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Software companies court government

Software maker zCore is the latest company to take its business to the government, joining a niche that has grown since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Software maker zCore is the latest company to take its business to the government.

The Round Rock, Texas-based company on Tuesday introduced software designed to help lawmakers track legislation. The Legislative Bill Management application lets state and federal governments organize and distribute legislative information over the Web, allowing lawmakers to access bill text, history and related information online. Businesses and industry lobbyists can also use the software to analyze pending legislation, particularly the fiscal and competitive impacts it might have on them.

State and federal governments, tasked with improving information security, data analysis and communication as a result of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, appear to be a fertile ground for information technology companies. The Bush administration has proposed increasing the federal IT budget 11 percent in 2003 to $52 billion. Hit hard by corporate cut backs on technology spending, business applications companies are hungrily eyeing the government to pick up the slack.

zCore's main line of business has been selling system integration services for IBM products such as Lotus Notes messaging software and Lotus Domino servers, but CEO Greg Harris said the time is ripe for promoting its government applications because of the need for greater efficiency in the public sector.

Other companies also are appealing to the government's focus on homeland security. Oracle is promoting its database and business applications as a tool the company says can protect government data from intruders and destruction. It also touts a collaboration application for enabling communication and coordination among government agencies.

Siebel Systems, which has grown successful helping businesses track sales and marketing opportunities, quickly retooled its popular customer relationship management software after Sept. 11 for use in tracking terrorists. In November, the company released Siebel Homeland Security, a set of applications designed to help government agencies gather and share information for the purpose of detecting and preventing the terrorist threats.