Sunday, July 8, 2012

Redesign of Mississippi's government website missing important information

It looks as though the state's government website,, has gone through an update.  The State hired NIC, Inc. (NASDAQ: EGOV) to perform the redesign.  You can review the contract between Mississippi and NIC here.

There's no doubt that the usability of the website is improved.  Links to pages where you can renew your driver's or fishing license are easy to find, as is the link to Transparency Mississippi, where you delve into the numbers behind state government.  Numbers like these:

Agencies with highest number of state employees

  1. Department of Transportation - 3,335
  2. Department of Human Services - 3,301
  3. Department of Corrections - 2,819
  4. Department of Health - 2,407
  5. Mississippi State Hospital - 2,014
Budget allocation for Department of Education
  1. FY2012 - $3,249,593,330.00
  2. FY2011 - $3,305,405,735.00
  3. FY2010 - $3,459,958,045.00
  4. FY2009 - $3,301,032,876.00
  5. FY2008 - $3,284,285,837.00
What you won't see, but should, are the numbers that show the mess we're in, the plans for getting out of it, and how well those plans are working.  The reason you won't see those things are because they are not what motivates a majority of statewide elected officials and members of the Legislature.  And they don't motivate them because we give those politicians the impression that those things don't bother us, either.

So as a state, instead of recognizing that we're doing a terrible job preparing our kids to enter a world that is more sexually-explicit each day, we pretend that more Jesus and less condoms is the magic formula that will save our kids from gonorrhea and teen pregnancy.  Rather than investing in our education system so we can get off the bottom and one day offer a strong workforce to companies looking to locate here, we continue to underfund it.  And instead of doing something about the roughly 20% of us without health insurance, people line up for the chance to shoot the bird at an exceedingly generous federal program that benefits Mississippi almost more than any other state.

You'll find a lot of links on the State's new website to make interacting with state government a bit easier.  But if you want any real answers to Mississippi's problems, don't look there.  If you want those, you're going to have to look inside yourselves.

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