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
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
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 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.
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
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'
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.