car gets; the cost of a gallon of gas; parking meter fees; and the hourly value of their time, said Steve Cantler, MIS project leader.

Using that information, it spits out the savings a citizen can expect by conducting business online rather than in person.

"It's there primarily to help citizens understand some of the benefits they might get by not having to get into their vehicle and come down to a city agency to do business," Cantler said.

Though jurisdictions are doing their best to educate citizens about the benefits of electronic government, some people still need that extra nudge, Cantler said, adding that the calculator has resided on the Tampa site for about a year and a half and gets between 200 and 250 hits per month.

"The calculator specifically uses the typical wait times that customers or citizens would see if they came down to a city agency to do the payment in person ... or to go through a construction permit application process," he said. "We just came up with a fairly generic utility to allow citizens to plug in their characteristics."