The purchase of hunting, fishing and other recreation licenses will see a dramatic change in the next few years, the result of a contract that Fish, Wildlife & Parks announced today with telecommunications specialists, MCIWORLDCOM Inc.
FWP Director Patrick Graham announced the agreement, which commits FWP to the development and implementation of an automated licensing system. Graham said the partnership with MCIWORLDCOM Inc., and the Helena-based software development firm Western Computer Services, Inc., is the product of an initiative that started more than four years ago and was approved by the 1997 Montana Legislature. The new system--developed with the assistance hunters, anglers, license agents, industry experts, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and FWP employees--is scheduled to go on line as a pilot in the fall of 2000, with all license agents going on line in 2001.
Graham said it is time for FWP to move into the information age. Today, license agents, as they have since 1901, write by hand or type information on licenses, store the carbon copies, and then at the end of each month send the copies and fees to FWP's Helena headquarters. New electronic technology will allow daily transfer of information and cut the time it takes to issue a license in half.
Graham listed several specific benefits including:
The system will link all Montana license agents to FWP via a communication web capable of delivering licensing information back and forth between a central data base and the agents' small, on-site computers. One-time development costs are contracted at $4.8 million, with annual operating costs expected to be approximately $725,000. Federal Aid in Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration funds will finance approximately one-third of the project, with two-thirds coming from Montana hunting and fishing license revenues.
Graham encouraged anyone with questions to contact FWP's Administration and Finance Division in Helena.