Now for Some Good News: State of North Dakota Getting Their Online Act Together

The state Capitol in Bismarck. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service

My job is to write critically about things in government. Politicians and campaigns. Public policy. Waste and abuse of taxpayer resources. That sort of thing.

But every once in a while even I get tired of that. So when I read this article about the efforts the State of North Dakota is making in providing better websites for our state government, while saving time and money, I thought it was worth sharing.

“North Dakota has saved more than $500,000 by moving 26 agencies to a common website platform based on Drupal,” Stephanie Kanowitz reports for GCN.

She goes on to describe a standardization effort by North Dakota’s IT officials which will allow the policymakers in the state’s various branches and departments keep some autonomy over their websites (the content and how they work, etc., etc.) while hosting those websites on a common system. That matters not just for ease of administrating the various websites, but also maintaining them.

Think things like security patches. Instead of a hodgepodge of different platforms, the state is moving toward having just one.

It’s a big deal, if not the sexiest topic to write about, and I suspect we’re going to save a lot more than $500,000 as a result going forward.

Not only that, but the public-facing user experience should improve as well. As in citizens could have a single State of North Dakota log in account for handling everything from hunting and fishing licenses to motor vehicle registrations to business filings.

This sort of streamlining was something Governor Doug Burgum campaigned on in 2016. The wheels of government move slow, but the progress here is real and should pay dividends for taxpayers in very real and practical ways.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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