Fri | Nov 22, 2019

New digital tool to help track government breaches

Published:Friday | October 18, 2019 | 12:27 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer

It will be a little easier to hold public officials to account with the rolling out of a website backed by a corruption watchdog, the Jamaica Accountability Meter Portal (JAMP).

The organisation’s portal currently allows for the tracking of the reportable performance of members of parliament and also the tracking of breaches in departments and agencies of government and the corrective steps that have been implemented.

According to Jeanette Calder, JAMP’s chairman and executive director, the National Housing Trust scandal that blew up in the face of the Portia Simpson Miller administration surrounding a $180-million spend on the Outameni property was a “game-changer”, which led to the group’s founding.

Calder said that by her calculation, it was costing taxpayers $2.5 billion per year to hold public servants accountable.

“I don’t believe we are getting value for money. Part of the reason why we are not getting value for money is that there are public servants like the Auditor General’s Department doing an exemplary job, … MOCA, but the truth is, unless citizens do their job and their role and responsibility, we will never be able to really extract the value to the $2.5 billion,” Calder said as she justified the need for JAMP.

The accountability lobby is being financed by the European Union and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ).

JAMP, which was officially launched on Wednesday at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, aims to harness the power of citizen engagement, monitoring, and oversight to improve accountability. The organisation is led by immediate past president of the PSOJ Howard Mitchell.

PSOJ Keith Duncan hailed JAMP’s launch as a watershed platform for accountability in governance.

“The Jamaican people, they are frustrated, they are angry about the levels of corruption. They see it as totally diverting resources from basic services that they require in their daily lives. All they want is just good governance,” said Duncan.

The ‘Account A Meter’ is a digital platform that provides the data and facts for improving accountability in government.

The tool allows citizens, civil-society organisations, government, Parliament’s oversight committees, journalists, and researchers to keep track of breaches of government policy and regulation. It also provides the site visitor with direct access to accountability officers in order to ask questions, express concerns, or exercise the option to press for greater accountability.

The MP Tracker reduces the distance between your and your political representative. It not only answers all those questions above and more but helps you to appreciate and assess the performance of your member of parliament in carrying out their duties.

The Legislative Tracker is a real-time legislative bill tracking tool that allows citizens to monitor the progression of bills through the two Houses of Parliament. The bills of focus will be those deemed to be potentially impactful on the quality of life, particularly on accountability and governance.