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Features - July 2011



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Advancing e-government

Advancing e-government

Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance updates on internet technology contributions from the public sector

The Bahamas Investor Magazine
July 13, 2011
July 13, 2011
Zhivargo Laing

The government of The Bahamas seeks to provide effective and efficient services to society and believes that by using today’s information and computer technology it is possible to do so. Toward this end, the government has completely overhauled and upgraded its Government Wide Area Network (GWAN), on which runs the treasury systems that pay civil servants; the human resource systems that manage employment and promotions within the service; the passport systems that control the production of travel documents; the business licence and property tax systems; the road traffic systems; and a host of other critical systems that service the public.

In 2008, the government signed a contract with IBM to completely revamp its network. That project, which was priced at about $1 million, came in on time and below budget. The new network was completed on November 6, 2009, and came on line November 10, 2009. It now has the following features:

  • improved bandwidth capacity to support current activities, future growth, and more than 10,000 concurrent connections in the public zone
  • software to manage Internet connections and filter content based on Internet policies
  • redundancy to ensure the network stays functional in the case of equipment failure
  • system monitoring tools to manage the traffic on the network pro-actively
  • tools to secure all components on the network from unauthorized access
  • updated spam filtering and virus protection tools.

To further improve the system, in November last year, the government signed a contract with IDA International, a consultancy arm of the Singapore government, to establish a comprehensive platform for delivering e-government in The Bahamas. The cost of the project will be around $10 million. This will include three tracks: (i) An e-government network development track, to allow for the delivery of e-government services; (ii) A governance track, to ensure the appropriate rules and protocols for delivering online services; and (iii) A service delivery track, that will see the implementation of seven e-services by the end of July 2011, which are:

  • payment of business licence fees
  • payment of real property tax
  • payment of fines
  • renewal of driver’s licence
  • application for business licences
  • vendor inquiry (payments, invoices and purchase orders)
  • service-wide customer service.

Under the new e-government system, each user will have a unique identifier that will enable them to access all government agencies with online services. Once registered with the system, there will be no need to register with multiple government agencies.

In addition to these implementations, the government is also proceeding with the following:

  • an overhaul of The Bahamas government website that will be user driven and will have richer and more up-to-date content
  • the instalment of a data warehouse that will allow for much more efficient collation of information and more robust use of that information for analysis and policy making.

When these developments are complete, The Bahamas will be one of the most advanced e-government jurisdictions in the region and will have greatly enhanced its economy and competitiveness.

Bio: Zhivargo Laing

  • Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance Zhivargo Laing was sworn in as the Free National Movement (FNM) representative in the House of Assembly for the Marco City constituency in 2007. He graduated from the University of Western Ontario, Canada, with a bachelor’s degree in economics. He completed post-graduate studies in business administration at George Washington University in Washington, DC.
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