Wings Over America

June 1996
CYBERSCAPE COLUMN

Wings Over America

The WINGS project (Web Interactive Network of Government Services) is based on a simple but profound idea-to provide electronic government services based on events in people's lives, and to stop forcing them to chase solutions to their problems from department to department.

Under WINGS, which is sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service, local, state and federal agencies are working to provide seamless services on a World Wide Web site (http://www.wings.usps.gov). The idea is to give people access to government services when they need them-such as when they are looking for a new job, when they want to get a driver's license and when they are ready to apply for retirement benefits. The access will come not only through personal computers in homes and offices, but also through a network of public computer terminals and information kiosks in libraries, shopping malls, and post offices. The first of the kiosks were scheduled to be set up last month.

The Postal Service has already set up a demonstration area on the WINGS site to show the kinds of services that will be available on the site. In a section labeled "Moving," for example, users can send change-of-address notices to USPS and read up on the demographics and government services of the areas to which they are relocating. In the future, address forwarding to multiple parties, voter registration, advertising from private-sector moving companies, and even information on IRS deductions for moving expenses may become available.

According to WINGS program manager Susan Smoter, more than 15,000 people have already attended demonstrations of the WINGS system. The next phase is a pilot test offering real services, which is scheduled to begin early this summer.

WINGS has started an online forum for discussions of legal and regulatory hurdles, pilot tests, appearance standards of materials provided by agencies, and network and security concerns. Federal employees interested in serving on or reviewing the work of these committees can apply for membership at the WINGS site.

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