Section 3.0

With the Commonwealth poised to renew its investment in and commitment to E-Government, now is a good time to take stock of the accomplishments of the past and the challenge for the future. This section assesses where the Commonwealth is today in E-Government and addresses the following issues:

  • How do past practices impact Massachusetts E-Government today?
  • What is offered on the Commonwealth website today?
  • How do the Commonwealth E-Government offerings compare to those of other states?
  • Is the Commonwealth ready, from an IT perspective, to implement new, transformational E-Government programs?

In summary, Accenture believes that the Commonwealth has been a leader in E-Government and is poised to regain leadership. Where previously there was little competition, now many states race to be the foremost in "on-line" government. For the Commonwealth, the challenge will be to develop a program of E-Government that is cohesive and guided by visionary leadership and cross-agency collaboration.

3.1 Massachusetts has a tradition of technology investment

Massachusetts was one of the early innovators in E-Government, with pockets of excellence that are recognized nationally. The Commonwealth pioneered the idea of setting aside funding for technology investments in its IT Bond Funding program. E-Mall and Comm-PASS were groundbreaking technologies when implemented. And today the RMV and the Department of Revenue provide examples of national recognition for technology leadership.

  • The Registry of Motor Vehicles won CIO Magazine's 1999 CIO Web Business 50/50 award for on-line business excellence.
  • The Department of Revenue's tax systems won Computerworld's 1997 Smithsonian Award in the category of Government and Non-Profit organizations for telefile and imaging systems.

Other entities have ranked the Commonwealth among the states. Typically, the Commonwealth is in the top half, but not at the highest level of technology leadership.

  • The Commonwealth ranked #1 in the Progressive Policy Institute's New Economy Index. For Digital Government it ranked 14 th.
  • Brown University's "Assessing E-Government" gave the Commonwealth an overall ranking of 11 out of 50.
  • The recent Governing Magazine "Ranking the States 2001" gave Massachusetts an average score of C+ and a specific IT grade of "C."
  • Accenture's 2001 Benchmarking of the websites of the 50 States graded Massachusetts a "B." The 1999 Benchmarking of the websites of the 50 states also graded Massachusetts a "B."

3.2 Today, the Massachusetts website offers plentiful information and a growing number of transactions.

States have rushed to put information on the web, and Massachusetts is no exception. Taken as a whole, its site has well over 1,500 pages. The Accenture team reviewed usage and "mapped" 1,318 pages of the Massachusetts website. The purpose of this analysis was to determine the extent to which the site provides transactions for citizens, and to assess the customer groups served by the site. We examined the trends in the number of discrete visits to a site (one user during one session, regardless of the number of pages viewed). Our mapping effort involved noting what information and services each page of the site provides and which customer group it serves. To help locate the Commonwealth along our eCommerce continuum, we also documented whether the page includes just static information (" Publish"), some form of interaction (" Interact"), or a financial transaction (" Transact"). The mapping also notes the number of clicks from the homepage, whether there is a link to the Commonwealth homepage, whether the page has a common look and feel. Overall, 13different measures were noted for each page.

As can been seen from the table below, roughly 800 of those pages are pure "Publish" or read only. A large number of pages, over 500, had some form of interaction. Most of these were search or email functions. There were 70 of what we call "robust interactions." A look-up of licensed professionals would be such an interaction, or a search of available vanity plate names, or an electronic form submission. The site had fewer than 20 pages with transactions. Together there are fewer than 90 pages of robust interactions and transactions. Less than 7% of the Massachusetts site actually allows the user to interact or transact.

Services Offered on the Massachusetts Website

January 2001

Type of Page


% of Total




Interact - Simple



Interact - Robust








Source: Accenture Analysis

A quick scan through the various Massachusetts sites shows that the agency sites all have different navigational systems, and a radically different look and feel from agency to agency. As a result, the user does not even know if he or she is still on the official Massachusetts site. And only 18 % of the agency pages actually have a link back to the Massachusetts homepage.

Since the beginning of 1998, discrete visits have climbed from around 320,000 visits a month to over 2 million a month as of December 2000. 1 Compared to other states, this is a high rate of usage. As can be seen in the table below, Massachusetts receives about five times the per capita web traffic as Ohio. Massachusetts receives approximately one visit for every 3 citizens where as Ohio receives one visit to its web site for every 15 citizens.


Web Visits per Month


Approx. Ratio


2 million

6.2 million




11.3 million


Source: Accenture Analysis

What is driving the growth and intensity of the traffic on the Massachusetts sites? Transaction capabilities and timely information.

It is not surprising to find that RMV and DOR, among others, are heavily requested sites. Most people pay taxes and have a car. It is no surprise that RMV is a popular site year round, and DOR seasonally. Last April, three DOR pages were in the top ten most active pages that month, together accounting for 11% of all requests for the entire Commonwealth site. The top ten for December of last year are as follows.

Top Ten Requested Pages in December 2000

Page Percent of Total Page Requests

  1. RMV homepage 3.04%
  2. RMV on-line transactions 2.65%
  3. Commonwealth Employment Opportunities 2.06%
  4. Search for An Attorney (Board of Bar Overseers) 1.44%
  5. Dept of Public Health homepage 1.07%
  6. Alphabetical Agency Listing 1.06%
  7. General Laws of Massachusetts 1.05%
  8. General Court home 0.91%
  9. Transitional Assistance homepage 0.83%
  10. Teachers' Retirement Board homepage 0.83%

Usage at both DOR and RMV has also been climbing. As mentioned earlier, eFilings of taxes rose from 222,000 to 817,000 between 1995 and 2000. Total on-line RMV transactions in 1997 numbered less than 30,000. In the year 2000 citizens and businesses conducted 207,000 online transactions at the RMV site. The ubiquitous nature of cars and taxes explains their initial high numbers. Their transaction-rich sites explain the growth in usage.

3.3 Massachusetts ranked a "B" in Accenture's 2001 50 State Benchmarking Study, because while transaction-rich, the site is not intentions-based.

Accenture conducted an analysis of the websites of the 50 states so that Massachusetts could be measured against it peers. This study is called the 50 State Benchmarking Study. This analysis was conducted in an independent but parallel project to the eStrategy for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

In the most recent Accenture benchmarking of the websites of the 50 states, Massachusetts received a "B" grade. While the study found that the Commonwealth boasted a large number of transactions compared to other states, in other metrics, Massachusetts fared less well.

Background on the Accenture 50 State Benchmarking Study

The Accenture benchmarking study was first conducted in 1999. We created an exhaustive list of citizen interactions with state governments. For the 150 government services identified, we searched each of the 50 State websites to determine if the service was offered on-line. For services offered on-line, we assessed the degree of sophistication of the service in the terms of the Accenture eCommerce continuum - Publish, Interact, Transact. For example, is there simply information on re-registering your car? (Publish), stating such things as general requirements for re-registering, offices hours of the registry, and what the fee is for reregistering? Can you actually send an email about re-registering (simple interaction), or can you fill out an electronic form and submit it to the Registry on-line as your application to reregister (robust interaction)? Finally, can you pay for the re-registration of your car on-line with a credit or debit card (transaction)?

A user or student of the website cannot assess whether web inputs are integrated into the State's legacy systems or whether the agency has transformed its business model, so the Accenture study focuses on the three elements of the eCommerce continuum that are plainly visible to the user-- Publish, Interact, and Transact.

Each state is given a score based on this analysis. Scores for the number of services available at the Publish, Interact, and Transact levels are each worth 25% of the total score.

The final 25% of the score is awarded for the category of "intentions-based" design. Intentions-based design is the organization of the entire web experience around the customer groups and their needs. The focus on intentions-based design rose from the first Accenture

attempt to conduct a 50 state benchmarking. It became clear over the course of the study that even when the analyst knew a state provided a particular service, she or he could not find it on the website. It should be noted that Accenture analysts were given two days to search through the site, and it is unlikely a citizen or business would spend 16 hours hunting for an on-line service.

Intentions-Based Design and the 50 State Benchmarking

Intentions-based design is a simple concept focused on the user and his or her needs. Implementing intention-based design however, is relatively difficult. To demonstrate the principle, we present for comparison the State of Ohio home page before and after it was redesigned around customer intentions. The old version of the Ohio homepage as seen below is a clear example of what is not intentions-based design. Like most first generation State websites, the Ohio site had a clear emphasis on presenting the links to the government branches and agencies, much like a phone book on the web. Although the Ohio homepage provided some links for "Information for Citizens," these links were not organized in any systematic matter and often did not bring the user to transactions he or she really needed. The principal navigation system was a link to agency websites.

Old version of Ohio homepage

Link to agency website

Old Ohio Homepage

The agency website page consisted of a long alphabetized list of agencies which linked the user to the agency homepages. This directory was quite exhaustive, running for three scrolled pages (see below). But the agencies were not grouped by any sort of function, nor was there an easy guide as to what the agencies actually did. The old Ohio site organization required the user to have an unusually extensive knowledge of the structure of the Ohio state government.

This type of site organization is referred to as "government organization based design." It does not reflect the intentions of the user, but the current structure of government.

Old Ohio agency directory page

The Ohio agency homepage directory

The new Ohio site attempts to address the concept of intentions-based design as shown in the diagram below.

New Ohio homepage

The Proposed Ohio Homepage

Ohio's new homepage identifies not the government organization - although it provides direct links to the agency websites - but instead identifies the principal customer groups. The customer homepages then cluster customer intentions into a series of major groups referred to as "virtual agencies." The customer homepage gives the user a an overview of various virtual agencies and some of the key services under those agencies, while the virtual agencies then provide a series of subcategories with links to services underneath them (see below).

Ohios's new homepage's overview of virtual agencies

Ohio Citizen Page and Virtual Agency "Education"

Rather than a large list of agency names, the user is presented with a set of interests relating to him or her as a customer, and then services underneath them, all in language the everyday user can understand.

Summary of Benchmarking Results

A comparison of Massachusetts relative to other states in Accenture's 50 State Benchmarking Study shows that Massachusetts is poised to lead the nation in E-Government capability. In Accenture's most recent benchmarking of the 50 states' websites, Massachusetts placed 16 th with an overall ranking of "B." This is similar to the ranking last year in this study. However, the components of the Massachusetts score are different. The Commonwealth improved its score and position relative to other states, in the "Publish" and "Interact" and "Transact" categories, but slipped relative to other states in the "intentions-based" design category. This slippage can be attributed to the considerable progress other states have made over the past fifteen months since the first study was conducted. Many states have focused on organizing their official state portal into a customer/intentions view; and tying the interactions and transactions to the departmental systems for complete online execution. Many states improved their position by focusing on intentions-based portal design.

As can be seen from the following table, Massachusetts ranks sixth among the 50 states in its "raw score," unadjusted for intentions-based design. The top six state scores are as shown below.

Top Ranked States Raw Scores

Accenture 50 State Benchmarking



% of Pts. Received










North Carolina









While the raw score placed the Commonwealth among the top states, Massachusetts was penalized by its low intentions-based score. The low intentions-based design score received by Massachusetts reflects its "government-focus" design, and its less than robust search engine capability. For the intentions-based design category, Massachusetts fell into 45 th place, only above Florida, Oregon, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and New York.

Though Massachusetts has fallen behind in customer-focused design and organization of its portal, Massachusetts clearly leads all other states in terms of customer-focused transaction-based applications at a departmental level. The Commonwealth has already made a significant investment in the more difficult task of designing and implementing sophisticated transactional databases and applications. Given this fact, Massachusetts could springboard right to the top of the list if it were to implement an intentions-based portal, link its existing E-Government applications to the Homepage under an "on-line" category and improve its search engine capabilities.

Relative to the other states, Massachusetts leads in providing sophisticated transaction capabilities to citizens and businesses. Massachusetts led all fifty states in this category with a total of fifteen on-line transactions. These included the following:

  • Reregister your car
  • Order duplicate driver's license
  • Order Massachusetts ID cards
  • Order special plates
  • Order duplicate registration
  • Pay moving citations
  • Pay personal income tax
  • Pay corporate tax
  • Enroll in deferred compensation program (link to Aetna's MA. State Employees Page)
  • Check and change asset allocations (link to Aetna's MA. State Employees Page)
  • Order copies of birth certificates (link to Vital Check)
  • Order copies of death certificates (link to Vital Check
  • Reserve a campsite (link to Reserve America)
  • Purchase rail/bus/metro/water pass (monthly/annual)
  • Purchase products from approved State catalogue (for state employees)

Some of the Massachusetts transactions occur on linked websites outside of the state portal. From the customer's perspective, however, it does not matter "how" the transaction gets done, it generally only matters that the customer can find the service and execute a transaction.

While the Accenture survey assessed a limited number of transactions, the Commonwealth has other online functions that were not assessed. Current online transactions include:

  • The Office of the State Comptroller runs MassFinance, which includes the VendorWeb, CommonCents, and the Manager MMARS applications. VendorWeb, for example, enables any vendor doing business with the Commonwealth to run user-defined queries to view pending and recent payments to their business. This provides businesses greater transparency into the inner workings of the Commonwealth and replaces calls to departments across the Commonwealth with 24 by 7 self-service.
  • The Division of Professional Licensure website provides a license database of public information on professional licenses, regulations, and downloadable forms, and other useful information and services. This application provides the public with a searchable database of information regarding all licensed professionals in Massachusetts. The system also provides licensees the ability to instantly update their professional information on-line. This site is part of a broader Office of Consumer Affairs initiative called CLARIS that looks to integrate its multi-layered licensing and enforcement systems into one model that has both Internet and Intranet capabilities.
  • The Registry of Motor Vehicles runs the Auto dealers and Insurance Companies Online Access application. This application provides 381 dealers in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts online access to the Registry of Motor Vehicles' databases. Access allows dealers to directly complete 30% of all the new registrations each month without leaving the dealership. In addition, it provides every insurance company in the state with an electronic interface to the Registry for vehicle policy rating. The Registry also runs Express Lane, a web-based application that provides a number of transactions including registration renewals, citation payments and special plate purchases. Currently there are a series of planned additions being implemented, including scheduling of road test exams and submission of accident reports.
  • The Department of Environmental Management runs Camp Massachusetts. This application provides a campground reservation service for the public, enabling reservations to be made for campsites at 28 campgrounds through a single call to a central reservation center hosted by ReserveAmerica.
  • The Department of Revenue runs the Electronic Tax Filings application. Approximately 800,000 returns (25% of the total 3.2M returns filed) for the 1999 tax year were filed electronically through this application. The Department of Revenue also runs the Bay State Business Connection. This new website enables small and medium businesses to register trustee taxes, download free software for filing sales and withholding tax returns, and locate various types of business permit information online.
  • The Department of Youth Services runs the DYS Case tracking application. This intranet application uses a relational database and web technology interface to track an average daily caseload of approximately 250 youthful offenders on a seven day by twenty-four hour basis. This application has been implemented at eleven community sites where clients must report.
  • The North Shore Community College runs the Electronic Data Exchange. This application allows the Financial Aid Office to send and receive financial aid information, specifically, a student's Financial Aid Form, electronically to Federal Higher Education agencies.
  • The Department of Housing and Community Development runs the CAFMIS, the Client and Fiscal Management application. This application includes several modules and allows end-users to input data via the web for various Community Development programs.
  • The Office for Children runs the Childcare Administration application. This application includes a centralized database for childcare services with the following components:
    • Information and referral
    • Uniform intake and eligibility (waiting and management)
    • Billing, payment and reconciliation.

The system will be available for query and data input to a large number of state agency and vendor locations throughout the Commonwealth.

  • The Corporations Division in the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth has recently launched two new web-based applications that make it easier to submit corporation annual reports and to review Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) filings.

UCC Filings: Creditors are required by statute to file a financial statement (i.e., a UCC filing) with the Secretary of the Commonwealth to protect their interest in a debtor's personal property. The new UCC application will provide web-based search capabilities to make it easier for citizens to review and obtain UCC information. Later phases of the project will enable online filings.

Annual Reports: Each year over 100,000 businesses must file their annual reports with the Secretary of the Commonwealth. The new Annual Reports application allows business to file these reports online. Corporations are assigned a PIN and a corporate identification number to easily file and access their reports on-line.

There are also 31 additional projects under development to implement E-Government applications. These are referred to as "flanking programs" and are described in Appendix 3 of this report.

Conclusions regarding Massachusetts' position on the 50 State Benchmarking Study

While the Commonwealth can be proud of many of its accomplishments over the last two years, it has fallen behind in the benchmarking study, relative to other states. The Commonwealth could leapfrog ahead of many states if it were to implement an intentions-based portal, and other applications and shared services recommended by the E-Government strategy. These changes would set the stage for customer-focused design while providing immediate results and payoffs by capitalizing on its transactional strengths.

3.4 Accenture assessment of Massachusetts "IT readiness" for new E-Government programs.

The real benefits from E-Government are recognized when businesses and citizens can complete transactions themselves. Government realizes the greatest E-Government efficiency gains only when customers perform transactions that are integrated with back-end systems. As a result, the readiness of existing systems to handle such integration of data contributes significantly to the chances of success in achieving E-Government efficiencies. For this reason, the Accenture technology team assessed what we call "IT readiness." To place it in the context of one eCommerce Continuum, the mapping exercise categorizes pages by Publish, Interact, and Transact, and the "IT readiness" exercise focuses on whether the web applications are integrated into the existing IT systems of the Commonwealth.

Massachusetts has made a tremendous investment in using technology to make the delivery of services more effective and efficient. Each agency and branch of government has invested significant effort to choose technology that best meets its business need. The freedom that each organization has enjoyed in the development of technology has led to a large number of disparate systems. It is the cumulative investment in many different technologies over many years that makes the jump from publishing information to the coordinated delivery of electronic government services a serious challenge.

Assessment Process

The Accenture team undertook an effort to determine the "IT readiness" of the Commonwealth to fully participate in E-Government. The team conducted 32 interviews with the largest technology spending organizations in the Commonwealth to assess the ability to:

  • Integrate E-Government services with existing agency systems
  • Provide the resources and skills required to implement E-Government services, and
  • Provide a technology platform that is highly-available, modular, and robust

Each of the following factors was assessed on a three-point scale. To form a basis for the assessment, the project team reviewed the Y2K business continuity plans, the IT investment briefs, the Transaction Survey conducted by ITD and also conducted interviews with CIO's, and follow-up conversations.

Assessment Category / Factor

Issues Addressed

Integration Readiness

Modularity of Services

Are the current systems modular or are they tightly integrated? Is the same data held in several locations opening the door to incorrect information? Are business functions available to other systems outside the agency if required?

Level of Automation

To what extent are the current business processes automated? Are there many manual handoffs between business processes?

System Antiquity

Have systems been recently replaced? Are the current systems based on open technology? Are the skills to support this technology readily available in the marketplace?

Capability Readiness

Web Integration Skills

What skills are available with specific web applicability? What skills are available with indirect applicability (middleware)

Availability of Resources

How many open positions? How many open service requests for changes to existing applications? How many new requests for automation not able to be addressed?

Ability to Undertake eGovernment in light of other initiatives

Is the organization either understaffed, or fully engaged in other large automation initiatives

Infrastructure Readiness

Common Service Usage

Is the organization currently using any common services? Does the organization routinely develop their own common services for reuse.

Current Web Presence

Is the current use of web technology based on publish, interact, transact? Are the front-end web functions tied directly to back-end systems?

Ability to Scale

Does the current automated process require any manual or unreliable steps to complete the transaction? Is the system available outside normal business hours? Can the system handle substantial new volume without complete overhaul?

These factors were developed based on both prior assessments and E-Government infrastructure work being performed for Delaware, North Carolina and the City of New York.

Assessment Results

The assessment revealed that the Commonwealth is only half as ready as it could be to provide E-Government services. Consistently, on most every measure, technology organizations scored less than half of the possible score. The lowest scoring factors were:

  • Availability of web development skills,
  • Ability to transact business over the web, and
  • Overall availability of technical skilled resources.

Higher scores were recorded for:

  • Overall level of automation, and
  • Relative age of infrastructure.

There are several other observations that were important to note from the assessment process.

Most of the smaller IT organizations were looking for some degree of assistance in both direction and capability to move their services on-line. They have felt increasing pressure from the business owners (agency heads, Secretaries, etc.) to make use of new technology to provide better service; yet are experiencing difficulty keeping the existing operation running with modest improvements.

The larger technology organizations have had an easier time justifying and obtaining the resources required to increase the degree of automation, but the significant investment in older technologies has caused the development of E-Government services that are poorly integrated across the business. The delivery of E-Government services in these larger organizations are not tightly integrated to the core business systems. For example, one organization has a front-end system that accepts transactions from the web. These transactions, however, are placed into lightly secured e-mail and sent to a secondary server to await batch processing. The public is very happy with the ability to perform a transaction on-line, but lack of integration means that an individual is not notified about problems with his or her transaction until possibly the next day.

The medium-sized organizations appeared to be the most technology-ready for E-Government. These organizations were positioned to replace existing technology with integrated systems that include the ability to transact online. A good example of this can be seen within the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Environmental Law Enforcement. These organizations have implemented SPORT to handle the business of recreational licensing. While this application has been developed to handle internal processing, it can be extended to include E-Government transactions. This would be a truly integrated solution. One of the programs of this initiative is to web-enable the license process of SPORT.

Most agencies have either already implemented or started the planning process for the provision of E-Government services. While the standards put forth by ITD have guided infrastructure decisions, it appears that application development and service delivery is evolving in many different technology directions.

Most organizations either use or plan to use the CommBridge services for communication across applications within the Commonwealth. While this has been used effectively for some services, notably integration with MMARS and HR/CMS, it has not yet been implemented across a broad array of functions. This can be largely attributed to the difficulty organizations have in understanding its use for linking modular applications. CommBridge can provide strategic advantage to the Commonwealth as a vehicle for integration for multi-agency services. In order for this to occur, technology organizations need more education as to the benefits of integration and more assistance in implementation of that integration.

Most organizations recognized a need for better technology project management skills. Because technology changes so quickly, organizations have spent time trying to keep up with newer technology, yet often have not been able to stay current with formalized technology project management skills.

Conclusions on IT Readiness

The Commonwealth is at a crossroad as it relates to the delivery of services that use technology. Smaller organizations are buckling under the load that constantly changing technology has placed on their systems and their people. Mid-sized organizations are undertaking technology change, but are doing so in many different directions. The larger organizations have invested heavily in technology but don't have the capability to reliably interconnect their services to other services in a coordinated manner. The Commonwealth needs to exercise centralized leadership in delivery of a portal application platform, shared infrastructure services, and must develop a robust, highly available link between E-Government and existing applications.


Develop a Commonwealth Portal including the software, hardware, and processes that will allow agencies to leverage a central technology

Create a set of common services (such as security, payments, GIS, etc.) that allow for these functions to be created once and used by all

Utilize and extend CommBridge to provide more robust links among existing applications

Provide training on both project management and portal development skills to ease burden on technical resources

This leadership will provide a common set of services, skills and capabilities that are needed to deliver value, on-line and otherwise. Smaller organizations can avoid the hurdle of implementing high cost basic infrastructure items such as security, and can share scarce technical resources. Larger organizations will be able to use the common structure to provide a more integrated offering. All organizations can take advantage of project management skills.

3.5 Summary thoughts on Massachusetts E-Government today.

Massachusetts has spent millions in the past several years on IT and has developed some impressive systems and web applications. Yet Massachusetts E-Government is a loose confederation of agency systems and websites. It needs to become an integrated portal.

Massachusetts is not exploiting the full potential of E-Government. Its web presence is not organized around the customer, and its site, for all its strength, is in essence a "read-only" web site. Additionally, many of its services are not properly integrated into the legacy systems of the agencies.

1 Any conclusions about usage come with several caveats, however. Use of the site is actually higher because not all agencies are measured by ITD's Webtrends analysis tool. Like many states, Massachusetts does not measure usage in a consistent manner and it is almost impossible to get one coherent picture of usage for the entire Commonwealth site. The difficulty in tracking usage arises from the fact that not all sites are hosted on servers maintained by the Information Technology Division ("ITD"). In fact, ITD hosts only 52% of all agency web sites. 33% of agency sites are partially hosted by ITD and 15% have no connection to ITD whatsoever. Not surprisingly, many of the largest agencies are only partially hosted by ITD.