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Port Orchard screening new Web site providers

Thus far there is no viable local bidder.

The city of Port Orchard is currently examining the second round of proposals submitted to develop its new Web site, but none of the 10 or so finalists originate in Kitsap County.

“We had one proposal that came from Bremerton but it was late and was disqualified,” said Mayor Lary Coppola. “I’m disappointed that we didn’t get a local bidder. I would have liked to have spent this money in Kitsap County.”

Coppola has the final say about who gets the contract as long as it falls within the $5,000 limit imposed by the city council.

In the meantime he will receive recommendations from a committee that includes Information Technology Manager Vince Tucker and City Councilman Fred Chang.

Tucker said he hopes to award the bid in August, after which it will take 45 to 60 days to complete the site upgrade.

This is the first major revision to the city’s Web site, which first went online in 2004. Tucker admits the city was “behind the curve” in the development of the site and is similarly lagging in comparison to other municipalities.

Coppola said he would like the Web site to facilitate the connection between the people and the city, making it possible for the public to pay utilities and apply for permits online, among other functions.

“A good Web site is a cost-effective tool,” he said. “We need to be able to maximize its effectiveness and minimize expense. It’s a lot cheaper to send someone an e-mail bill than to print out the bill, put it in an envelope and attach a stamp.” 

Tucker said his goal was the ability to update the site quickly, so the public has the most current information.

He said the new site needs to be clear and easy to understand, offering municipal sites for Poulsbo and Gig Harbor as examples.

The site is also restricted by available funds, since there is nothing in the budget to support a full-time webmaster.

“Some departments will be able to post updates, but I’m pretty much going to do all of it myself,” Tucker said.

Since establishing the Web site, www.cityofportorchard.us, the city has not tracked or analyzed usage numbers. Tucker said he had “no idea” how many visitors the Web site attracted, and what they did while connected.

Additionally, neither Tucker nor Coppola had any idea as to how many people in the city had access to computers or the knowledge to use them. But even if there exists a digital divide, enough residents go online to conduct their daily business.

“The Internet is not a fad,” Coppola said. “It’s not going away.”

Tucker would not venture a guess about the comparative computer literacy of the city and had no idea how to assemble such information. He did say that Port Orchard is no more or less computer savvy than the rest of the country, and that his strategy is guided “by the world we live in and what people expect of us.”

About 21 companies submitted bid proposals, with Chang and Tucker winnowing out those that were unqualified or too expensive. The two plan to meet in the near future to further narrow the field.

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