Sat | Jan 25, 2020

Gov’t to resurrect NIDS with focus on ICT

Published:Wednesday | November 27, 2019 | 12:34 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer

Prime Minister Andrew Holness told Parliament yesterday that the Government would not be abandoning the identification aspect of the National Identification System (NIDS).

He said the Government has completed a revised policy that is consistent with the recommendations in the Supreme Court’s April ruling on the National Identification and Registration Act on which NIDS was to be based. The court ruled the act to be unconstitutional.

Holness added that the policy was now being reviewed by the Government’s “primary stakeholders”, a process which should be completed in two weeks before going before the Cabinet.

Holness said further that the Government’s target is to issue new drafting instructions with strengthened oversight and security provisions by January 2020, with the aim of tabling a new bill by the end of this financial year.

“We have always pointed out that this programme was much more than identification. This programme was always about modernising Jamaica’s information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure to support the effective and efficient delivery of government services,” said Holness.

ICT UPGRADE

Cabinet approved the first amendment to the NIDS Solution Contract on November 11, 2019 for the disaggregation, adoption and execution of the non-NIDS or ICT infrastructure upgrade activities that were outlined in the deal inked with the Productive Business Solutions Limited-led consortium. This part of the upgrade is valued at US$6.4 million.

The first amendment will allow the project team to focus on the ICT upgrade activities until a new National Identification and Registration Bill is tabled.

“The Government decided to focus on the initial ICT upgrade to address urgent needs at the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) and the Registrar General’s Department (RGD). The remainder of the contract is to cover new systems and infrastructure upgrade and the implementation of the National Identification System,” Holness said.

The ICT infrastructure upgrade activities will include the public key infrastructure (PKI) software, hardware, training and testing, along with delivery and installation of all data-centre hardware to support the PKI infrastructure.

The PKI is the foundation for PICA’s e-Passport security and implementation and the “crucial cornerstone technology to secure Government’s system nationally”.

The upgrade will also factor self-serving web portal software and a link to online payment gateways for the delivery of digital RGD services, including digital verifiable birth certificates.

“Upon completion, Mr Speaker, the online verification and authentication of birth certificates will be available,” said Holness.

The Government, he said, is serious about harnessing the benefits of technology to transform the society and economy.

“The wave of information and communication technologies have arrived and it is high time that Jamaica gets up to speed,” Holness said.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com