Avia Collinder, Business Writer
The Public Sector Transformation Unit (PSTU) has initiated the transformation of Fiscal Services Limited (FSL) into the Government's top tech team.
The Cabinet Office has directed all ministries, departments, agencies, and public bodies to submit their ICT programmes to FSL for strategic review, according to Fiscal Services' managing director, Leroy Cooke.
Cooke says his agency will, from that review, coordinate the acquisition and deployment of ICT assets across the government service.
Additionally, all major ICT initiatives being pursued by ministries, departments, agencies, and public bodies will be reviewed by FSL to "ensure that these investments fit within a government-wide architectural framework and to guarantee the best value for the tax dollar," Cooke told Sunday Business.
To ready FSL for its more comprehensive role, the agency has added a project management office, a business solution services division, and the security and the IT risk management department, he said.
The PTSU is tasked with laying the groundwork for improving efficiency, productivity and the quality of service across the public sector.
The goal is to drive down the cost of running the government - Whether through mergers, eliminations of some operations, privatisations or operational improvements.
Head of the PTSU, Patricia Sinclair McCalla, says FSL as part of the reforms will take on the renegotiation of software licences, consolidation of email and website hosting services, implementation of a hosted PBX telephone service, and creation of a data centre for GOJ systems.
This role will be permanent under the public sector reform programme.
Before the transformation, FSL was largely the technology department of the Ministry of Finance.
Its services were largely confined to Jamaica's revenue departments, the Ministry of Finance, and related entities.
FSL gave ICT support to the development and implementation of tax administration reform programmes aimed at "maximising tax collection at a reduced cost," said Cooke.
"The organisation continues to be the major player in the information flow between the revenue departments of the GOJ located throughout the island of Jamaica and other GOJ ministries, departments, and agencies. In addition to this key role, our new mandate captures FSL's role within the framework of the Public-Sector Transformation Unit's recommendations and decisions," he said.
Asked about the dollar value of ICT operations across government, Cooke was forthright: "No, we are not sure of the current total cost across GOJ nor do we know exactly how much will be saved from any consolidation of services."
However, Sinclair McCalla notes that one of the projects, the acquisition and implementation of the new IBM SSO Software Licence Agreement, has realised savings of approximately US$2 million (J$180m).
The changes at FSL are also the result of two strategic reviews completed in 2010.
The reviews led to the restructuring of FSL's Software Engineering Division "from primarily a 'software-development shop' into the Business Solution Services Division - a team mandated to the timely acquisition and implementation of business applications, whether off-the-shelf or in-house developed," said Cooke.
The project office and IT security department and data centre followed.
"With a modern data management centre, an island-wide network infrastructure, and a highly engaged cadre of ICT professionals, FSL has been very successful over the years in improving the revenue collection functions of Government, and has several success stories inside and outside of Jamaica," said Cooke.
"We are therefore in a position to play a greater role in leading the development and implementation of ICT strategies, frameworks, and IT solutions for the GOJ," he said.