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Minister with responsibility for Information, Telecommunications and Special Projects, Hon. Daryl Vaz, has announced that the concept of a government-wide communication network, dubbed GovNet, aimed at improving efficiency and effectiveness in operations and service delivery, is now a reality.
“The government will use GovNet to create efficiencies in the way we interact with our citizens and how they access improved social, health and security services for the people of Jamaica,” the Minister said during his contribution to the 2010/11 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives, today (July 27).
Noting that GovNet is one of other strategies which will “shred the red tape of bureaucracy and allow this Government to position Jamaica for growth,” Minister Vaz said this communication network will be the platform that will facilitate more effectively, an open, transparent and efficient government.
He said that an information highway that connects all government Ministries and their Departments and Agencies together, must be built in order to reduce bureaucratic red tape.
“This highway must be wide enough that all the telephony data traffic can flow over it at high speed and also efficiently. Operating in an online, real time environment will be the norm in order to leverage the bank of data and information that resides within Government,” the Minister argued.
Mr. Vaz pointed out that currently, telephone bills for the Government are approximately $2 billion per year, noting that 60 per cent of the Government’s telephone costs are for calls made to itself, that is, ministries calling ministries, departments calling ministries and public bodies calling departments.
“With the use of GovNet and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology, we will be able to cut that cost to the Government, realising savings of hundreds of millions and in turn, using the savings to provide better service to the public,” he said.
The Minister further noted that GovNet will eliminate the need for travelling long distances for meetings, as it will allow for increased use of Video Conferencing to maximise resources and reduce the Government’s carbon footprint.
He said that GovNet, when implemented, will be a “game changer,” as it will not only change how the entire Government does business, but how solutions are envisioned.
“All agencies will be able to see transformational change if an efficient government Information and Communications Technology (ICT) network is established, but think of the benefits to education, national security and health, if there is that level of connectivity between all their headquarters and their outstations, even police cars to police stations,” he pointed out.
The Minister contended that the development of a national Government IT infrastructure will further facilitate the Ministry of National Security’s assault on crime, noting that Jamaica has significant resources that can be utilised for this purpose.
“GovNet will make use of all these resources to give Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) access to all the entry and exit routes to all major towns and traffic light intersections. This, when completed, will be a powerful tool to assist the police in our fight to regain order and fight crime,” Mr. Vaz said.
He said that wireless and the new developments in technology will enable police cars to be able to access data and video, so that even remote areas can be brought under tight supervision by the police.
The Minister informed that the Central Information Technology Office (CITO) with its new Board, headed by the Commissioner of Customs, Danville Walker, has been mandated to implement the vision and concept of GovNet.
CITO is a publicly owned company which was established by Cabinet in 2001. It is intended to be an enabler for the government in defining, implementing, monitoring, sourcing and continuously improving public sector ICT services, which create quality and efficiency in a cost effective manner.

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