Websites are an important tool. It's the world we live in. It's no surprise that state government agencies are jumping on the bandwagon. But what is that costing taxpayers?
In 2010, Oklahoma entered into its latest contract with Oklahoma Interactive (OI), a company that provides website services and processes online payments for government agencies through its web portal, OK.gov - but at a cost to all of us. The company collects a portion of fees users pay to conduct those online transactions.
For example, in 2013, fee payments to OI totaled $5.9 million, according to information provided to the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES). Collecting on average several million a year in fees, that came to more than $17 million paid to OI over the five-year deal. The company earns additional money by responding to specific web content needs at individual state agencies.
Earlier this year, the state decided not to renew OI's contract. Officials said they wanted to give agencies more options. But we've learned that workers at some agencies feel OI hasn't yet completed the work on their websites that they were expected to do and that some of the work they did was substandard.
An OMES spokesman wasn't aware of any specific complaints and said whether OI adequately completed the terms of its contract is a legal issue that they've had no reason to address. The state's contract with OI officially ends Dec. 31, but the company will continue work with agencies through the end of March.