JIS News

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the integration of technology in people’s working lives, says Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke.

“In a way, it has pushed us to find enhanced ways to continue to deliver public services to Jamaicans,” the Minister noted.

In his speech read by Minister of State in the Ministry, Marsha Smith, at a recent Civil Service Week Public Forum, Dr. Clarke said that as a country, and specifically as a public sector, better use of  information and communications technology (ICT)  must be made, as improvement in technology has marked economic development and enables modernisation.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Marsha Smith. (Official Photo)

 

“It is with this certainty that the Public Sector Transformation Programme seeks to leverage ICT in transforming how the public sector goes about delivering services to its citizens and internally to itself,” the Minister added.

Dr. Clarke said there are challenges to making these advancements a reality, noting that  two critical elements must be addressed – “how can we embed technology into the heart of the operations of the public sector? In other words, how do we ensure that the public sector accepts, embraces and sustains the use of technology that it needs; and how can we maximise ICT use in the sector?”.

The Minister said that as Government moves towards greater use of ICT in the public sector, there must be an equal if not faster move to untangle institutional dynamics to achieve modernisation and enable transformation.

He emphasised that this is essential if the public sector is to realise the benefits and achieve the potential of emerging technologies.

Explaining institutional dynamics, the Minister cited, as an example, the Transformation Implementation Unit’s (TIU) implementation of MyHR+ (an integrated Human Resource (HR)  and payroll system) across the public sector.

The system affords the public sector a level of efficiency and effectiveness that will not only improve operations but also improve inter customer service.

“This is where we get to the part of untangling institutional dynamics. There are some ministries, departments and agencies that continue to hold on to decades of old processes developed for a system that was paper-based and manual in execution. For example, some entities insist that an approval executed in MyHR+ needs to be printed and signed by a Manager and then scanned back to the MyHR+ system, even though  electronic transactions are built into the system,” the Minister said.

Dr. Clarke said the TIU team has been working through the processes needed to allow for the acceptance of electronic transactions.

The Minister argued that the Government’s records and information management policy must, therefore, provide for the management of records and information digitally.

To build capacity and capability for ICT use in the public sector, Dr. Clarke said the management, analysis and visualisation of data must collaborate seamlessly over a secure network using virtual tools.

“These are just a few of the skills that will be needed as we move towards a public sector that is anchored in technology. If public-sector workers do not have the relevant skills required to operate in a work environment powered by ICT, then embedding technology in our operations will face an uphill task,” the Minister  said.

The Ministry of Finance and the Public service, under the Public Sector Transformation Programme, has an upskilling and training project. This has led in the process of supporting public-sector entities that have the need for specialist skills and require that staff be upskilled.

“We must ensure that the capacity and capability exist to harness technology, so that we can work smarter and more efficiently, enabling policy framework buttressed by a robust change management process, and a continuous build out of capacity and capability,” the Minister  said.

Civil Service Week (November 21 to 26) is being celebrated under the theme ‘The Public Sector: Anchoring Technology for Sustainable Growth and Efficiency’.

Logo of Civil Service Week

 

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