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TampaGov-- 2002 Best of the Web

Tracy Miller
January 7, 2003
The Innovation Groups

The city of Tampa eGovernment Portal, TampaGov.net, is the recent winner of two prominent national awards.

The first honor came in October with the city winning the 2002 Best of the Web Contest sponsored by the Center for Digital Government and Government Technology Magazine.

In December, Tampa, Florida, tied with Honolulu, Hawaii, as a first place winner of the 2002 Digital Cities Survey (population 250,000 and more), underwritten by Microsoft and the Center for Digital Government (the Center).

In further recognition of Tampa’s accomplishment, the Center will name TampaGov.net as one of the most successful strategic planning process and project management approach for other cities to model.

The web site began in 1996 but it was not until 2000 that TampaGov.net became the leader in eGovernment services. It was then that the push began to make this a real-time, dynamic information resource.

The site is recognized as being highly useful in terms of ecommerce capabilities, extremely easy to navigate, and unique in its ability to allow citizens to track, store and customize bills and requests through MyTampaGov.

The personalization available through MyTampaGov is one of the most outstanding features of the site.

Steve Cantler, MIS Project Leader of TampaGov, explained the feature actually allows citizens to create a transaction history and add customized links to favorite or frequently accessed online city information.

For example, Cantler said that each time you pay a utility bill online or a parking ticket, you have the ability to create a historical record at MyTampaGov.

Or, if you apply for a city employment online, you can save your application at MyTampaGov and track the application through the hiring process. Later, you may reuse your application information to apply again.

In fact, any communication online from citizens to government officials is assigned a tracking number allowing citizens and related departments to track the email from generation to completion.

Suppose a resident reports a pothole to the transportation department. It is assigned a number and investigated. From the investigation, it is realized that a water main leak is causing the corrosion to occur. The water department is called out and the email is tracked through that department until the repair is made. Citizens are able to follow their requests along the way.

Cantler said that city is serious about its citizen-centric focus on the web site. “We want the site to be quick, efficient, and full of useful information that is refreshed frequently. Richer content equals greater interest,” Cantler said.

Key features of the site include: Tampa just 4 Kids and Tampa just 4 Seniors, Find It Fast, How Do I, Maps and Directions, and a Top 10 Link at the top of the page. These areas include drop-down lists of various frequently asked questions, requests, and links to agencies.

The software for the site was developed internally, except for the ecommerce aspect that was introduced in 2000. Cantler said they decided to go with an outside vendor already proficient in ecommerce, rather than tackling that project on their own.

The city contracted with Florida Local Interactive, which offered a self-funded model. In this way, the service is paid for through transaction or user fees, which average about $2, Cantler said. The city provides revenue collection services in at least eight different areas.

Cantler said there are no significant funding sources for TampaGov. Costs have been diverted and absorbed internally. The city has continued plans to expand its real-time service delivery and provide more services online.

“There is a long laundry list of things to do include adding a variety of Park and Recreation services and reservations online. We are very proud of the accomplishments but the citizens are really the ones who are the winners,” Cantler said.