• Feature
    Regional Planner in the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, Simone Barnette. She explains that the application management and data automation (AMANDA) software streamlines building and development applications and allows for multiple commenting agencies to view the application simultaneously.
    Photo: Charnele Henry

    Story Highlights

    • The annual ranking of countries in the World Bank’s Doing Business Report helps developed and developing States to advance more efficient regulations that enhance the ease of doing business.
    • One measure Jamaica has taken to improve its ranking is implementation and use of the application management and data automation (AMANDA) software in the Development Applications Review Process (DARP).
    • AMANDA is an enterprise resource planning and monitoring software for business process automation. The software was implemented in the local authorities throughout the island in 2009 through the collaborative work of the Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development (MLGCD) and the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA).

    The annual ranking of countries in the World Bank’s Doing Business Report helps developed and developing States to advance more efficient regulations that enhance the ease of doing business.

    One measure Jamaica has taken to improve its ranking is implementation and use of the application management and data automation (AMANDA) software in the Development Applications Review Process (DARP).

    AMANDA is an enterprise resource planning and monitoring software for business process automation. The software was implemented in the local authorities throughout the island in 2009 through the collaborative work of the Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development (MLGCD) and the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA).

    The software is used to streamline the back-end process of building and development applications and fast-track them through DARP.

    “When an applicant submits his or her application, the municipal corporations prepare an acceptance letter through the AMANDA system and the application documents are scanned into the system. The referral entities are then able to see these documents, sometimes before the physical file gets to them,” Regional Planner in the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, Simone Barnette, tells JIS News.

    Under DARP, the AMANDA pulls together the input of not only NEPA and the municipal corporations but also several referral or commenting agencies involved in the process of development and building application.

    These agencies include the Ministry of Health, Jamaica Fire Brigade, National Water Commission, Jamaica Bauxite Institute, Ministry of Agriculture, Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority and Jamaica National Heritage Trust, among others. However, not all referral agencies have access to the AMANDA system.

    “The AMANDA technicians or clerks are the planning coordinators within the municipal corporations and they are the ones who collate the responses from these referral or commenting agencies. So, when they provide a response as to whether they have refused an application or they are approving the application or what their conditions of approval are, the planning coordinator within the respective municipal corporation will collate those responses and upload them to AMANDA,” Ms. Barnette explains.

    To allow for easy tracking, all responses on applications are entered under the name of the commenting entity, despite where it was uploaded. The AMANDA system also allows for additional documents to be uploaded to existing applications.

    “On AMANDA there is what is known as a checklist, so if you have application document, check; site plan, check; floor plan, check; electrical drawing, check. From any of these particular drawings, whoever draws the document may have left off something, [but] the system allows for additional documents to be submitted as part of the process flow,” adds Programme Analyst at the Ministry, Orlando Waisome.

    “Once you have submitted an application, you would have gotten what is known as a reference number and from that you will be able to identify your application online and where along the process flow your application is. All municipal corporations currently have websites with a link to identify your application online,” Mr. Waisome tells JIS News.

    The ‘View Status’ link on the municipal corporations’ websites takes you to the AMANDA portal where, with a reference number, persons can view the milestones or status of an application through the various processes at the different commenting agencies.

    Before the submission of building and development applications, developers and contractors are encouraged to utilise the Development Application Help Desk stationed at each municipal corporation. The help desk delivers pre-assessment services to persons whose desires range from adding an extension to their home to building developments.

    Since its inception, approximately 15,000 applications have been entered into the AMANDA system. The software allows for enhanced accountability and efficiency, transparency of paper trail, greater compliance from applicants and professionals in the field and the reduction of bottlenecks in the process.

    It also allows the National Environment and Planning Agency and the municipal corporations to give responses to applications within the mandated 90-day period.