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Government changes to help business: secretary of state's web site streamlines business filings.

PAPER WORK--NO ONE likes it. That is why my office is making changes to eliminate paper work for our customers and increase available e-government services.

Since taking office in 2003, my office has made innovative changes to provide services via the Internet. You can access them 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Forms and services are just a click away when you log on to www.sos.IN.gov.

It was once a hassle for businesses to fill out their business entity reports, sign them and then file them with my office in Indianapolis. Business entity reports provide current information about a company and must be filed every year for non-profit businesses and every two years for for-profit businesses. It took as long as three working days to have the report processed and filed. Only then could a certificate of existence (or "good standing") be printed from the Web site.

Indiana businesses can now file their business entity reports at any time electronically. This system is more cost-effective and efficient for our customers than the old paper filing process done in person or through the mail. Businesses actually save money because the fee for electronic filing is lower than for paper filing. A certificate of existence or "good standing" can be printed from the Web site within minutes after filing an entity report online.

This option is increasingly popular. About 52 percent of business entity report filings now take place via the Internet. That is up from 32 percent in June 2004, and usage is growing every month.

Online business entity report filing is also saving the state time and money. Before Internet filing was an option, my office mailed up to 12,000 business entity reports each month. The cost and time involved have been greatly reduced since Internet filing became an option; now businesses receive post cards reminding them it is time to file.

This electronic database and filing system is just one component of a larger modernization project which involves scanning millions of documents for eventual online use. Scanning should begin early in 2005 and will vastly increase the information available about corporations and other business entities via the secretary of state's website.

Another online service offers an easier way to search the Uniform Commercial Code lien database. This is a system that includes information for the public about liens against an individual's or company's assets. Previously, customers could search the Uniform Commercial Code database only by using the debtor name or filing number. Now, customers can search by many different criteria, including secured party, city, ZIP code and filing date. The change will reduce the time customers spend online looking for information.

What happens if you need a notary, but don't know of one or your usual notary is not available? Hoosiers can now search the notary public database by ZIP code. There are more than 100,000 active notaries public in Indiana. You can also search by notary name, county or commission number.

There is a great deal of other information available on my Web site. For example, you can find information about trademarks and also get the forms to apply for or renew trademarks.

I plan to continue expanding the services available on the secretary of state's office Web site in the coming months. I welcome the ideas of businesspeople across the state. If you use one of our online services, please take a moment to fill out a survey and let us know what you liked and what you think could be improved. Your input will help us improve the e-government services that make life a little easier for Hoosiers.

Todd Rokita is Indiana's secretary of state, whose office is responsible for registering new businesses, filling commercial liens and issuing trademarks, notaries public and summonses. It also oversees Indiana's securities industry, Visit www.in.gov/sos.
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Title Annotation:Government
Author:Rokita, Todd
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Geographic Code:1U3IN
Date:Jan 1, 2005
Words:645
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