The Treasury Department unveiled two Internet initiatives Tuesday aimed at helping consumers and companies do business with government agencies.
One program, Pay.gov, to be available in the fall, will let them pay government fees, taxes, and other assessments through the Internet. Many of these transactions are now processed over the counter and through paper lockbox collections and the Automated Clearing House.
The other program, SLGSafe, was developed by the Bureau of Public Debt and allows state and local governments - as well as the financial institutions they work with - to buy and redeem Treasury securities, make charges to their portfolios, and review financial reports online.
The Treasury's State and Local Government Securities, known as Slugs, are the main focus of this service, which is now available.
The Treasury has been testing SLGSafe with 10 financial institutions since December and has moved approximately 20% of Public Debt's subscription volume to the Internet.
Deputy Treasury Secretary Stuart E. Eizenstat said at a news conference, "Putting government online helps free up tax revenues for other needs by allowing the public sector to enjoy the same kinds of reduced costs and increased efficiency that the Internet has brought to the private sector."
Mr. Eizenstat said the Treasury is also developing or testing other electronic payment programs, including digital cash, secure Internet e-mail for the delivery of digital checks to vendors, and ACH debit authorizations over the Internet.
To use Pay.gov, consumers and businesses would register online to interact with all participating government agencies.
A family could use the service to pay for a camping license at a national park, for example, or a company could use it to pay registration fees. Companies would be able to look at federal agency invoices and retrieve information about bills paid, forms completed, or purchases made. Pay.gov will be able to accommodate any of the 80 million transactions the government currently processes each year, officials said.