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The National Land Agency (NLA), winner of the 2008-2009 Prime Minister’s Trophy for Best Customer Service, is a sterling example of the customer-centred, client-focussed orientation which the Public Sector Modernisation Programme aims to standardise in the public sector.
As a high-performing executive agency, the NLA inspires confidence in what can be achieved in executive agencies specifically and more generally in the public sector.
“It demonstrates the quiet revolution which has been taking place in the public sector,” says Ms. Marjorie Johnson, Acting Director of the Public Sector Modernisation Unit in the Office of the Cabinet.
Over the 2008 to 2009 period, the NLA achieved 98 per cent of its targets, compared to 89 per cent the previous year. In 2001, when the agency was founded, the Customer Service Index was 2.1 out of a maximum of 10. By March, 2005, it had moved to 8.1.
The NLA began very early to computerise its systems and to use a technology-led approach to its operations. In 2002/2003, a system was put in place to link its regional offices in Mandeville Manchester and Montego Bay St. James to its Kingston office, significantly improving efficiency.
The agency also launched, in 2003, its internet-based service, eLandjamaica, which provides online information to customers.
In that year customers began accessing certain data online, such as the Valuation Roll Data as well as Certificates of Title. As of September this year, there were 1,245 online customers, up from just 30 when the service was introduced.
NLA’s Citizens Charter, which guarantees certain levels of customer service, was launched in January, 2003, at the same time when eLandjamaica was established. Through this system, persons can do their search online and pay with their credit cards. Before that, persons had to go to their nearest NLA office to drop off the forms.
In September, 2004, the NLA introduced the digital cadastral map which shows the relative position of land parcels in Jamaica. The map also provides street centreline data with street names and addresses attached to the road network.
“The availability of the digital map is as a result of years of intense preparation and work by the agency, in partnership with other Government institutions, to convert paper maps into digital format,” explains a document from the NLA.
“This has resulted in the digital conversion of all 14 parishes. This sort of information is ideal for fleet management and vehicle tracking. Furthermore, the map may be customised with value-added information relevant to customers to be utilised in applications such as Disease Impact Mapping, Crime Analysis and Emergency Response Systems,” the document also explains.
During 2004 to 2005, customers of the NLA breathed a big sigh of relief when the Agency began making splinter titles for developments available within 40 days.
Previously, the survey plans would have to be taken to the Survey Department for checking, and then an application would be made to the Titles Office for splinter titles to be prepared. Through a new service, simultaneous lodgment, the quite lengthy process of approval was eliminated, significantly boosting efficiency and customer service.
Also, in March, 2006, the NLA launched a pilot project offering a one-stop-shop at its Montego Bay Regional Office. Customer feedback was so overwhelming and positive that the NLA incorporated all its core services at that regional office.
Just a month after that, an Express Desk was established at the Land Titles Division, offering customers the opportunity to have transactions, such as notation of death and marriage, change of name, discharge of mortgage and registration of single transfers and single mortgages, processed within 48 hours. Previously these transactions took 15 days.
In January this year, two other transactions were added: single lost titles (without plans) and Section 79 Applications which refer to old, damaged or worn titles without plans. These transactions which used to take 20 days now take only five days. Noteworthy is the fact that the services of the Express Desk are offered at no additional cost to the customer.
Customers of the Agency don’t need any convincing that Government’s Modernisation Programme has already been yielding tangible fruits. Prior to the NLA’s formation, for example, it took on average 26 weeks to pre-check a survey plan prepared by a commissioned land surveyor. Now about 80 per cent of the survey plans are checked within 35 days.
The NLA’s Document Tracking Facility allows customers to check the status of an application online without cost, instead of having to make a call or visit the office. Amendments to the Valuation Roll increased by a whopping 135 per cent over the period 2007 to 2008 to 2008 to 2009, moving from 61,790 to 145,690.
The NLA has some other exciting customer service improvements and services to add during this financial year. “Continuous improvement” seems to be the motto of the National Land Agency, as it is the essence of the Public Sector Modernisation Programme.

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