New board to examine government e-commerce

| 21/06/2010

(CNS): The goal of allowing the public to do business with government electronically is to be examined by a newly created three-member board. The initiative aims to streamline government business with the use of information technology. Government officials said the move will help cut expenditure, boost efficiency, improve customer service and “foster interactions between government departments and members of the community” who do business with it.

Chaired by George Town MLA, Ellio Solomon  Cabinet Secretary Orrett Connor; and Chief Officer in the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs Franz Manderson will also serve on the new “E-Government Board” which has been appointed by Cabinet.
The members are tasked with recommending and overseeing the application of technology to restructure and re-engineer business processes. The board will oversee a series of small review teams, including private-sector leaders and businessmen, who will help identify out-of-date official business processes and recommend to the board how best to develop a long-term e-government strategy.
The new board will be seeking the views of everyone involved and will allow the wider public the opportunity to provide feedback.
"The ‘E’ is no longer simply for ‘electronic’, but is equally about our pursuit for perfection, seeking to ‘evolve’ the way we do business," Solomon said. "I believe that the economic challenges that we now face as a country must be used to encourage a change in the way we do business and to take our position as leaders in the region."
E-commerce in general faces a number of hurdles in Cayman in the private sector as well as the public, not least because of the failure by most of the retail banks to offer on-line merchant accounts. With the exception of Butterfield, local banks are reluctant to offer the necessary facilities that would allow business to sell their goods on line.
Although the vast majority of Cayman Islands businesses have websites the lack of online payment systems is acting as a barrier to the development of local e-retail.
Before a business can accept money online it must set up an internet payment gateway and then have that gateway pass the money to their bank, but without a special online merchant account the business owner cannot receive the payments. Tower Market introduced a gateway to Cayman called C-pay some five years ago expecting it to facilitate the take off of online shopping, but because of the slow uptake by local banks to offer online merchant accounts, e-retail still only accounts for a tiny percentage of trade in Cayman.
Cayman’s broadband internet use has grown rapidly in the last few years, and according to the Economics and Statistics Office, more than 60% of households now have broadband internet access.
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  1. Anonymous says:

    The application of Knowledge Management is needed to provided ways for Government to document processes and expertise that might not be written down however carried out each day. This includes huge opportunities for better management, storage of data and collaboration. We need this to drive business and engage the public through a range of mediums. Two thumbs up!!

  2. RetroWhyRus says:

    It’s good to keep the committee tight; with only 3 members, 2 of whom are senior government officials, there is a center for fast decisions (theoretically).

    Hopefully, the Committee will solicit help from those in the private sector who have actually DONE e-enablement of business processes.

    By the way, e-commerce is just ONE type of transaction that can be e-enabled. Payments to government, while an excellent place to start, aren’t the main area where inefficiencies live.

    Take for example, the various Immigration boards; applications are paper-based. So are Police records. Birth certificates. Copies of passports, drivers licenses, etc. Big fat bundles of paper. And if one piece should go missing…

    Take for example our Customs Department. Bills of Lading. Airway Bills. Invoices. Receipts. Cargo Manifests. All paper. All required to complete workflow processes.

    In the two quick examples above, there ARE customer payments involved, but those are only a part of the entire process…

    Mr. Solomon, please seek out those who KNOW about this stuff!

  3. Data Architect says:

    This is certainly the way of the future and it would have been done earlier, but the same roadblock keeps getting in the way. In a nutshell, here it is.

    In the days of plenty of cash, government listened to consultants who proposed to run the systems off an Oracle database system because it was deemed to be the most suitable for the purpose.

    It was also incredibly expensive and certainly so for a population the size of Cayman. Anyway, they plodded ahead and even got some team members on board who were able to develop applications in house.

    This development team was grossly over-stretched and lots of good initiatives are still gathering dust because we don’t have the resources to complete them.

    The final nail in the coffin was the recent departure of the gentleman who oversaw the development effort.

    To hire an army of Oracle developers now would cost us a small fortune (which we don’t have), so we will have our first meeting and come up with all kinds of wonderful initiatives because computers are magic and can do anything, can’t they?

    Then reality will bite and we will realise that we don’t have the resources and it will be business as usual. Lots of talk and no action. Unskilled people shuffling papers around, taking 3 hour lunch breaks. Hell, if I had to do those boring jobs, I’d take 3 hours as well.

    Anyway, there are solutions and if I honestly thought anyone would listen, I ‘d spend another half hour and expound on a few of them. If the powers that be really want to know, they will search them out.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I am glad to see that an effort is being made to allow people to do business with Government over the internet.

    Congrats and best of luck with this initiative to Mr. Solomon and the rest of his Committee.

  5. Here is a thought says:

     What happened to the old E-Commerce board??? Come on, at least speak to someone who actually knows something about computers, cloud services, social media, and online payments….these appointees will not even know where to start.  How about speaking to someone in the IT Global business???  

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree. The board members have no qualification in my opinion to "recommend" any sort of technology. This is another prime example of policy makers not taking any consideration from including experts.

    • Anonymous says:

      This initiative is not about E-Commerce oustide of the government at this time. It is strictly E-Government…dealing with the do you know they haven’t spoken to people in IT Global business or are you upset they just haven’t spoke to you!

  6. Anonymous says:

    At last they’ve found something for Elio to do.

    • Anonymous says:

      lol, that’s too funny but 100% correct I think.

    • Anonymous says:

      What I think is really sad is that you put a comment like this online for all to read and don’t even have a clue that there was no E-Government initiative before Ellio Solomon came to office and he is the initiator. No one had to tell him what to do. Now on the other hand the "E-Business board" (totally different than E-Government) was formed by Linford Pierson in 2001, Ellio Solomon and Jim Knapp were the ones to push to liberalize telecommunications during that time.

      In 1989, Mr. Solomon was instrumental in creating the IT Strategy #12 in the Vision 2008 and presented it to the then Cabinet, which gives him a great advantage in handling this initiative. His history and work experiences prove he is capable of handling E-Government.

      Mr. Solomon keep up the good work. Those who care about this country and want to see our government move ahead are supporting your hard work.

      To the writer of the above comment: Before you tear someone down…please get your facts straight because what you don’t see is that places like CNS and the Compass and Net News DO NOT put much if any history into their articles…just the "HERE AND NOW" which is a great disservice to the public and to the many people who are trying to help this country behind the scenes.