3. Summary of Major Findings and Recommendations

This chapter summarizes the major findings and recommendations of SCIway Blueprint. It is divided into four sections which match Chapters 4-8.

Providing on-line public information and services that will make life better for South Carolinians (Chapter 4)

Major findings

1.1 The top 10 types of public information that South Carolinians feel should be available on-line through SCIway:

a. Directories of elected officials, appointed officials, and government departments, agencies, offices, boards, commissions, and employees;

b. Recreation, travel, and tourism information-attractions, state and county parks, and hiking trails and camping site maps;

c. Demographic data for cities and towns, counties, metropolitan areas, regions, and state;

d. Job opening listings, especially for local, state, and federal government jobs; job requirements, on-line applications;

e. Historical information about state, counties, cities, towns, places, significant events, wars and battles, and notable citizens;

f. Directories of government services that clearly explain what services are provided by what governments, agencies, and offices; the geographical boundaries of political subdivisions and service districts; and whom to contact about specific services, how to contact them, where to go to obtain services, and hours of operation;

g. Tax information-instructions, rates, laws, rules, assessment procedures, exemptions, deadlines; lists of frequently asked tax questions with answers;

h. Ability to exchange electronic mail with elected officials and government departments, agencies, offices, and employees-in order to ask and answer questions, request services, express opinions, and provide feedback;

i. Economic, income, and employment data for cities and towns, counties, metropolitan areas, regions, and state; and,

j. Information about pending state and local legislation-number, title, and text of House and Senate bills and proposed local ordinances; sponsors, current status, legislative calendars, agendas.

1.2 The top five types of public services that South Carolinians feel should be available on-line through SCIway:

a. On-line library resources and services-catalogs, books and periodicals, holds, interlibrary loan requests, renewals, inquiries, ability to ask questions by e-mail;

b. File, report, pay, and appeal taxes on-line; print tax forms;

c. Apply for and renew vehicle registrations;

d. Register to vote on-line; print voter registration forms; and,

e. Renew driver's licenses.

1.3 In early 1995 there was almost no information about South Carolina governments and public organizations and services on SCIway. Ten state colleges had Gopher servers; five colleges and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources had World-Wide Web sites; and about 15 colleges and county libraries had on-line library catalogs.

1.4 The amount and variety of on-line public information available to South Carolinians have increased exponentially during the past two years. For example, more than 40 state colleges and universities now have Web sites, as do 50-plus state government agencies and offices. Thirty library catalogs can be accessed through SCIway.
1.5 The growth in the quantity of on-line information provided by South Carolina state government has been particularly impressive. Most of these information resources have been developed by state employees and can be accessed through state government's World-Wide Web home page (http://www.state.sc.us).

1.6 On-line local government information resources are being developed at a slower pace. About 20 municipal governments and three county governments now have Web sites. Most of these sites were created within the past six months by local Web developers, and all are hosted by local Internet service providers.

1.7 The Appalachian Council of Governments developed and maintains the AppNet web site, partially funded under the NTIA Planning Grant, which contains a variety of regional information for citizen access, which can be searched by subject (see http://www.acog.greenville.sc.us).

1.8 Close to 200 South Carolina non-profit organizations and groups (ranging from churches to political parties) now have Web sites. Most of these sites are hosted by local Internet service providers, but some are hosted by national or regional organizations.

1.9 At least 50 South Carolina companies are in the business of hosting World-Wide Web sites. About two-thirds of these companies are also Internet access providers. All of these companies host Web sites for businesses and individuals, and many host sites for local governments, schools, and public organizations as well-often at no charge.

1.10 At least 60 South Carolina companies-and countless individuals-design and develop Web sites.

1.11 Most South Carolina state and local government Web sites are part organizational chart and part telephone directory. They typically identify the various departments of a government or offices of a department, and list telephone numbers citizens can call-or addresses they can go to-to obtain answers to questions or services. Many of these sites mistakenly assume that citizens know what services are provided by which governments, departments, and offices.

1.12 Few state or local government Web sites actually provide citizens answers to common questions, on-line forms they need to fill out, or information resources they can search. Notable exceptions include a few city home pages that prominently address "frequently asked questions"; college and county libraries' on-line catalogs; and the complete text of House and Senate bills, state laws, and state agency regulations provided by Legislative Printing and Information Technology Resources.

1.13 While a significant and growing amount of basic public information is available on SCIway, these resources are scattered across more than 100 different computers and are often hard to find. To help people locate the information they need quickly, The Citadel has developed a subject-oriented directory of South Carolina on-line information called SCIway Web (http://www.sciway.net). Work has begun on SCILS - South Carolina Information Locator Service (SCILS), an on-line directory of state government information including documents, services, data records, and publications. The Office of Information Resources of the State Budget and Control Board, the Department of Archives and History, and the State Library are working together to plan and develop the prototype service.

1.14 Top five on-line public information resources and services that South Carolinians want most but that are not yet available:

a. Annotated directories of government services that clearly explain what services are provided by what governments, departments, and offices. These directories are needed most at the local level, and developing good ones will definitely require intergovernmental cooperation and the SCILS project is working in that direction.

b. E-mail addresses for elected officials and government departments, agencies, offices, and employees.

c. Comprehensive information about what jobs are available in South Carolina-especially the job listings of the South Carolina Employment Security Commission.

d. Tax information, on-line forms, answers to e-mail questions-for all types of state and local taxes.

e. On-line state and local service systems that enable citizens to quickly find information and answer questions; apply for services, licenses, and permits; and pay fees and taxes-without having to call or visit a government office.

1.1 The State of South Carolina should establish an appointed on-line information access board similar to the ones that direct the Information Network of Kansas (INK), Nebraska@Online, and the Access Indiana Information Network (AIIN). This board should be responsible for promoting and facilitating electronic access to public information generated and gathered by state government agencies.

a. This board should have ten members, who should be appointed by the Governor. It should include representatives of state agencies that produce information, professional associations, businesses, and interested individuals.

b. The board should be advised by task forces that recommend new services, application development priorities, format and design features, operational policies and procedures, and pricing structures. Like the board, these task forces should include representatives of state agencies, professional associations, businesses, and interested individuals.

c. Through a competitive proposal process, the board should contract the development of a one-stop, on-line state information delivery system to a private company. This company should provide the capital and staff necessary to develop and operate this information access system. No public funds should be used for the creation or operation of the system, and the contract for managing it should be rebid every five years.

d. The on-line information access system should provide general interest information (legislative information, directory information, state agency regulations and application forms, job listings, etc.) free of charge to everyone through the Internet. The cost of providing this information should be paid from the profits earned by the system's business-oriented, limited interest information services.

e. The board's enabling legislation should require all state agencies to provide necessary information and assistance, as requested. In return agencies should be able to bill the board for the actual costs of providing this information and assistance, as specified in contracts between individual agencies and the board. Agencies should also be able to publish free, general interest information independently.

f. Access to information about individual citizens should be governed by existing state and federal laws and regulations.

1.2 City and county governments, public service districts, and school districts should work with state government's on-line information access board, commercial Internet service providers and Web developers, Council of Governments, or local colleges and universities to provide on-line public information and services to the citizens they serve.
1.3 The State of South Carolina should establish a challenge grant program that helps local governments and Councils of Governments provide their citizens on-line information resources and services. This program should be funded by annual legislative appropriations for three fiscal years, beginning in FY 1997-98. The grant matching percentage for poorer governments should be less than the percentage required for wealthier governments.
1.4 South Carolina's colleges and universities, libraries, Council of Governments, and school districts should form network information cooperatives. These co-ops would have the buying power necessary to negotiate favorable local, regional and statewide contracts with companies that publish widely used electronic resources (such as directories, dictionaries, encyclopedias, periodical indexes, and full-text databases). In addition the General Assembly should establish an annual matching fund program that provides additional incentives for the formation and long-term growth of these information co-ops.
1.5 The structure of World-Wide Web sites that provide public information and services should reflect the perspective of citizens who want to find information and use services rather than the viewpoint of government employees who provide information and services. These sites should also have clear, concise text, and their pages should display quickly. Designers should never forget that the primary purpose of on-line public information resources and services is to save citizens time.

Connecting government agencies to SCIway and the Internet (Chapter 5)

Major findings

2.1 The overall state of government agency networking in South Carolina can best be described as uneven. Some agencies have state-of-the-art local area networks and high-speed access to a wide area network and/or the Internet. Other agencies-including most local governments and public libraries and many schools and school districts-have limited network resources, or none at all. State agencies are much more likely to be connected to each other and the Internet than are local government agencies.

2.2 The State Budget and Control Board's Office of Information Resources (OIR) operates a Columbia metropolitan area network called MetroNet as well as five statewide networks-three computer networks, one combination computer and long-distance telephone network, and one video network. Collectively, these six networks are called SCINET.

2.3 Most of South Carolina's larger state agencies use one or more SCINET networks to link their local offices throughout the state with each other and/or with central computers in Columbia.

2.4 All 26 of South Carolina's public colleges and universities have campus computer networks that are linked to the Internet. Eleven of these institutions are connected directly through Internet access providers. The remaining fifteen-mostly technical colleges-are connected through SCINET.

2.5 Hardly any of South Carolina's county, city, or public service district governments have metropolitan or wide area computer networks that connect their various offices and point-of-service locations to each other; and except for a few county libraries, none have dedicated Internet access.

2.6 Of the 39 county and regional library systems that serve South Carolina's 46 counties, about 30 have wide area networks that connect their branches to their main library's on-line catalog. However, only seven have dedicated Internet access (all through local Internet access providers).

2.7 Only one of the State's ten Council of Governments has facility-wide connectivity to the Internet. The Appalachian Council of Government is the only COG in the State with this service.

2.8 The distribution of network resources among South Carolina's 91 public school districts is particularly uneven. Some of the state's richer districts (most of which are located in urban and suburban areas) have world-class local area networks within individual schools, fiber optic wide area networks that link schools and district offices, and high-speed, dedicated Internet access. At the other extreme, some of the state's poorer school districts don't have any networks-and some schools don't even have computers to network.

2.9 In June of 1996, the General Assembly appropriated about $10 million for networking K-12 public schools and connecting them to the Internet. OIR is using this money to help school districts establish wide area networks, to connect these networks to a state network, and to provide all schools high-speed Internet access. By the time this project is completed, about 1,200 schools in 91 school districts will have been connected to SCINET, and South Carolina will be one of the first states in the nation to provide all of its public schools dedicated Internet access.

2.10 Unfortunately most of these FY 1996-97 funds can be spent only for high-speed telephone company lines that link schools to a district wide area network and link districts to SCINET and four regional Internet access aggregation points. While these expenditures will definitely increase the number of schools and school districts that have access to SCIway and the Internet, they will also increase the gap between technology rich schools and technology poor schools (many of which are rural schools) because schools that don't have computers and within-school networks don't need high-speed connections to external networks. These have-less schools will receive low-speed, low-cost dial-up connections instead, at least until they obtain the resources necessary to justify a dedicated connection.

2.11 K-12 school districts connected to SCINET do not provide modems for their students, faculty, and staff to dial in to from home because state government does not currently have in place the necessary contractual arrangements to make the provision of these types of services possible. Initially, the public schools portion of SCINET will be virtually deserted after 3:00 p.m. on weekdays and all day and night Saturdays and Sundays. This policy (just the opposite of Minnesota's recently announced Learning Communities program) will be reviewed in an effort to increase the educational return on taxpayers' investments in technology initiatives.

2.12 K-12 school districts connected to SCINET will not be allowed to provide modems for their students, faculty, and staff to dial in to from home- because state government does not want to take away potential customers from private Internet access providers. Consequently the public schools portion of SCINET will be virtually deserted after 3:00 p.m. on weekdays and all day and night Saturdays and Sundays. This policy (just the opposite of Minnesota's recently announced Learning Communities program) will seriously limit the educational return on taxpayers' investment.

2.13 For the foreseeable future, 95-99 percent of the school traffic on SCINET will be to or from the Internet, simply because there are so few information resources of value to K-12 students and teachers within South Carolina.

2.14 To obtain an adequate return on its K-12 "telecommunications infrastructure" investment, South Carolina must significantly increase the number of personal computers in many of its schools. A highway is not of much value to those who don't have a car.

2.15 Overall, South Carolina state government-and OIR in particular-has followed a prudent, pragmatic strategy in developing statewide network services and capabilities. It has not tried to build an expensive state-owned network (like Iowa's or New Mexico's), and it has not adopted an advanced private sector solution (like North Carolina's ATM network) that most state and local agencies don't yet need and can't afford. Nor has it, by failing to act, encouraged individual state agencies to develop duplicative, wasteful statewide networks. Instead OIR has steered a sensible middle course that has minimized the state's capital investment and maximized its ability to take advantage of future technological advances and increasing competition in the telecommunications industry.

2.16 Most of OIR's networking strategies are heavily dependent on BellSouth. All five of its statewide networks are based on switching and/or multiplexing services provided by BellSouth, none of which have been procured through a competitive bidding process. In part this is because no other company has had comparable statewide switching capabilities. However, with the development of iSCAN's new statewide ATM network, there should be more competition in the future.

2.17 In January 1996 OIR signed a two-year statewide private line long distance service agreement with BellSouth and South Carolina Net (SCNet). Under this contract, which can be extended three additional years at the state's option, BellSouth provides intraLATA leased lines and SCNet provides interLATA lines. MCI submitted an unsuccessful proposal for the interLATA portion of this contract.

2.18 OIR recently extended its state and local government Internet access contract with Info Avenue Internet Services through August 1998. This decision was made after OIR evaluated competing proposals from AT&T, BellSouth, IBM, MCI, and Sprint.

2.19 OIR has no plans to link government agencies and schools to SCIway and the Internet simply by connecting them to the closest local Internet access provider.


2.1 In most cases South Carolina state government should continue to lease metropolitan and wide area network services from private companies. It should not develop a state-owned statewide network. (However, it is cost-effective for state government to own and operate extended local area networks in areas like downtown Columbia and peninsula Charleston, where there are high concentrations of government offices and facilities.)

2.2 State, regional, and local government agencies should implement the TCP/IP communications protocol on their client and server computers as soon as economically feasible. This will increase their ability to share information with each other and provide information and services to state citizens.

2.3 State, regional local government agencies should purchase and implement electronic mail software that uses the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) as soon as economically feasible. This will increase their ability to communicate with each other and with state citizens.

2.4 State, regional, and local governments should take advantage of increasing competition among network services providers (telephone companies, cable television companies, electric utilities, wireless communication companies, Internet access providers, etc.) by procuring network services through open, competitive proposal processes.

2.5 Because communications technology and pricing is changing rapidly and the future is so uncertain, state, regional, and local government agencies should buy and lease only the network products and services they clearly need in the near term. More advanced and expensive technologies such as ATM switching and fiber to the desktop should be avoided until they are more cost-effective and until agencies have a clear and immediate need for them.

2.6 Because of the rapid technological, regulatory, business structure, and pricing changes that are occurring in the communications industry, state, regional, and local governments should enter into only short-term network services contracts (two years at the most).

2.7 The South Carolina General Assembly should continue to appropriate funds that enable K-12 public schools to connect to SCINET and the Internet. However, school districts should be able to use these funds to purchase personal computers and network equipment (routers, DSU/CSUs, local area networks and servers, etc.) as well as telecommunications services and Internet access. This change would enable poorer schools and school districts to obtain the resources they need to make good use of dedicated external network connections.

2.8 Unused funds from the FY 1996-97 appropriation for public schools networking (which will likely be significant) should be used to purchase routers, DSU/CSUs, and local area networks and servers for schools that do not have them.

2.9 All school districts connected to SCINET should provide e-mail accounts to all of their students, teachers, and staff. These accounts should be accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If they are only accessible during school hours, their usefulness will be limited.

2.10 The General Assembly should establish a special technology improvement fund for the use of school districts that have property tax bases (resources) below the state average. The costs of this program should be funded by annual legislative appropriations for five fiscal years, beginning in FY 1997-98. If such a program is not approved, South Carolina's have-less schools will fall even further behind on the information highway.

2.11 OIR should rigorously re-evaluate its networking strategies at least once every two years. As technology and the communications industry change, it is quite possible that what was the most cost-effective approach last year is not this year.

2.12 State, regional, and local governments should closely monitor the development of cable and various "wireless" communication technologies. As these technologies develop, they could significantly reduce the principal cost of connecting government offices and schools to SCINET and the Internet-monthly "first mile" telephone service charges.

2.13 All South Carolina county governments should connect all branches of their county libraries to SCINET or the Internet as soon as possible.

2.14 The State of South Carolina should establish a one-time grant program that helps county governments pay the start-up and first-year communications costs of connecting all of their library branches to SCIway and the Internet. This program should be funded by a single legislative appropriation for FY 1997-98.

2.15 State government should carefully monitor the ongoing development of Federal Communications Commission regulations concerning reduced Universal Service rates for schools and libraries. Once these rates are approved, the state should make sure that South Carolina schools and libraries receive the maximum discounts to which they are entitled.

2.16 Government agencies and schools should connect (and be connected) to SCIway and the Internet in the manner that provides them the fastest, most reliable, most convenient network access for the lowest cost. Exactly what this method is will vary by level of government and by geographic location-and at least for the next few years, it will change constantly. State and local governments should be alert to these changes and flexible enough to take advantage of new approaches quickly.

Helping South Carolinians access SCIway and the Internet (Chapter 6)

Major findings

3.1 Most South Carolinians now have local-call Internet access. In fact more than 90 percent of the state's residents can dial in to at least one Internet access provider from their homes without making a long-distance telephone call because of the increase in number of Internet access providers competing for a share of the South Carolina Market.

3.2 The number of commercial Internet access providers serving South Carolina has increased dramatically during the course of this study-from a handful in early 1995 to more than 60 today. About 60 percent of these companies are based in South Carolina, and most serve only one community or one part of the state.

3.3 Population centers like Charleston, Columbia, Florence, and Greenville-Spartanburg are served by 10 or more Internet access providers, and monthly rates for 125 hours of access are as low as $12.

3.4 Most of the areas within South Carolina that do not yet have local-call Internet access are rural areas located in the central portion of the state. Many other rural areas have only one Internet access provider

3.5 Residents of rural areas often pay more for Internet access because there is less competition among providers in these areas.

3.6 An increasing number of South Carolinians have free Internet access through their employers or through schools and colleges they attend.

3.7 Today the primary barrier to home Internet access (other than lack of interest or knowledge) is the lack of a personal computer and modem-not monthly charges for Internet access. In fact these charges are considerably lower than even basic service cable television charges.

3.8 For at least the past year, Internet watchers have been predicting a "shake-out" in which large national Internet access providers (like AT&T and MCI) gain customers at the expense of smaller providers, many of whom are expected to go out of business. There are no signs that this consolidation process has begun in South Carolina.

3.9 Public libraries are ideal places to locate public access Internet stations because they are open longer hours than most other public facilities and because they are staffed by information professionals whose primary business is helping people find information.


3.1 Local government agencies-especially public library branches-should provide on-site SCIway stations (network or personal computers) that people who don't have network access at home or work can use to access SCIway and Internet information resources and services.

3.2 The State of South Carolina should establish a matching grant program that helps local governments provide SCIway stations in libraries and other public buildings. This program should be funded by annual legislative appropriations for three fiscal years, beginning with FY 1997-98. The grant matching percentage for poorer counties should be less than the percentage required for richer counties.

3.3 Government agencies, colleges and universities, and K-12 schools should seriously consider purchasing network computers (NCs) instead of personal computers (PCs). These new low-cost graphical workstations should enable public organizations to provide network access to more people while at the same time reducing many of the long-term support costs associated with today's PCs.

Helping South Carolinians use SCIway and the Internet effectively

(Chapter 7)

Major findings

4.1 In urban areas of South Carolina Internet training and support are provided by computer dealers, computer training businesses, Internet service providers, college and school continuing education programs, and friends and family members who use computers in their work. But in rural areas considerably less help is available.

4.2 Most South Carolina K-12 teachers and administrators know very little about what educational resources are on the Internet or how they can use Internet access to help their students learn.

4.3 South Carolina colleges and universities generally have more Internet knowledge and experience than any other state or local government organizations


4.1 South Carolina State Library staff should provide SCIway and Internet training and support to county librarians, who should in turn provide similar training and support to local citizens who need them. The General Assembly should increase the State Library's annual budget appropriation to cover the personnel, training materials, and travel costs associated with this program.

4.2 To jump-start the use of network resources in South Carolina's classrooms and to ensure a worthwhile return on taxpayers' investments in network equipment and services for public schools, the state's colleges and universities should offer a series of two-week summer "SCIway Institutes" for K-12 teachers. The credit courses taught at these institutes should be designed in cooperation with the Department of Education and K-12 teachers who are already using Internet resources to help their students learn. The costs of this program should be funded by annual legislative appropriations for three fiscal years, beginning in FY 1997-98. However, the initial costs of designing and organizing the program should be funded by a special appropriation approved early in the 1997 legislative session, so that SCIway Institutes can be offered at least three locations during the summer of 1997.

Planning, coordinating, and promoting the development of SCIway

Major findings

While the State Budget and Control Board does function as the primary agency for central coordination of State governmental services, no single existing State agency, including the Board, was in a position to effectively plan, coordinate, and promote the development of SCIway. Recognizing the need to bring public and private, as well as local and state interests together to address strategic information resources planning, the Governor on March 5, 1996 created by Executive Order the Information Resources Council.


The Governor has created the Information Resources Council as the forum in which guidance and direction in the planning, coordination, and promotion of the development of the public portions of SCIway should occur. It is recommend that the SCIway Blueprint be considered as a focus document for the newly created Information Resources Council.