House Passes ICT Authority Bill

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Jamaica News: The Information and Communications Technology Authority Act, which seeks to improve the use of technology across Government, was passed in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (June 11).

The Bill, which was piloted by Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Hon. Fayval Williams, establishes the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Authority.

In her address, Mrs. Williams noted that the ICT Authority is intended to promote improvements in ICT service management in the public sector and transfer the functions of eGov Jamaica Limited and the Office of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) to the ICT Authority.

She noted that the Government has embarked on an ICT transformation process in an effort to improve certain service delivery to ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of Government.

“The Government currently lacks a single organisation that has full responsibility for ICT and related services, which results in a number of challenges, including pressures from existing users of ICT services on the current state of service delivery and business practices that tend to be effectively supported by ICT,” Mrs. Williams said.

Other challenges include the lack of government-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.

The Minister also cited the slow response times and inefficient use of resources to deliver ICT services, and no formal system of incentives to encourage the corporate use of ICT within the Government as challenges affecting the sector.

“A lack of performance measurement for the ICT function in government, varying ICT budgets available to MDAs, which trigger inconsistent rate and pace for ICT deployment and support, result in some entities having more modern capabilities, while others lag behind,” Mrs. Williams said.

She noted that in light of these challenges, steps have been taken, over time, to improve the ICT governance framework for the Government.

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“For example, in 2013, a decision was taken to wind up the Central Information Technology Office (CITO) and incorporate it into the Ministry. CITO was responsible for developing information technology policies, strategies and plans and monitoring the implementation of same,” Mrs. Williams said.

Also in 2013, a decision was taken to contract a CIO to provide overarching technology vision and leadership and to reposition Fiscal Services Limited as eGov Jamaica Limited, with primary responsibility for the implementation of Government of Jamaica-wide ICT projects.

“In August 2016, Cabinet approval was given for the adoption of a roadmap and action plan for ICT transformation in government called the blue print report. One of the recommendations from the blue print report is the formation of a new ICT Authority to bring the entire ICT function under one roof by consolidating eGov Jamaica and the office of the CIO into the new ICT Authority,” Mrs. Williams said.

She explained that the mandate of the Authority is to streamline ICT spend, drive efficiency, reduce unnecessary bureaucracy and improve service delivery across and within MDAs.

“Essentially, its purpose will be to change the way how citizens interact with the Government and vice-versa, change how basic services are delivered to citizens and increase the level of efficiency in the delivery of government services through the seamless integration of digital capabilities,” Mrs. Williams said.

For his part, Opposition Spokesman on Science and Technology, Julian Robinson, while welcoming the legislation, raised concerns about the governance arrangement surrounding the Bill.

He suggested that members of the Board should be appointed by the Cabinet and not by the Minister.

In her response, Mrs. Williams noted that the Board selection will be done according to the guidelines from the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service.

“Of course, these are taken to Cabinet for approval, so it is not just the Minister who has a say,” she said.

The Bill will be sent to the Senate for its approval.


Source: JIS News

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