The Government is moving ahead with its E-Government (E-Gov) initiative, aimed at using Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to improve service delivery within the public sector.
Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, said the transition to E-Government is now underway in earnest and at the end of next month, the Government will complete the winding up of the Central Information Technology Office (CITO).
The agency was originally tasked with co-ordinating the Government’s ICT activities.
“We will also complete the re-positioning of Fiscal Services Limited, the body previously responsible for the digital revenue functions of the Government,” Mr. Paulwell said.
He was making his contribution to the 2013/14 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives on April 24.
The Minister said that CITO will become a policy unit within the Ministry, while Fiscal Services Limited will be rebranded as E-Government Jamaica Limited, empowered to provide general ICT services to the entire public sector.
There will also be a Chief Information Officer contracted to the Ministry, with responsibility for providing overarching technology vision and leadership in the development and implementation of Government’s ICT strategies and corporate programmes.
“Perhaps the most critical project the new entity will be charged with implementing, is the creation of the common Government Wide Area Network (GovNet),” the Minister said.
He noted that at the moment, there are vast gaps in technology capacity throughout the Government, with some ministries, agencies and departments (MDAs) suffering from major deficiencies, and others being quite the opposite.
GovNet will allow the seamless transfer of information between Government MDAs and other stakeholders. It will facilitate the harmonization of ICT infrastructure and systems across the public sector and strengthen the capacity of public institutions to deliver efficient and effective public goods and services.
Over time the mechanism will provide a suite of on-line services to the public, increasing the ease of doing business with Government.
“The creation of E-Gov and GovNet will be the single most transformative policy shift for our civil service since Independence,” Mr. Paulwell said.
He added that E-Gov will allow a farmer in St. Elizabeth who wants to export carrots, to complete all the applications for permits and licences online, pay all the requisite fees online, and even receive his documents online, without having to leave his farm or his community.
“It will allow our police officers to target and track crime more effectively; it will allow our citizens to pay their taxes on time, and will generally allow for a more efficient interaction between Government and the people we serve,” Mr. Paulwell explained.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter