Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics & Public Service

Project Prologue


Technology: A Hallmark of the Leavitt Administration 1993-2003 In 1993, Governor Leavitt delivered a speech that is now known as his “Electronic Highway” address.  During the speech, the Governor called for:

    • Building a high-speed digital electronic highway as the life-blood of Utah’s “high-paying, high-tech enterprises of the future.”
    • Putting government services online electronically
    • Expansion of the State’s wide area network (WAN) and the use of email and electronic calendaring
    • Calling for employee telecommuting
    • Committing the state to greater use of the Internet, videoconferencing and wireless technologies

Ten years later, Utah has established itself as a leader in many of these areas.

Citizens have 24×7 access to government services Over the past ten years, Utah has made consistent progress in the delivery of online services and information to its citizens. While Utah’s website was rated second nationally as early as 1996, it continues to be a leader in 2003, becoming the first state portal to roll out 24×7 live help this year along with a new portal to serve Utah business (Utah’s Website http://www.utah.gov/index.html).

Examples of Utah’s Online Services http://www.utah.gov/services/citizen.html

    • Vehicle License Renewal
    • Drivers License Renewal
    • Online Tax Payments
    • Campground Reservation
    • Primary Care Network
    • Aircraft Registration
    • Hunting & Fishing Licenses
    • Impounded Vehicle Service
    • Health Insurance Renewal
    • Historical Society Book Sales
    • Marriage Licenses
    • Birth Certificate Purchases
    • Surplus Property Auction
    • One-Stop Business Registration
    • Business Entity Search
    • UCC Filing
    • Nuclear Generator Site Access
    • Purchasing Bid Notification
    • ABC Online Ordering


    • 1995 – State of Utah Web page established along with Governor’s Office, Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, State Library, Division of General Services, and Automated Geographic Reference Center (AGRC) www.utah.gov
    • 1996 – Utah’s homepage wins second place in Best of the Web, among 35 states and 65 cities (Survey https://www.govtech.com/magazines/gt/quotbest-of-the-webquot-winners.html).
    • 1997 – State Library launches the Pioneer home page including the ability to search text and images for over 1,500 journals and periodicals (State Pioneer Home Page https://utahsonlinelibrary.org/).
    • 1999 – Utah creates public/private partnership and the e-Utah “web portal.” Re-designed state homepage page focuses not only on information but also on government services delivered to citizens online. Statewide calendar and press release system established (STATE OF UTAH: TOP 10 ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF 1999 INTEGRATED SERVICE DELIVERY- USING TECHNOLOGY TO SIMPLIFY ACCESS TO GOVERNMENT)
    • 1999 – Digital State Act passed requiring state entities to allow certain services to be transacted on the Internet by July 1, 2002 and Governor issues executive order creating the Utah Electronic Commerce Council to oversee the delivery of online government services (Governor’s Executive Order Forming the Utah Electronic Commerce Council    https://rules.utah.gov/execdocs/1999/e1999-06-04b.htm).
    • 2000 – Multiple government services go online including:
        • Find out if a company is registered to do business in the state (Business Entity Search)
        • Hunting and fishing licenses
        • Pay for services using a credit card
        • Renew motor vehicle plates (Renewal Express)
    • 2001 – Citizens can renew their driver’s licenses online
    • 2001 – Utah is the first state to implement a 511 service, using a combination of voice and Internet technologies (UDOT COMMUTERLINK http://commuterlink.utah.gov/511.aspx)
    • 2002 – EREP contract inked. EREP will develop efficient and integrated services across multiple government eligibility programs. It will complete its first phase in 2003 with cash assistance and other related programs to needy families. This is part of the Governor’s initiative to expand technology projects that cut across the entire state enterprise (STATE OF UTAH EREP PROJECT https://fcw.com/workforce/2003/12/utah-erep-merges-welfare-systems/224733/).
    • 2002 – 102 new government services go online over the last 18 months including searching for unclaimed property; searching an online directory of human service programs; renewing a professional license; registering to vote; paying county and state taxes; and filing for unemployment insurance.
    • 2002 – Parents can now apply online for medical benefits via the children’s health insurance program (CHIP)( KIDS’ HEALTH HOT TOPIC FOR CLINTON, HE FLAYS STATE EFFORTS — JUST BEFORE TALKING AT GOVERNORS MEETING https://spcoll.li.suu.edu/eadfiles/Xe1kcH8BnM5_0W5sJ69V/ms122NW19990809a.pdf, CHIP WEBSITE http://www.chipcoverspakids.com/).
    • 2002 – Governor issues letter to state employees launching an ambitious new framework for the organization and deployment of information technology (IT) services within state government.
      The changes are designed to accelerate state efforts to offer most state government services online by 2004 and improve the efficiency of state government by developing an enterprise approach.
    • 2002 – Utah is one of the first four states to partner in http://www.recreation.gov/, one of 24 national e-government initiatives
    • 2003 – Utah is one of the initial participating states in the development of the National Environmental Information Exchange Network (http://www.exchangenetwork.net/), a partnership which involves EPA and supports open exchange standards
    • 2003 – Utah passes legislation which will eliminate many service fees associated with online citizen services
    • 2003 – Utah’s One-Stop Business Registration is the first eGovernment service of its kind that integrates key business-related transactions from federal, state, and local government into a single seamless process. The system allows new businesses in Utah to simultaneously register and initiate permit processes with the Internal Revenue Service and five state agencies (the Utah State Tax Commission, Labor Commission, Department of Commerce, Department of Workforce Services, and the Department of Environmental Quality).

Three local governments are also partners in the project (Utah’s One-Stop Business Registration https://secure.utah.gov/osbr-user/user/welcome.html)

    • 2003 – Utah is one of several states recognized by the Digital State Survey for Sustained Leadership in technology over the five year period from 1997 through 2002 (Center for Digital Government http://www.centerdigitalgov.com/).
    • 2003 – Campground reservations at all Utah state parks can be made via the internet
    • 2003 – The Utah Tax Commission introduces “Payment Express”, an online service that allows citizens and businesses to efficiently manage a variety of different tax payments through a single interface (https://secure.utah.gov/paymentexpress/client)

Utah is a leader in technology-based education In 1996, Governor Leavitt along with Governor Romer of Colorado introduced the western virtual university to the Western Governor’s Association (WESTERN GOVERNORS UNIVERSITY MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING https://spcoll.li.suu.edu/eadfiles/Xe1kcH8BnM5_0W5sJ69V/005.pdf, VIRTUAL UNIVERSITY WILL OFFER AUTHENTIC DEGREES BY E-MAIL https://spcoll.li.suu.edu/eadfiles/Xe1kcH8BnM5_0W5sJ69V/003.pdf).  Today, Utah citizens have a multitude of new educational options, including the Utah Electronic High School (LEAVITT CALLS FOR HIGH-TECH SCHOOL SYSTEM https://spcoll.li.suu.edu/eadfiles/Xe1kcH8BnM5_0W5sJ69V/ms122NW19930714.pdf), distance learning through the Utah Education Network (http://www.uen.org/), and collaborative online services like the Utah Electronic College.


    • 1993 – UtahLink established to connect Utah’s high schools to the Internet (http://www.coastlink.com/users/agibson/holladay/UtahLink.html)
    • 1994 – 12 new EdNet sites added in Southern Utah.

Distance learning gets a boost (http://www.ednet.net/).

    • 1996 – Governors Leavitt and Romer of Colorado introduce the western virtual university to the Western Governor’s Association. The western virtual university (later changed to the Western Governor’s University) aims to play a leading role in offering technology-delivered competency-based education (www.wgu.edu).
    • 1997 – Utah Education Network Satellite Services established and begins serving over 2,500 students per quarter via satellite linked full-motion, full-color video.
    • 1998 – The Utah Electronic Community College opens for business offering anyone, anywhere, anytime, transferable college education by pooling the existing distance education classes available at the state’s five colleges. Students gain access through the Internet (http://www.uec.org/ ).
    • 1998 – 97% of the state’s high schools are now connected to the Internet.
    • 1998 – Western Governor’s University opens for classes (www.wgu.edu).
    • 1999 – A charge issued in 1993 to the Utah public education community by Utah Gov. Michael O. Leavitt stated that every high school course would be available online by 1996. As a division of the Utah State Office of Education, the Utah Electronic High School has accomplished that and more, with the latest figures showing that over 21,000 high school credits have been taken, reflecting an enrollment of 16,000 high school students taking courses online.
    • 2001 – Western Governor’s University becomes the only accredited online university in the country to offer competency-based degrees.

56 colleges, universities and other educational providers offer courses through the WGU.

    • 2001 – Governor Leavitt is recognized as a national NetDay hero for making education and technology a top priority for his administration (NETDAY http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NetDay)
    • 2001 – Governor issues challenge to double the number of computer science and engineering graduates in Utah and moves forward to expand programs throughout Utah’s system of higher education (Utah Engineering Rolls To Soar Leavitt Plans To Double Number, Boost Funding https://spcoll.li.suu.edu/eadfiles/Xe1kcH8BnM5_0W5sJ69V/ms122NW20000911.pdf).
    • 2001 – U.S. Department of Education announced the award of a $10 million Star Schools grant to help Western Governors University (WGU) launch its Teachers College, a national telecommunications network that will provide accredited, online degrees and certificates to K-12 teachers and prospective teachers (WGU GRADUATES CELEBRATE THEIR PATH https://www.proquest.com/docview/351363390).
    • 2002 – Utah leads the Nation in its technology initiatives in education. Utah placed number one in education in the annual Digital State Survey sponsored by the Center For Digital Government and the Progress & Freedom Foundation for two years running (2001 and 2002). Utah also ranks 7th in the nation overall, that is up from 35th place in 1997 Survey.
    • 2003 – U.S.  Secretary of Education Rod Paige today hailed the launch of Western Governors University’s (WGU) new online competency-based Teachers College, which offers accredited certificate, undergraduate and graduate academic degrees for current and prospective teachers. The Teachers College can be found on the Web at www.wgu.edu/tc.

Utah government is more efficient Earlier this year, USA Today recognized Utah as the best managed state in the nation. Utah has been able to control growth in government through effective use of technology. For example, numerous state and local criminal justice agencies throughout the State now have access through the Utah Criminal Justice Information System (UCJIS) to multiple data sources via an XML interface.  The result is that law enforcement officers save thousands of hours and technical support requirements are also reduced.


    • 1993 – Utah completes the development of the first statewide fuel network in the nation which enables the sharing of resources between over 1000 state, local, and federal agencies (http://fleet.utah.gov/fuel/)
    • 1994 – FI-NET, the state’s new financial management system is launched (https://www.finet.net/).
    • 1995 – Utah consolidates and automates all of its internal and external mail operations, saving over $100,000 per month.
    • 1996 – Leavitt announces plan to establish a statewide communication between law enforcement officers through use of 800 megahertz technology and laptops in patrol cars.
    • 1997 – Governor and legislature establish the position of the state’s first Chief Information Officer.
    • 1997 – UTAX initiated to integrate and modernize tax systems.
    • 1997 – Independent state agency created to provide for governmental public safety communications services and facilities.
    • 1997 – Obtained funding to insure continued operation of critical state computer applications through the change in century (Y2K initiative)
    • 1997 – ITS reduces office space and leads the way with an aggressive telecommuting initiative that is praised by Governor Leavitt.  Division of Air Quality and the Governor’s Office become “early adopters” as other agencies follow suit in the wake of I-15 highway reconstruction.
    • 1997 – Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Randall Richey identifies and subsequently aids in the capture of a California murderer and armored car robber using information he obtained on an 800-megahertz wireless laptop in his patrol car.
    • 1997 – First certificate authority in nation established in Utah. Governor Leavitt signs proclamation using a digital certificate (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_key_certificate)
    • 1997 – Utah’s Governor Michael Leavitt and State or Regional Directors of the Bureau of Land Management. U. S.  Geological Survey, Forest Service, National Park Service, U. S.  Fish and Wildlife Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Environmental Protection Agency, U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, U. S.Bureau of Reclamation, and the Utah Association of Soil Conservation Districts signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the Utah Digital Spatial Data Sharing and Integration Project. No other state is known to have an omnibus MOU concerning GIT with so many federal agencies.
    • 1999 – Y2K computer systems tested and fixed.  Utah, like most major computer systems around the world survive the “millennium bug.” (REGENTS SAY Y2K A $20 M PROBLEM, BUT LEAVITT RECOMMENDS ONLY $5M https://spcoll.li.suu.edu/eadfiles/Xe1kcH8BnM5_0W5sJ69V/ms122NW19981217.pdf)
    • 2001 – Utah one of only two states with an “A” ranking in technology (Government Performance Partnership)
    • 2001 – Motor Vehicle portion of U-Tax modernization project completed
    • 2001 – Utah’s Integrated Criminal Justice Information System (UCJIS) completes web interfaces to give state, local and federal criminal justice agencies access to eight different government databases including drivers license, motor vehicle and offender tracking systems.
    • 2001 – In the wake of 9-11 and “hack attacks” against state websites Governor Leavitt issues executive order directing the Chief Information Officer to develop and implement policies promoting the security of State information and information systems.
    • 2002 – Utah stages perhaps the most successful Olympic Winter Games in history.

State, federal, and local public safety agencies work together to develop incident management and communications solutions that ensure security at the games.

    • 2003 – Governor Leavitt as chair of NGA’s homeland security leads in the creation of Interop America to direct a coordinated state response for developing interoperability in homeland security. Governor Leavitt also represents the states on the President’s Homeland Security and stresses the importance of system interoperability (http://www.interop.com/).
    • 2003 – UWIN, the Utah Wireless Integrated Network, embarks on a project to tie together all of the State’s voice and data networks (ITS, UEN, UCAN, Public Safety, DOH, and others collaborate to form a model for future development of wireless services)
    • 2003 – Utah successfully completes the implementation of a new payroll system which will include enhanced self-serve employee options
    • 2003 – Utah completes its interface on several key homeland security interoperability projects
    • 2003 – 19 Utah counties develop GIS implementation plans in cooperation with the State’s Automated Geographic Reference Center

Utah is a wired state During the late nineties and up to the current time, there has been a proliferation of broadband services throughout the State. More recently, there has been rapid growth of wireless companies and users throughout Utah. Private sector growth has been spurred by the growth of government and education networks that have helped push demand into rural areas of the State. Today, many initiatives –public and private, are moving forward that will directly benefit Utah citizens by providing extremely fast access. UTOPIA is moving forward to provide ubiquitous access in 17 Utah communities, while companies like Broadband Central have announced that wireless broadband services will be available in as much as 85% of the state by the end of this year (https://www.utopiafiber.com/).


    • 1994 – Technology 2000 initiative allocated $28 million for a wide area network “with capacity for interactive, full-motion video, audio, graphics and data.”
    • 1994 – The Utah Health Information Network was created as a broad-based coalition of healthcare insurers, providers, and other interested parties including state government. UHIN participants work toward a common goal of reducing health care costs through standardization of administrative health data and electronic commerce (http://www.uhin.org/).
    • 1995 – Utah became the first state to pass legislation recognizing digital signatures as a legal means to authenticate electronic communications (Coalition Preparing Way for Digital Signatures https://www.proquest.com/docview/288818479, ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES CAN BE COUTED, HIGH COURT RULES https://www.proquest.com/docview/507862874).
    • 1996 – Second “back-up” data center set up in Richfield; high-speed “ATM backbone” established
    • 1999 – High-speed “SONET ring” linking state capitol complex with seven major state agencies goes live.
    • 2001 – 67.7% of Utah households have computers and 54.1% have computers connected to the Internet.
    • 2002 – Re-design of state WAN to provide network redundancy in the event of a need for disaster recovery using private carrier services and the state’s microwave.
    • 2002 – Agreement signed between the State Division of Information Technology Services (ITS) and the Utah Education Network (UEN) established a team to develop ways to share existing technologies maintained by both networks.
    • 2002 – “Gigapop” established as the intermountain hub for Internet2 traffic linking Utah to national and international research institutions. Much like the Internet, this infrastructure positions Utah for the next generation of high speed networks and telecommunication services that will spur growth in high-tech research, development of new commercial ventures.

Technology Initiatives have contributed to economic growth Accomplishments

Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service