Jamaica News: eGov Jamaica Limited, on Thursday (Nov. 28), launched its GovTechTalk Series for workers in the Government information sector.
The GovTech Talk series, which will be held on the fourth Friday of each month, with the exception of December 2019, will last 90 minutes per session and will include a 20-minute presentation on the topic of the day, and a question and answer session.
It will focus on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) plans and initiatives in the Government and will target ICT Heads across Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
The first session which focused on GovMail (Government shared email service platform) took place during the launch, which was held at eGov Jamaica Limited, in Kingston.
Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Hon. Fayval Williams, who spoke at the launch, explained the ICT transformation that the Government is embarking on to improve service delivery of MDAs.
She noted that at the centre of the transformation will be the ICT Authority, which will “bring the entire ICT function under one roof by consolidating eGov and the Office of the Chief Information Officer into the new Authority, and to provide a single authoritative voice and a framework to expand the range of ICT services required by the GOJ.”
Further to that, she said the ICT Authority, which will be established as a corporate body, will advise and make recommendations to the Minister on matters relating to ICT and related services in all public bodies; provide, develop and implement ICT and related systems and services in all public bodies; and operate, direct or facilitate the provision, development, implementation or operation of ICT and related systems and services on a shared basis with other public bodies.
It will also ensure the security, integrity, availability and reliability of ICT and related systems and services in all public bodies; and promote and support the development of competencies and professional standards in ICT and related matters in all public bodies.
“The importance of these functions cannot be overstated. The Government currently lacks a single organisation that has full responsibility for ICT and related services across Government MDAs.
You have ICT departments, and they make their own decisions. They have their own budgets. There has been no one coordinating body,” she said.
Consequently, the Minister said, there has been a number of challenges, including pressures from existing users of ICT services on the current state of service delivery, and business practices that need to be effectively supported by ICT, as well as a lack of a GOJ-wide ICT governance framework to prioritise corporate ICT investments, to allow for a comprehensive and cohesive approach to solution acquisition and leveraging economies of scale.
There are also a lack of performance measurement for ICT function in the Government; varying ICT budgets available to MDAs, which trigger inconsistent rate and pace of ICT deployment and support, resulting in some entities having more modern capabilities, while others lag behind; and no formal system of incentives to encourage the cooperative use of ICT within Government.
“Other challenges include fragmented, costly and inefficient implementation of and support for ICT solutions, slow response time and inefficient use of resources to deliver ICT services,” the Minister noted.
Mrs. Williams implored ICT professionals in MDAs to collaborate with the Authority, and to always notify the Authority of their decisions and to seek its advice.
“There is a requirement for cooperation among all MDAs and so to the extent that you have never ever talked to eGov or has nothing to do with them, in this new regime, you will be required to have a relationship with eGov,” she said.
In the meantime, Mrs. Williams, in addressing some of the workers’ concerns, assured them that no one will be displaced and that each individual MDA will still be required to continue its duties and will still be in charge of its budget and procurement.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of eGov Jamaica Limited, Maurice Barnes, expressed satisfaction at the launch of the series, which he says present an opportunity for ICT professionals to work more closely together in an intimate environment, which will foster open and frank discussions.
“There has always been a need to create and have a forum like this, not just for providing updates and giving status on different projects as to what is happening, but a forum in which all management information system (MIS) officers can actually participate in developing some of these plans, look at the initiatives and make them become a part of that decision-making process,” he said.
“It has long been recognised that the capacity and capability of MIS officers in MDAs are certainly on par and they should all find a way to work together to deliver solutions,” Mr. Barnes said.
He pointed out that the new series will not replace MIS Officer Forum, but will supplement it and provide an avenue and environment to dive deeper into some of the issues faced in Government.