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Rhode Island STATE report 2013

INSIDE Hidden Treasures................ 2 Giving Back to Rhode Island......4 Responding to Mobile. . ......... 7

From the General Manager I

remember it like it was yesterday. In November of 2003, the governor’s

office held a press conference to announce that citizens could now renew their vehicle

Fulfilling Rhode Island’s eGovernment Vision


hen started its long-term partnership with the state, Governor

Lincoln Almond issued an official press release. On Jan. 7, 2002, the

Governor said, “ will change the way citizens interact with state

government … I’m excited about this opportunity to bring eGovernment to all Rhode Islanders where, from one website, they will eventually be able to locate

registration through the website.

a copy of their birth certificate, purchase a fishing license, or even renew their

One of the governor’s staff would be the

driver’s license.”

first Rhode Islander to conduct a transaction.

In 11 years, the team at Rhode Island Interactive has fulfilled the vision of the

Because this was one of the first high-profile

governor. RII has delivered all three of these services, along with more than a

citizen services launched by, our team

hundred others, to the people of Rhode Island. has truly changed the way

was on standby both in Providence and

citizens interact with state government.

across the country to ensure that everything

Much has changed as we enter our 14th year of service in Rhode Island. Our

went smoothly with that first, very public,

online applications have become far more complex. The On-Demand Temporary

renewal. Despite a momentary glitch when

Plate system we recently launched required more than 400 hours of development

the staff member misspelled her own name

and project management. The financial and personnel investments we continue

during the authentication step, everything

to make to ensure the security of our data also continues to escalate year-over-

went as planned and by the end of the month

year. Yet, we are very proud that in 2013 our security controls, procedures, and

378 Rhode Islanders had renewed online.

policies were examined, measured, and validated through our third-party security

| continued on page 3 |

certification program. | continued on page 2 |

Hidden Treasures


sers of are probably most familiar with our trans-

maximize the number of tests they can accommodate during

action-based service where a small fee is added to the

their shift. Every year an average of 25,000 appointments are

total cost to support our self-funded model. What might

scheduled using the service.

not be as familiar are the many value-added services offered by at no cost to users or the state. Here are some of

• Each year, when the Rhode Island Department of Corrections is looking for the brightest and best to serve as

those hidden treasures:

correctional officers, they turn to to

• Thanks to our collaboration with the

host their free online job application.

Rhode Island Historical Preservation &

Even though Corrections accepts paper

Heritage Commission, users

applications, more than 95 percent of

can search a database of nearly 20,000

their 4,719 potential recruits opt to use

historic properties in the Ocean State.

the online version.

• R hode Islanders no longer need to

• Political junkies across the Ocean

tie up the phone lines at the Divi-

State appreciate our archive

sion of Taxation to inquire about

of historic election data. Visitors

their refunds – In just a few clicks

can look at results by candidate,

our “Where’s My Refund?” service

municipality, and even district. On

offers the latest update as to when

the big night, the Rhode Island Board

that tax check will be in the mail. In

of Elections updates this official data in

2013 the system was searched 283,166 times

real time.

by impatient Rhode Islanders looking to get

As with all of our services, the results are as easy

the 411 on their refunds.

to view on a smartphone as they are on a desktop.

• The DMV uses an service to schedule their student

• Best of all, the system offers the state thousands of

road tests. The system helps prevent the creation of duplicate

dollars in cost avoidance every year over their legacy systems.

appointments in multiple locations and allows staff to

That’s a result all taxpayers can be happy about!

Fulfilling Rhode Island’s eGovernment Vision Additionally, continued to launch

Government Websites in the country. This

We also take great pride in our balance

new services aimed at both citizens and busi-

award marked the seventh time in the past

between services that financially support

nesses. Rhode Islanders can now change their

eight years the Center has placed us in the

our operation and those that are funded

address with the DMV online with just a few

top of their list.

by the enterprise and offered at no cost

mouse clicks, and medical waste transporters

to the state. In 2013 we assisted the new

can register their business with the Depart-

the many new services we will be bringing to

Office of Digital Excellence, the Division of

ment of Environmental Management quickly

the people and businesses of Rhode Island.

Information Technology, and the Office of

and efficiently through our online service.

Most importantly, we continue to strive to be

| continued from page 1 |

the Governor with the launch of our new

Of all our accomplishments, we are

We are excited about the coming year and

the best at everything we do – from customer

Transparency Portal. Thanks to our efforts,

perhaps most proud of the continued recog-

service to security, from innovative applications

Rhode Islanders have access to more than

nition the Ocean State has received for our

to cost-saving solutions, is committed

800,000 state payment records offering

eGovernment efforts. In 2013, the Center for

to continually delivering on the state’s long-

unparalleled insights into state spending

Digital Government again honored

term vision of efficiency and value through

without the need to spend taxpayer dollars.

by selecting it as one of the Top 10 State

excellence in eGovernment. n


From the General Manager | continued from page 1 |

Web design and general consulting. Last

Rhode Island earn a leadership position

In November of 2013 the portal accom-

year processed $1,104,344,702.66 for

when it comes to fostering new business

modated 6,081 renewals. Over the past 10

the state – that translates to 33 percent of

upstarts through the Internet.

years, more than 800,000 registrations have

all state revenue.

been renewed and paid for through the portal.

Just recently, I fielded multiple questions

For a state that too often dwells on “last place,” it should be refreshing for all

from several other states that were inter-

Rhode Islanders to know that we have in

ested in developing a One Stop Business

many areas led the way when it comes to

so very proud that the services

service to make it easier for local entrepre-

eGovernment. Rhode Island was the first

continues to launch every year have made

neurs to navigate through the regulatory

state to enable responsive design for its

a true impact on the everyday lives of citi-

process in getting their business started.

official website, to automatically reformat

zens and businesses throughout the Ocean

They all wanted to know more about the

content to function as well on a mobile

State. In 2013 we continued to support

Quick Start Service we had developed in

browser as on a desktop. Rhode Island

nearly 80 Rhode Island departments,

conjunction with the RI Secretary of State.

is only one of a handful of states where

agencies, offices and municipalities with

This system has truly become a national

citizens can renew their driver’s licenses

innovative eGovernment services, no-cost

model for One Stop services and helped

online. We were the first state to embrace

As a lifelong Rhode Islander I am

“… it should be refreshing for all Rhode Islanders to know that we have in many areas lead the way when it comes to eGoverment.”

the widespread use of social media to better keep our citizens informed and we have been first to launch a variety of user-friendly services ranging from liquor registration to lead paint inspections. In 2013 alone, was honored with seven national awards recognizing the innovation our partnership has brought to the people of the Ocean State. I have had the pleasure of watching grow in so many ways since that press conference. From just four portal services in 2003, we now offer more than 100. Users have grown from a little over 12,000 citizen and business transactions in 2003 to 596,000 last year. It has been an honor to work with such a tremendous team, for such a supportive state partner for the past 10 years. I see very exciting things on the horizon for 2014 and am thrilled to be part of a brighter tomorrow for Rhode Island.

Tom Viall General Manager,


Giving Back to Rhode Island


he team is very apprecia-

awareness of the inherent dangers in law

tive of the support we get from

enforcement and to support the families

the thousands of local citizens

of fallen officers as he rides the Memorial

and businesses that use our eGovern-

Harley-Davidson to each state Capitol.

ment services every month. As we are so

To date, Ride4Cops has raised more than

engrained in the Ocean State, we under-

$350,000 for the families of fallen officers.

stand the importance of giving back – both

Governor Chafee, Secretary of State

as individuals, as a company, and as part of

Mollis, Attorney General Peter Kilmartin,

a larger corporate family.

and representatives from law enforcement

During the holiday season, we did not

from across the state welcomed Harry

forget those families in Rhode Island who

to the statehouse after a motorcycle rally

might be struggling, so for the third consec-

originating at the Department of Public

utive year, we gave generously to the Toys

Safety headquarters in Scituate. At a truly

for Tots program. In October, the portal

memorable ceremony, they were joined by

team combined our Wellness Initiative and

survivor families and together honored the

our company stewardship by participating

47 police officers who have lost their lives

in The Color Run to benefit Providence

serving the people of Rhode Island.

Parks. Four brave team members

The Ocean State marked the 26th state

dashed through the downtown area while

capitol Harry has visited since starting his

being doused from head to toe in different

ride in 2009.

colors at each kilometer. One of the highlights of 2013 was our

A happy and determined design team

Whether it be blood drives, pro bono design and Web work, or helping those in

Ride4Cops event. Founded by Harry

need – we take great pride in not just our

Herington, a former law enforcement officer

eGovernment services but also the commu-

and CEO of NIC Inc., the parent company

nity service we offer each year to our fellow

of, the Ride4Cops mission is to raise

Rhode Islanders.

Color runners – ready, set, go

The Color Run Team


Our Customer Service Commitment


he very nature of our innovative self-funded model dictates that Rhode Islanders have an easy and successful experience when using any one

of the more than 100 eGovernment services we offer. To ensure that none of our feedback emails or phone calls ever “fall through the cracks,” the portal utilizes a customer service case management system to manage, track, tag, and trend all portal feedback and support. When a feedback email or call comes into our office a ticket in our system is created. If our front-line customer service representative can’t immediately address the inquiry, the ticket will be assigned to a project or technical resource for further assistance. Our customer service system tracks all the communication between the user and our portal team until the issue is resolved and the ticket closed. Along with making sure that all users receive the help they

NIC CEO Harry Herington

need, the “trending” and “tagging” functionality of our customer service system offers the added benefit of improving our services for all users. Using the tagging function, we can sort our feedback to identify what types of services produced the most help tickets. The portal team can then focus on that unique online service or portal area to make improvements. By keeping track of the overall trend of ticket volumes, we can evaluate the success of these improvements. Among the most valuable features of our customer service system is the ability to maintain a library of clear and concise instructions for some of the more common problems our users encounter, like directions for resetting passwords. With a single click our customer service representatives can quickly respond, ensuring the user’s request is addressed Rally to the Statehouse

AG Kilmartin

quickly and constantly. In 2013 the portal answered 1,981 customer tickets. Eight hundred sixty-one were questions about the many online services we offer for the DMV, such as registration and license renewals. Taxation services generated the second-largest number of tickets with 398, and the Department of Environmental Management was third with 192 requests. Not all the feedback we get at involves questions about our services. Many users contact with questions, issues, and even suggestions for other state offices and entities. We make sure these inquires are either routed directly to the correct agency or that the user is provided with the proper contact information. Of course our favorite type of feedback comes from users who have benefited from our commitment to customer service: “Thanks for helping us out on our ‘error code’ mishap of yesterday; you and your group have taken the old perception of ‘broken admin in

Remembering fallen officers

RI’ and put a much nicer spin on dealing with government.” We always love it when we can answer a feedback in one word: “Thanks!” n RHODE ISLAND STATE REPORT 2013 | 5

Online Payments


n 2013 collected nearly $26 million in online payments

of Common Checkout, the state was able to avoid the tens

on behalf of the State of Rhode Island. Each of our 829,449

of thousand of dollars associated with the costs of security

secure transactions was processed through TPE – our award-

compliance that would have been necessary if they had elected to process the payments internally.

winning Transaction Processing Engine.

TPE has been specifically designed by our parent company,

The Narragansett Bay Commission also utilizes

NIC, to process secure credit card and e-check payments

payment systems to process both credit card and e-check

on behalf of our government partners – including the state

payments for their customers. In 2013, accommodated

of Rhode Island. TPE includes a robust administrative and

46,874 sewer use payments and collected nearly $7 million on

reporting component for the handling of all administration

behalf of the commission.

tasks necessary to operate and manage e-commerce transac-

Another add-on to TPE is our Over-The-Counter payment

tions. Multiple Rhode Island agencies can use the same online

system (OTC). has been offering OTC to various Rhode

administrative tools to manage customer service inquiries,

Island agencies for more than five years. Agencies include the

perform refunds and voids, and prepare reports. Depart-

Contractors’ Registration and Licensing Board, the Department

ment accounting staff can also access robust reporting tools

of Labor and Training, and the Department of Environmental

to generate reports and statistics that bridge application and

Management, as well as several RI municipalities – and that

organizational boundaries.

list is growing all the time. OTC allows these agencies to

In 2013, the Department of Business Regulation (DBR)

efficiently and securely add credit cards as an option at the

utilized Common Checkout – an add-on module to TPE – for

counter for those customers who might not wish to pay with

their new enterprise licensing system. When a DBR customer

cash or check.

is done obtaining or renewing their license, the state-hosted

While will continue to specialize in custom end-

licensing system seamlessly redirects the user to Common

to-end online services, our stand-alone electronic payment

Checkout for payment. The system accommodates

options continue to offer the state a value-added alternative

every step of the payment – from credit card entry and autho-

to custom development. Thanks to TPE, Common Checkout,

rization to the emailed receipt. Once the payment has been

and OTC, agencies can quickly and securely offer credit card

processed through TPE, Common Checkout automatically

and e-check payments for their existing services, or those

returns the user back to the DBR system. Through their use

purchased from other companies.

Building a Better T

his past October the portal team

the testing, including locations and times. The

“Looking at the home page, what are your

conducted three user behavior

ad garnered 7,140 impressions and resulted

first impressions?” The questions mirrored

sessions around the Ocean State to test

in securing our 15 test volunteers – a perfect

the tasks that we had presented during our

our design concepts for the home

number for true behavior measurement.

2010 testing sessions so we could gauge the

page. As an incentive, we offered Dunkin’

To gather our data used

success of our design changes.

Donuts gift cards to those willing to help

Silverback, specialized software that

us evaluate the “user friendliness” of the

simultaneously tracks the users’ mouse

ered that the improvements we had

site. We sought our volunteers from the

movements on the screen while recording

made to our search tool were extremely

Newport Visitor Center, the Providence

the users’ facial expressions. The volun-

successful, cutting the individual session

Place Mall, and the Warwick Mall.

The data proved very useful. We discov-

teers were given a series of tasks to

times in half. In 2010 the average session used social media to promote the

complete, such as “Can you navigate to

had been 10 minutes in length while in

user-testing sessions. Our team boosted the

the governor ’s home page?” Our testers

2013 the average session was reduced to Facebook page to post notices about

were also asked general questions, such as

just five minutes. n


Valued Partnership – The RI DMV Moving From In Line to Online


n March of 2013, Rhode Island

relationship started with the development of

at a time. Some of the portal’s most recent

Governor Lincoln Chafee proudly

the Vehicle Registration Renewal service in

services include the ability for citizens to

heralded the many positive changes that

2003. In the past 10 years more than 800,000

update their address, check their status for

were transforming the Division of Motor

vehicles have been renewed through the

violations, and renew their driver’s license,

Vehicles into a more customer-friendly

system. Moreover, this high-value service

and for dealers to issue temporary license

and efficient agency. Along with the hard

has always been offered at no added cost

plates on demand.

work of the DMV staff, he attributed the

to the citizens of Rhode Island, being fully

fulfillment of his pledge to “fix the DMV”

supported by the portal’s innovative self-

trade magazine, DMV Chief Administrator

to the growing number of online services

funded enterprise model.

Anthony Silva had this to say about the

available to RI citizens and businesses.

Over the years, has worked side by

In a recent issue of MOVE, a government

Rhode Island Driver’s License Renewal

“By putting more services online, we are

side with the DMV to create 14 additional

service, “The program is extremely user

making DMV transactions more convenient

online services – with more being planned

friendly and it’s offered to Rhode Island

and less time consuming for both online

next year. From managing schedules for

residents 24 hours a day, seven days a week,

and in-person customers.

road tests, to issuing oversize/overweight

365 days a year” … “It’s like the DMV never

trucking permits … continues to

closes, and I think that’s the beauty of it. It’s

make the DMV more efficient, one service

almost like having a DMV in your home.” n is proud of our decade long partnership with the DMV. Our close

Responding to Mobile


n 2012,, the official state government portal for Rhode

“out of the box” solution to ensure that the Portal’s many online

Island, became the first state site in the country to embrace two

applications were prepared to serve the next generation of Rhode

unique design methods: mobile first and responsive design.

Islanders – no matter how they wished to access the site.

This change was an important one to

Simply put, responsive design

make. Our analytics – the data that

uses a technique called media

tracks how a user accesses the site

queries to determine the user’s

– clearly shows the strong growth

browser dimensions. Based on size,

in visitors using mobile devices like

the appropriate design is dynami-

smartphones and tablets to access

cally selected to format the content content and services.

for the ideal user experience.

This became overly apparent on

The advantage of this approach

election night when visitors to the

is that the team only had

portal’s online service for real-time

to manage one content base vs.

election results garnered more than

managing specialized sites or appli-

250,000 page views. Metrics show that more than 32 percent of that site traffic that evening came from either the iPhone operating system or Android-based browser. While does offer a stand-alone mobile “app” for the

cations designed specifically for mobile, tablet, and desktop. In 2013, the portal team completed the process of converting our formidable list of online services to this new design framework. Rhode Islanders on the move can now renew professional

portal, the task of developing unique and dedicated device-

licenses, access election data, pay more than 50 kinds of taxes,

specific apps for each of the major mobile operating systems

and even renew their driver’s license using any Web-capable

was not an option. The team had to instead develop an

device – regardless of screen size.


One State Street, Suite 401 Providence, RI 02908 (401) 831-8099

© 2014

Positive Government Experiences Working Toward a Common Goal


evolved into secure, click-of-a-button, swipe-

engaged with the people they serve, and

of-a-screen interactions. Today, NIC works

use technology to facilitate efficient and

with more than 3,500 federal, state, and local

secure interactions. Being a part of the NIC

focus, our purpose, and the simple reason

government partners, giving you access to

community allows us to serve as your research

for our existence. We share that common

share ideas across the NIC family, learn best

and development shop as we continue to

goal with you – our partners – and we are

practices, and deploy new services quickly

adapt the latest technology and create new

deeply invested in working with you to

by starting with foundational code deployed

solutions to improve government interactions.

make each and every eGovernment interac-

elsewhere by NIC partners.

As technology evolves, our focus will remain

t NIC, we are passionate about making government more accessible to everyone. It is our sole

tion a positive one. Whether it is renewing a license, applying for a permit, filing court documents, finding important emergency information, or any

United Shield Against Cybersecurity Attacks When it comes to security, the job of

on delivering you the latest innovation. There is the saying, “It takes a village.” At NIC we believe the very best in eGovernment services require a community.

other application taken from our robust library

protecting sensitive information is in the

Working together is key when it comes

of 9,700 online services and more than 150

hands of our partnership. We are both only

to staying true to our shared passion of

mobile applications, you can trust us to bridge

successful when citizens and businesses feel

making government more accessible to

the gap between your needs and the needs of

secure about sharing information. Together,

citizens and businesses. Count on NIC to

the citizens and businesses you serve.

we form the shield to help do all that we can

bring convenience, efficiency, security, and

to protect against cybersecurity breaches

innovation to you and your constituents in

that can damage credibility, reputation, and

every single service we bring online. Then

consumer confidence for everyone involved.

people can focus on what they love to do

One Community More than two decades ago, NIC pioneered the eGovernment industry by revolutionizing the way people do business with all levels of government. The paperintensive, wait-in-line ways of the past

Your Responsive Partner We hear you. In this day and age, it is extremely important for government to be

and follow their own passion in life, whether it is growing their business, or simply spending time with their families. Together, we make it happen.

Rhode Island State Report 2013  
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