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State to consolidate its '800' numbers


ANNAPOLIS -- So many people are calling toll-free state government phone numbers that the Board of Public Works has awarded a contract that rolls all 180 of the state's independently arranged "800" numbers into one cost-saving master contract.

The new pact could be worth as much as $221,000 a year to MCI Telecommunications Corp., which bid lower than rivals US Sprint and AT&T; to provide the "800" service.

The Department of General Services estimates a savings of about 51 percent on toll-free calls from outside the state, and about 37 percent on the much more frequent calls from within Maryland.

The state provides toll-free calls for such varied activities as vehicle emissions testing, the Maryland Port Administration, Maryland Public Broadcasting, the governor's office, the state Income Tax Division, the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund, a poison information hot line, the health department's AIDS Administration, to name a few.

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