Utah Discovers That Moving A Mundane Chore Online Is Highly Popular

By Dan Orzech

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Utah, like lots of states, licenses dentists. It also licenses contractors, physicians, security guards, social workers, and veterinarians -- in all, more than 160 types of professions.

And every two years, each one of those licenses has to be renewed. That means filling out paper forms, writing a check and mailing them in to the proper state office.

Until now. In March, the State of Utah launched an online system for renewing professional licenses. The program has become one of the most popular services at www.Utah.gov, the state's official Web site.

More than 150,000 Utah residents work in professions that require state licenses.

Professionals renewing a license in Utah pay a fee of $2.50 to renew online. That seems to be a small price to pay for the convenience of not dealing with paper forms and post offices: More than 30% of all Utah professionals whose licenses have come up for renewal since the service began have renewed them over the Internet.

Licenses can be renewed in less than five minutes online. The system requests the license number, renewal ID number, and the last four digits of the licensee's social security number. After answering questions about criminal convictions, disciplinary actions, and continuing education activities, an online affidavit affirming identity can be completed. Renewal fees can be paid by credit card or with a Utah.gov subscriber account.

The Utah Department of Commerce's Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing is in charge of the system, which was built and is managed by Utah Interactive, a wholly owned subsidiary of the eGovernment firm NIC.

The system is part of an aggressive statewide eGovernment effort. Utah Governor Mike Leavitt has set a goal of offering all appropriate state government services online by 2004.