Canadian nat'l appointed to manage e-Gov't project
Dr Lois Shalla, a Canadian national, has been announced as Jamaica's chief information officer (CIO), giving him responsibility to direct the country's e-Government programme.
"He knows already that a lot is expected of him," Phillip Paulwell, minister of science, technology, energy and mining, said as he made his contribution to the Sectoral Debate in Parliament last Wednesday.
E-Government is an initiative aimed at using information and communications technology (ICT) to improve service delivery within the public sector.
"We are embarking on an ambitious programme to enable the Government of Jamaica to be a full utiliser of ICT," Paulwell said.
"We have spoken time and time again of our wish to see the end of lines ... to enable our people who live in Westmoreland to be able to deal with their government without having to travel to Kingston, and also to see the elimination of all the paper," the minister said.
When fully implemented, the e-Government programme will allow the seamless transfer of information between government ministries, departments and agencies and other stakeholders. It will facilitate the harmonization of ICT infrastructure and systems across the public sector and strengthen the capacity of public institutions to deliver efficient and effective public goods and services.
Over time, the mechanism will provide a suite of online services to the public, increasing the ease of doing business with Government.
Dr Andrew Wheatley, the opposition spokesman on ICT, contributing to the same debate, said the post of CIO is important to the deployment of ICT within the public service.
"For far too long, we have found ourselves in need of a successful governance framework in public-sector ICT and this development marks an important step in that direction,"he said.
He has, however, questioned whether the CIO have unfettered authority to drive IT strategy across all ministries.
" It is critical that such a position have the power and authority to give direction and drive strategy across all government ministries, department and agencies without hindrance. If this cannot be achieved, then the post of CIO will be nothing more than another high-paying token consultancy," Wheatley said.
Meanwhile, Paulwell announced that Jamaica is now benefiting significantly from the Internet Exchange Point (IXP) facility with estimated savings of more than US$2 million per year.
"The ministry undertook the initiative because the facility allows local Internet service providers to exchange Internet traffic between their networks at a reduced cost," Paulwell said.
"Formerly, all Jamaican Internet traffic is routed through Miami, Florida, in the United States, which comes at an extra cost to the country. A local IXP connection not only saves on international transit costs but significantly reduces network latency due to improved bandwidth and shorter distances for the data to travel," the minister added.