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HomeNewsArchivesLICENSING NEARS LAUNCH OF NEW WEB SITE

LICENSING NEARS LAUNCH OF NEW WEB SITE

In the near future, V.I. companies will be able to renew their business licenses with a few clicks of the mouse. Residents seeking to hire a contractor for home repairs can research the contractor's track record on their computer screen. Off-island entrepreneurs thinking of relocating to the territory can scan through the Virgin Islands requirements and learn about the local labor pool.
The Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs is getting serious about online business-and-consumer-friendly services.
Licensing Commissioner Andrew Rutnik has been working with Wireless World to set up the department's own, interactive Web site. He's hopeful it will be up by the middle of this month. The address will be www.dlca.gov.com.
Like other departments and agencies, DLCA already has a Web presence as part of the government's overall site. It can be accessed at www.usvi.org.dlca.
But the existing site is strictly informational and, Rutnik said, often not available because of hitches in access.
The new site will have all the data on the current one, and much more. It is costing about $20,000 to set up and probably will cost about $9,000 a year to maintain, Rutnik said. The cost is relatively low partly because the new site will draw on the old. The department also was able to obtain a software program designed for licensing agencies–the CATS system–under the government's Y2K program last year.
Rutnik concedes there are some kinks to work out. It may be some time before residents can obtain new business licenses online since they must get approvals from several agencies besides Licensing. Typically, it requires stops at Fire Services, Health, Police and Planning and Natural Resources.
"Where it's going to be a real time-saver is in renewals," Rutnik said. "We'll have a nice firewall" to keep information secure, so business owners can pay renewal fees via credit card.
But even renewals require coordination with another agency, the Internal Revenue Bureau, which must issue a tax clearance letter before DLCA may renew a license. Rutnik said he will be working with IRB to smooth out the system, and he believes the tax clearance requirement (the heart of the Stop Tax Evasion Program) will be repealed, as was recommended last year in the Five Year Operating and Strategic Financial Plan.
Rutnik foresees a time when DLCA will e-mail residents reminder notices about renewals (although it will remain the business owner's responsibility to renew the license regardless of notification.) The department also will e-mail notices directly to consumers much as it now issues press releases on various subjects of interest and concern.
"We will begin to interact with our customers" and with people on the mainland, he said.
Within the first year, he estimates that the program will eliminate 60 percent of the department's foot traffic, freeing up staff to do more record-keeping and compliance investigation and follow-up.
The online services are an integral part of the one-stop shop Rutnik is developing for DLCA. He is anticipating a mid-January launch for the site.

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In the near future, V.I. companies will be able to renew their business licenses with a few clicks of the mouse. Residents seeking to hire a contractor for home repairs can research the contractor's track record on their computer screen. Off-island entrepreneurs thinking of relocating to the territory can scan through the Virgin Islands requirements and learn about the local labor pool.
The Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs is getting serious about online business-and-consumer-friendly services.
Licensing Commissioner Andrew Rutnik has been working with Wireless World to set up the department's own, interactive Web site. He's hopeful it will be up by the middle of this month. The address will be www.dlca.gov.com.
Like other departments and agencies, DLCA already has a Web presence as part of the government's overall site. It can be accessed at www.usvi.org.dlca.
But the existing site is strictly informational and, Rutnik said, often not available because of hitches in access.
The new site will have all the data on the current one, and much more. It is costing about $20,000 to set up and probably will cost about $9,000 a year to maintain, Rutnik said. The cost is relatively low partly because the new site will draw on the old. The department also was able to obtain a software program designed for licensing agencies--the CATS system--under the government's Y2K program last year.
Rutnik concedes there are some kinks to work out. It may be some time before residents can obtain new business licenses online since they must get approvals from several agencies besides Licensing. Typically, it requires stops at Fire Services, Health, Police and Planning and Natural Resources.
"Where it's going to be a real time-saver is in renewals," Rutnik said. "We'll have a nice firewall" to keep information secure, so business owners can pay renewal fees via credit card.
But even renewals require coordination with another agency, the Internal Revenue Bureau, which must issue a tax clearance letter before DLCA may renew a license. Rutnik said he will be working with IRB to smooth out the system, and he believes the tax clearance requirement (the heart of the Stop Tax Evasion Program) will be repealed, as was recommended last year in the Five Year Operating and Strategic Financial Plan.
Rutnik foresees a time when DLCA will e-mail residents reminder notices about renewals (although it will remain the business owner's responsibility to renew the license regardless of notification.) The department also will e-mail notices directly to consumers much as it now issues press releases on various subjects of interest and concern.
"We will begin to interact with our customers" and with people on the mainland, he said.
Within the first year, he estimates that the program will eliminate 60 percent of the department's foot traffic, freeing up staff to do more record-keeping and compliance investigation and follow-up.
The online services are an integral part of the one-stop shop Rutnik is developing for DLCA. He is anticipating a mid-January launch for the site.