Massachusetts Takes Giant Step Toward E-Government

BOSTON - The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is taking a giant step to
make itself more accessible to business partners and remote workers using secure
Internet connections provided by Verizon Communications.

As a result, state employees will have secure online access when working outside their offices, and many businesses that conduct online transactions with the Commonwealth will have virtually unlimited secure access to a wide range of state databases.

For example, insurance providers and auto dealerships will be able to help buyers register cars quickly online without going to the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Technology workers will be able to work securely from any location. Health and Human Services workers will become more mobile without sacrificing secure online access and database resources. Judges will be able to write decisions from home.

Under a three-year contract with the Commonwealth, Verizon is providing a Managed Virtual Private Network (VPN) service. The service uses the public Internet as an inexpensive means of providing private, secure access and authentication for authorized users to databases of up to 100 state agencies and bureaus.

Efforts are now underway to bring 10,000 users online this year.

"The technology will allow the Commonwealth to deliver key elements of
our online government strategy," said David Lewis, chief information officer
for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. "We'll improve our collaborations
with business partners, increase access to state resources and give our mobile
workers the tools they need all to better serve the public."

Robert Mudge, president, Verizon Massachusetts, said, "By leveraging the power of our $8 billion network in Massachusetts, the state can create electronic bonds between agencies, mobile workers and businesses. This will enable Massachusetts to make state government more accessible in a digital economy."

Agencies and businesses can use their existing telecommunications services to gain remote access to government databases and resources for approximately $10 to $30 per month for the minimum service configuration. Verizon will provide several options for Internet access, including 56 Kbps (kilobits per second) dial-up service, Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) and Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) services.

In July, Verizon and the Commonwealth successfully tested enrollment procedures and verified that applications would run properly. They also developed policies for use of the new service. Verizon is now enrolling government agencies and business partners.

The VPN allows three kinds of access:

  • Remote access to databases by employees such as state bank auditors who frequently work from field locations,

  • Site-to-site connections between agencies and businesses that need to exchange information, and

  • Access by businesses such as the 3,500 insurance agents who need online access to Registry of Motor Vehicles databases.

The new VPN Service provides the Commonwealth with the highest level of security and authentication available today for remote access.

Two types of VPN services will be available to the Commonwealth, its agencies and business partners:

  • Remote Access VPN: Authorized users initiate an encrypted communication session from a remote location and connect to an agency system located inside the Commonwealth's Wide Area Network using VPN client software on their PC or laptop computer.

  • Site-to-Site VPN: An encrypted communication channel is established between a remote location and an agency system. Both the remote location and the agency system can initiate communication.

Remote Access VPN services will be implemented first, followed by Site-to-Site VPN services.

In 1996, the Commonwealth began to chart the future course of online government by establishing the Online Government Task Force. That group included representatives from a number of state agencies, departments and offices. It was charged with improving government's efficiency and service quality using internal and Internet-based electronic communications. The Task Force issued its latest report (available at http://www.state.ma.us/itd/onlinegv/ogtfrpt.htm) in March 1998.

VPN service provides the Commonwealth with the ability to manage, remotely monitor and generate reports about the service, the network, its components and its use. The service is monitored around the clock by a state-of-the-art network operations center in Burlington, Mass. In addition, Verizon will provide help desk and installation setup support for the Commonwealth and its partners to ensure a successful VPN user experience and optimal network performance.

Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ), formed by the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE, is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with more than 100 million access line equivalents and 26.5 million wireless customers. A Fortune 10 company with more than 260,000 employees and approximately $60 billion in 1999 revenues, Verizon's global presence extends to 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.


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