The Origins of the North Star Project (Minnesota E-Government) – By Steven Clift – 1994

The Origins of the North Star Project


In July 1997, North Star will become the official public sector-wide government online project for Minnesota.
It received a $935,000 total budget for two years and has its “legal operating system” now in law.

With an eye to the future, I thought it might be useful to reflect on where we have come from and what a
tremendous success it is to have finally received both Executive and Legislative support for moving
aggressively forward with electronic access to government information and services.

In January 1994 a draft proposal for a coordinated government online service was released. The Minnesota Public
Information Network name was quickly dropped for Access Minnesota.   When the legislature changed direction
toward a policy council, the Government Information Access Council, the name Access Minnesota was given to the
Extension Service-led Internet public access terminal project.  The Government Information Access Council was
formed in the fall of 1994 and will cease to exist in July, 1997.  North Star, work started as a demonstration
project through GIAC/Information Policy Office/Department of Administration/ University of Minnesota in the
winter of 1995 with a public launch that summer.  In the summer of 1996 North Star was transferred with GIAC to
the new, and now legislatively confirmed, Office of Technology.

For more information on the current North Star Project, please see:

Sincerely, Steven Clift Project Coordinator, North Star June 2, 1997

Date: Monday, 24 January 1994 10:48am CT To:,,,,,,, STEVEN.CLIFT From:
STEVEN.CLIFT@MNEMC2 Subject: Legislative Proposal – Minnesota Public Information Network (DRAFT)

This is a DRAFT proposal from the Electronic Access to Public Information Task Force of the Information Policy
Office, Minnesota Department of Administration.  This is probably the first time a draft proposal of this
nature has been released electronically within government and to the public in Minnesota.

Please send us your comments and suggestions by February 4, 1994 as indicated in the text of this document.  As
of January 20, this proposal has been presented to the full Electronic Access Task Force and the Information
Policy Council.  They are just beginning to review this proposal.  The one thing that is guaranteed is that
this proposal will change as it moves toward and through the legislature process.  This draft proposal is more
of a concept paper and much of this proposed activity does not require legislative action, but the overall
concept and funding will need legislative support.

While I have been researching and developing this proposal since early fall, (I have been on the Internet for
two years and run a public policy (PUBPOL-L) electronic mail list at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs)
the timing of its release is very good. It should be of interest to a number of people and gain some public
attention.  On a lighter note, I think government interest was illustrated by the good turnout we had at our
Task Force meeting on January 18 when it was about -20F.  I have a new theory about why Minnesota is known for
having innovative government programs: we spend our cold winters thinking up good ideas for public services
because there is little to distract us.  If this is a relative theory inversely related to how cold it is, the
Minnesota Public Information Network should be a great proposal.  However, we need your feedback to ensure that
it is developed with broad government and public support.


Steven L. Clift Information Policy Office


Information Policy Office Department of Administration State of Minnesota January 18, 1994 Electronic Version –
Release 1.1

Prepared by Steven Clift Information Policy Office For the Electronic Access to Public Information Ad-hoc Task

MINNESOTA PUBLIC INFORMATION NETWORK Legislative Proposal – Draft for Review and Comment


During the 1993 legislative session, a proposal was introduced that raised a number of issues around the
need to improve public access to government information and the delivery of services through the use of
information technology.  The Information Policy Office, with the support of the Information Policy Council,
established the Ad-Hoc Electronic Access to Public Information Task Force to address those issues and propose
an overall strategy for coordinated state-wide electronic public access and service delivery.


The Minnesota Public Information Network will be established to improve public access to government
information and the delivery of government services through the use of information technology.  This draft
legislative proposal covers the purpose, responsibility, and authority of the MPIN.  The MPIN will assist
government planning, coordination, and collaboration to ensure that the public interest is served through the
creation of an open, accessible, and organized electronic communication enviroment for the citizen’s
interaction with government. It will develop access methods to government information through a common access
point that use multiple information technologies.

Most information and services will be provided by State agencies, local governments, educational
institutions, libraries, and other government units through the expanding government information networks. This
proposal takes the approach that the use of information technology in services to the public need to be
integrated into the work of a government unit.  It also defines a set of information resources, the “Tools of
Democracy” that are important for citizen participation and should be made available at no or low cost.

It is proposed that the MPIN be administered through the Department of Administration.  A direct
Legislative funding request will be developed and it is likely that Federal matching funds will exist for
planning and demonstration projects.  The final section lists a number of recommended changes to the Data
Practices Act to ensure electronic access to public information and it addresses some other  important issues.

Comments and Suggestions

This proposal will be widely circulated in both paper and electronic formats.  Written comments and
suggestions are requested through Friday, February 4, 1994.  The proposal will then be written into legislative
form for consideration during the upcoming legislative session later in the month.  Please send your comments
to the IPO:

Electronic Access to Public Information Task Force c/o Steven Clift Information Policy Office Minnesota
Department of Administration 320 Centennial Office Building St. Paul, MN 55155

Telephone: (612)297-5561


Electronic Mail:


1.0 Overview – A Time for Action

The time for action is here.   The demand for government services is outstripping the public resources
available.  This requires that Minnesota develop more effective and efficent ways to deliver public services.
The use of information technology in the interactions between the public and government will be a public
investment that will allow us to develop those methods.

We are in a new information era and with it comes opportunities for the citizens of Minnesota and their
government.  Advancing information technologies and expanding information networks make the citizen a more
active and energetic information consumer and producer.  The challenge for our democratic society and its
governing institutions is to determine how we will use this energy and possibility to address the public
challenges that face us all.

Whether it is Vice-President Al Gore giving a speech about the “information super highway,” another cable
and telephone company partnership, or a story about the millions of people using electronic mail, we sense that
a fundamental shift in how communication determines what kind of world we live in is occurring.  The State of
Minnesota must begin to address these challenges by concentrating its efforts on organizing a portion of this
new communications environment.

The Minnesota Public Information Network (MPIN) will be established to improve public access to government
information and to improve the delivery of services to the public.  The general purpose of the Minnesota Public
Information Network is to make government more open, efficient, effective, and responsive to each and every
citizen through the application and use of a wide array of information technologies.  It will help build and
organize an electronic communications environment that will allow the citizen to interact with all levels of
government by concentrating on improving public access to government information and the delivery of public

While the private sector and government as a whole addresses the building of the “information super-
highway,” and the development of more advanced information technologies, the Minnesota Public Information
Network will create a central coordination point for government information in electronic form.  It will be
built with citizen, government, and private sector involvement and with the needs of the information consumer
in mind.  While the Nation determines what “universal service,” “open access,” or “public-right-of-way” will
mean in this new information age, Minnesota will work to ensure that its citizens have information tools,
resources, and services to make those concepts mean something.

Note:  The flow chart graphic has been omitted from the electronic version.  If you are located within North
America and would like a copy, I will fax it to you upon request. Please send me an e-mail message at
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX with subject: Fax Chart Request.


Minnesota Public Information Network


The MPIN will be responsible for developing a state- wide, comprehensive, and coordinated public access
system to government information and services.  It will provide leadership in planning and help set Minnesota’s
direction in the creation of major government information resources and initiatives geared toward the public.
It will help coordinate and bring together demonstration and planning projects.  It will work to ensure that
the public interest is served through the creation of an open, accessible, and organized electronic
communication environment for the citizens and their government.

2.1 Guiding Principles

1.  It is in the public interest to improve and promote public access to government information in electronic

2.  It is in the public interest to use information technology to improve the delivery of public services and
to encourage more convenient and efficient transactions between the public and government.

3.  The application of information technology in communications between government and the citizen is by its
very nature interactive and should be used to help the citizen access and develop an interchange with
government institutions.

4.  Scarce resources and significant costs make it imperative that government entities at all levels coordinate
their efforts and integrate these activities into the whole of their organizations in order to achieve the best
possible outcome for the public.

5.  Government collaboration and cooperation must ensure the inter-operability of public access systems, a
diversity of information sources, and the development of an open, accessible, and organized electronic
communication environment that is user-friendly.

6.  This communications environment must be designed from the citizens’ perspective and allow for broad public
involvement in its growth and development.  The public access system should also be developed with an
understanding of the global nature of information networks and of the important role the private sector will
play in the development of the Nation’s information infrastructure.

7.  The MPIN must work to ensure universal service and open access to government information and services
through libraries, schools, businesses, and homes through telecommunications and information networks.

2.2 Responsibilities and Authority

1. Lead statewide planning efforts and assist state agencies, local government, educational and other public
sector entities in the planning and development of information resources and services geared toward the public.

2. Coordinate and assist demonstration projects at all levels of government in this area.  With sufficient
funding, the MPIN will help support initiatives requiring matching funds from the Federal government or other
funding sources. (See funding section 5.0)

3. Ensure inter-governmental coordination and collaboration and the adoption of general standards and protocols
where appropriate.  These standards must be flexible and anticipate the introduction of new technologies and

4.  Ensure that planning and project evaluation efforts include public involvement and user feedback.  This
should also include an evaluation of consumer interest and demand.

5.  Develop a pro-active approach in the promotion of public access to government information and improved
delivery of services.

6.  Develop outreach, training, and education efforts geared toward the public and government.

7.  Develop positive relationships with community-based and civic networks, Freenets, commercial information
services in order to broaden public access to the state-wide public access system.

8.  The MPIN is not authorized to serve as a network service provider (i.e. full Internet access, sale of
individual electronic mail accounts, etc.), where other commercial, non-profit, Internet providers and
government telecommunications networks are more appropriate. (i.e. USWest, Minnesota Regional Net, MNet
(STARS), etc.)


3.1 Common Access Point and Government Information Locator System

The MPIN will create a government information locator system and a common access point.  The common access
point will bring together all networked government information resources and services in order to present a
“single-face” to government that is organized and user-friendly.  The government information locator system
would provide details on possible government information resources and provide directions on where to obtain
government information not accessible through the common access point.

The distributed nature of government information networks and resources will require an approach that
understands that participating government units will likely be the primary information creators and providers.
Also, the expansion and increasing inter-operability of government information networks and the need for
government agencies to integrate electronic access and service delivery in to their work at all levels, will
require a coordinated approach. The past models of information service centralization will not meet the
requirements of the new information age.

These systems will be accessible through the Internet (see Section 3.5) and through dial-up connections
with a modem and computer.  As digital data networks expand, whether it be through a “digital dial-tone” or
through cable television lines, the MPIN will seek to ensure that these services are accessible through those
networks.  Also, the common access point must support widely accepted network applications and government
information resources must be flexible enough to allow access through multiple interfaces and applications.

During its initial phase, the common access point will provide access to Minnesota government based
information servers that are geared toward the public, government sponsored computer bulletin boards and
databases, library catalogs, local, educational, Federal and other important public sector information
resources and to the “Tools of Democracy” which are described in the next section.


3.2  General Information and Services

State agencies, local governments, educational institutions, and other units of government produce and
distribute information in the pursuit of their mission. This is the kind of information that governments are
beginning to distribute electronically.  In most cases, through information servers housed at a government
agency, they will provide access to the electronic equivalent of newsletters, brochures, press releases,
reports, and other publications.  Of the 14 government agencies present at the first Electronic Access to
Public Information Task Force meeting in October 1993, almost all reported current activities or plans in this

Governments are also developing more convenient and efficient ways to deliver services to the public
through the use of information technology.  These transactions with government may take place in the home, at a
public access terminal, or through an information kiosk.  Examples of services include renewing motor vehicle
tabs, ordering an official copy of a birth certificate for mail delivery, or registering for an interview at
your local Jobs and Training Office.

3.3 “Tools of Democracy”

The MPIN will plan and help develop major state-wide information resources and tools that will provide
means to help the citizen access the government bureaucracy, find government information, offices, and
services, and improve democratic participation.  These core information resources must be made available to the
general public at no or low cost.  Local and regional units of government will be encouraged to complement
these tools with information resources that encompass similar information geared toward their citizens. The
“Tools of Democracy” include:

A.  Directory of Government Services and Institutions –

This directory would be a combination of the State Telephone Directory and the Guide to State Agency
Services which would eventually cover all levels of government and allow for easy access to government contacts
within government and by the public. (A Request for Proposals has been issued by the State for the integration
of disparate electronic mail systems and for directory services which should offer a base for activities in
this area.)

B. Legislative Information –

The MPIN will work with the State Legislature and the Revisor’s Office to provide electronic public access
to legislative information including public information newsletters, bill text and summaries, meeting
schedules, research reports, and other information vital to promoting citizen participation and understanding
of the legislative process.  This also includes electronic access to the basic text of the State Statutes and
Rules.  (The House of Representatives and the Revisor’s Office have developed “Gopher” servers that are
accessible through the Internet at: .  It is likely that these legislative
branch gopher servers are currently the most developed in the world.)

C.  Governor’s Office, Constitutional Officers, and Executive Branch Information –

The MPIN will work with the Governor’s Office to make important documents, releases, speeches and
proclamations available to the public in electronic form.  Much of the core information about the Executive
Branch and information from the offices of other Constitutional Officers will be contained in the “Directory.”
The MPIN will provide access to the information resources and services developed and maintained by those
offices through the common access point.

D.  State Virtual Public Library –

Working with the various networks of libraries in Minnesota, an information system containing the
digitized text of important government documents and publications will be created.  This is a long-term project
that will require planning, the major involvement of the State’s libraries, and an allocation of resources.

3.4  Fee-Based Services and Transactions

Many of the services of this type would likely find an increase in demand for their services if they made
them available through the common access point.  The Data Practices Act allows agencies to charge a fee that
recovers demonstrated information development costs when it is commercially valued.  In most cases, this type
of public information is on individuals, entities, or properties. Many of the currently operational government
information services are the result of demand from the private sector for information.  In many cases the State
Legislature has developed special requirements that state agencies fund the provision of those resources
through fees on the information user.  Examples include the electronic provision of business registrations by
the Secretary of State or motor vechicle record searches in the Department of Public Safety. (Section 6.0 more
fully addresses some issues in this area.)

Another type of fee-based service might include an information service geared toward a narrow
constituency. The agency might decide that this service should not be subsidized by the taxpayers as a whole
because the benefits are received by a small portion of the public.  In these cases, the agency may charge no
more than the cost to provide the service.  However, when such a service is made available through the common
access point the agency may be able to support an expanded level of service due to an increase in demand.

The third fee-based arrangement may include the enhanced delivery of a public service or government
product, like a form, license, etc..  In some cases the development of an enhanced level of service may be
supported by what amounts to a surcharge to support the operation and development of that service.  This is
used to support a portion of the costs for a number of kiosk networks in other states.


3.5  Internet and Dial-up Connections

The Internet is often referred to as a precursor to the “information super-highway”.  It is a global
network of networks that allows for the transfer of digital information of all kinds.  It will likely provide
the most cost efficient method to ensure broad public access to government information over the long run.  In
the short-term allowing for dial-up connections and public access terminals to the common access point will
need to be available.

The most frequently cited Internet information server is called “Gopher.”  The software was developed by
the University of Minnesota and is now used around the world to present basic textual information and link
access points to other information systems.   For those with a high-speed data connection, it is possible to
use a program called Mosaic which allows for the use of graphics, linked text, sound, etc. through these
networks.  Also, some cable systems and telephone companies in the United States are now offering high-speed
digital access to the Internet.  The MPIN will work to assist the public sector in efforts to take advantage of
these advancements, but will ensure that technological capacities do not create barriers for the public
attempting to access government information or services.

3.6 Electronic Mail Distribution

The MPIN will develop an information server that can distribute selected government information and
documents through electronic mail and eventually through a fax-back system.  This server will allow most
citizens who have commercial or Internet electronic mail accounts to retrieve documents by sending basic
commands to the server.  This is based on a model currently used by the USDA Extension Service and the
Americans Communicating Electronically initiative.  To test their systems, send an empty e-mail message to: .

This server will also have mailing list capabilities (often referred to as a “listserver”) that will allow
agencies to broadcast or distribute information to established lists of subscribers.  State agencies and other
government units will also be able to use this server to develop electronic mail working groups for a specific
program or within the context of their mission.  This server will not be the host of general social or
political debate which should remain unencumbered by government sanction or oversight.

3.7 Kiosks

The MPIN will be the host for the coordination of an information kiosk initiative.   This initiative will
involve interested State Agencies and other units of government. The information kiosks will be used to improve
the delivery of public services and allow for transaction based services. The MPIN will be responsible for the
development of a general kiosk platform and network for government use in Minnesota.

Kiosk initatives are highly visible and currently provide the best platform for secure transactions
between a member of the public and government services.  The Info/California kiosk effort and the activities of
other states need to be fully examined and the lessons from their experience should be integrated into
Minnesota efforts.

3.8 Clearinghouse

The MPIN will develop a clearinghouse on the use of information technologies, including interactive voice
mail response systems and fax back retrieval systems, used to improve the dissemination of information or
delivery of services to the public.  This clearinghouse will also collect information from sources both inside
and outside of Minnesota on information services and activities used in the public sector.  The MPIN will also
use its electronic mailing list capabilities to establish links for the sharing of knowledge and experience
among those government units using or developing plans to use specific information tools in their interactions
with the public.


1.  The Minnesota Public Information Network will be administered through the Department of Administration.

2.  The Information Policy Council and the Information Policy Office (IPO) will act as the advisory bodies to

3.  The MPIN will create working groups that involve other units of government in statewide planning, the
development of major services, assist with the creation of standards and protocols for public access systems,
and work to integrate the use of information technology into government interaction with the public generally.

4.  The IPO will have the ultimate authority to establish standards and protocols for government organizations
to follow in the development and use of information kiosks, network applications and systems used to access
government information, government computer bulletin board systems, and other systems that allow electronic
access to government information and services.  These standards and protocols must be flexible in nature and
not constrain the use of new technologies and applications.  They must focus on ensuring the development of
user-friendly systems and the creation of common government electronic communication environment.  The MPIN
will work with the IPO in this area.

5.  The IPO and MPIN will report on policy issues that arise during the development and implementation of this
initiative.  They will also lend advice on issues related to government access to the advancing information and
telecommuncations networks and develop policy guidelines and recommendations for legislative action.  The IPO
must address the development of fee guidelines to assist government units in pricing of information services
according to the Data Practices Act.

6.  The MPIN will issue a report during the 1995 Legislative Session on how it proposes to carry out its
mission and meet its responsibilities.


Appropriations and other funds made available to the Minnesota Public Information Network for staff,
operational expenses, and grants will be administered through the Department of Administration.

The majority of the initial planning, demonstration, and general operating resources will come from an
appropriation from the Legislature and matching grants from the Federal government.  The MPIN will explore the
issue of whether it should establish fees to fund a portion of the operating costs and future development of
information resources and public access systems.

It is likely that major public investment in this area will be spread out across all levels of government.
This view fits with the perspective in this proposal that the use of information technology to improve public
access and service delivery must be integrated into the work of government.  The MPIN will assist government
units by developing a state-wide framework and with an appropriate level of funding, issue grants for planning
and demonstration projects in this area.

5.1 Legislative Appropriation

The MPIN will request a $__________________ appropriation for FY95 for the first phase of the development
of this initiative.  They will return to the Legislature with a budget request for FY96-97 during the next
legislative session.

5.2 Federal Matching Grants

The United States Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Administration
(NTIA), will be releasing a request for proposals for its National Information Infrastructure Planning and
Demonstration Grants Program in the near future.

The MPIN will apply for major matching grants in the areas of state planning and demonstration projects.
The total amount to be distributed this year is $26 million. (Pending U.S. Senate approval the authorization
for FY95 is $100 million and FY96 is $150 million.)  It looks like they will be allocating sixty percent for
demonstration grants, twenty percent for local planning and twenty percent for state planning.  Overall, if
Minnesota received only two percent of the total matching grants in these areas it would total over $500,000.

The NTIA expects proposals to come from all levels of government and from other organizations.  With
adequate funding, the MPIN will assist selected Minnesota based proposals.  This assistance may include
contributions toward planning or demonstration projects of up to the full amount required by the Federal
matching grant program.  We will be watching for more details about this program as they emerge.



Minnesota Statutes Section 13.03, Subdivision 1. requires that for public data, “The responsible authority
in every state agency, political subdivision and statewide system shall keep records containing government data
in such an arrangement and condition as to make them easily accessible for convenient use.”  The advancing use
of information technology and information networks in both business and society requires that government
maintain a relative level of convenience.  The amendments to the Data Practices Act will affirm this analysis
by establishing the State’s interest in promoting electronic access to public information and the use of
information technology to improve the delivery of public services and allow for electronic transactions.

6.1 “Tools of Democracy”

Define a core set of government electronic information resources that must be provided at no cost or low
cost to the general public.  These “Tools of Democracy” (as mentioned in the MPIN section) are geared to help
the citizen break through government bureaucracy, find government information, offices, and services, and
improve democratic participation.  The core information resources are:

1. Legislative information, reports, documents, meeting notices and bill text.

2. Releases and official documents of the Governor’s Office

3. Basic text of State Statutes and Rules

4. State Telephone Directory and Guidebook to State Agency Services or a new combined electronic version
thereof. Agency Service’s or a new combined electronic 5. Development of a Statewide Virtual Public Library
over the long-term.

6.2  Equity of Access to Fee-based Services

Government units that provide fee-based information services must also ensure equity of access to public
information contained in those services.  Options include on-site public access terminals, arrangements by the
government unit with public libraries or other institutions, a rebate system, time-based no-fee or subsidized
access (non-peak hours), or a base time or search allotment of free trial access.

Note: The current Statute allows agencies to charge a fee no higher than it costs to provide an information
“service” that goes beyond basic “convenience”.  In cases where the information has “commercial value,” fees
may be set to recover “actual development costs of the information.” The cost savings or benefits to both the
consumer of government information and services and to the government itself will be difficult to measure until
such services are developed.  This proposal, which establishes the “Tools of Democracy”, assumes that
specialized information services created by an agency and a core group of client institutions, for example, may
require a fee based set-up to fund the development and delivery of such a service.  The question of when an
information service should subsidized by the taxpayers as a whole must be viewed within the context of a
government unit’s mission and authority.

6.3  Public Access to Search Tools

Establish the right of public access and use of electronic search and database tools.  In situations where
a government unit has created a database or information system where the value of the information, or
combination/manipulation of pieces of public data is affected by the use those search tools the public shall
have the right to use those search tools.  Government units shall have the authority to determine how best to
ensure access, but it is the State’s interest to promote both on-site and remote access.

6.4  On-site Electronic Inspection

The notion of electronic inspection will be established as it relates to the public’s right to view
information stored on-site in electronic form.  Government units must ensure that the public has access to
public information in whatever form, but may develop policies and procedures that maintain the security of
their information system.  These policies and procedures must not deny the public the right to inspect
government information in a timely manner nor may they inhibit the public’s access to the available public
information.  (In some cases an agency may have an employee assist someone or they may ultimately print the
information and allow inspection that way.)

6.5  Government Subscription-based Publications in Electronic Form

If a government units function is to develop and distribute fee-based subscription based information in
print form, the addition of electronic dissemination or access may be integrated into the overall fee
structure.  A government unit may choose to provide subsidized or free access to past publications and must
provide for electronic dissemination when possible and found to be in the interest of the information consumer.
(i.e. State Register, etc.)

6.6  Monopoly Control Prohibited without Statuatory Exemption

Units of government shall not enter into agreements that provide for exclusive of monopoly control of
public information in electronic form through a single commercial entity unless provided for under Statute.
This does not prohibit non-government entities from offering value-added services that contain public
information.  Also, government units may enter into non-exclusive agreements with commercial or non-profit
information services.

6.7  Commercial Provision of Public Information

The provision or sale of public information by a commercial information provider must contain accurate
information on how and where that information may be obtained directly from government.  This applies to
situations where the information has not been enhanced significantly or was copied from the government
information providers public access system without an agreement between the government unit and the commercial
information provider. This section represents a balance between the private entities right to use the public
information for whatever purpose and the public’s right to access it as established by government.

6.8  MPIN and Non-exclusive Arrangements with Non-Government Entities

The Minnesota Public Information Network is authorized to establish non-exclusive arrangements with
commercial and non-profit information and network service providers.  These arrangements may allow access to
the state-wide public access system through those service providers.  Fees may be established in accordance
with the Data Practices Act, but should be structured to ensure broad public access.   This provision, for
example, could provide for access to the state-wide common access point to be available through a community-
based information network or Freenet at no cost to that provider.  A commercial information provider through
negotiations with the MPIN may be charged a fee associated with the commercial value of the information


Version 1.0 Paper version to Task Force, IPC, and others Version 1.1 Electronic release with minor grammatical

This is short summary that was presented to the Information Policy Council on January 20, 1994:

Minnesota Public Information Network Highlights

The Minnesota Public Information Network will:

*  Improve public access to government information and the delivery of services to the public through the use
of information technology.

*  Help organize an user-friendly electronic communications environment that will allow citizens and businesses
to interact more effectively and efficiently with all levels of government.

*  Lead state-wide planning projects and help bring together demonstration projects from all levels of
government that are geared toward the public.

*  Provide outreach, training, and educational programs for government and the public.

*  Develop a common access point to government information and services that can be accessed through multiple
technologies and applications.  This will include the use of the computers, public-access terminals, and kiosks
through the Internet, dial-up connections, and through future high- speed information networks that will
provide service to homes and businesses.

*  Be funded through an appropriation from the Legislature and through potential Federal matching grants.

* Be located within the Department of Administration and the Information Policy Office and the Information
Policy Council will act as advisory bodies.

State Agencies, Local Governments, Libraries, Educational Institutions, and Other Government Units will:

*  Be the primary information and service providers through the common access point that is coordinated by the
Minnesota Public Information Network.  The expanding information networks will allow government units to
develop, organize, and maintain responsibility for the information and services they provide  from almost any

*  Need to integrate the use of information technology throughout their organization to assist in its dealings
with the public where useful and appropriate.

*  Begin to develop plans and proposals for public information electronic access and service delivery.  The
MPIN will be a major information resource in this area and will help develop collaborative projects that allow
government units to pool their resources and expertise. This will help address budget constraints for both
large and small government organizations

*  Participate in working groups organized by MPIN to help government units share knowledge, expertise, and
develop appropriate and flexible standards and protocols for public access systems.


Comments and Suggestions

Please send in your written comments and suggestions by Friday, February 4, 1994.  The proposal will then be
written into legislative form for consideration during the upcoming legislative session later in the month.

Electronic Access to Public Information Task Force c/o Steven Clift Information Policy Office Minnesota
Department of Administration 320 Centennial Office Building St. Paul, MN 55155

Telephone: (612)297-5561

Electronic Mail: