IT touted as cost solution

| 26/05/2011

(CNS): The government is planning to introduce more and expand existing on-line and e-services in the hope of making it more efficient for less money. In the Throne Speech delivered to the Legislative Assembly on Monday by the governor, the government has cited the use of information technology as a cost cutting solution for delivering services and information to the public. Duncan Taylor said that computer services would be expanding online government services and implementing advanced automation and business reporting systems. “These efforts will help government agencies increase efficiency, without increasing staff numbers,” he said. 

Computer Services’ expansion of the electronic document management system will offer government agencies the ability to revamp processes and procedures, improve workflows, and minimise costs for storing and manipulating paper documents, the governor said. Fom paying fines on-line at the court to submitting information to the Cayman Islands Gazette website, government will be using the internet for more services.

He also said that civil servants would be offered “blended e-learning” to provide them with targeted, accredited training and qualifications through the Civil Service College, in partnership with top universities. 

The governor spoke, too, about introducing video links to the prison to reduce the number of journeys inmates on remand have to make to and from the court, which would be both a cost cutting and safety measure. The country’s planned CCTV project will also depend on the upgrading of technology to improve community security.

The Department of Vehicle and Drivers’ Licensing finally has plans to develop e-services for the renewal of drivers’ and vehicle licenses, allowing people to pay on-line and avoid one of the islands' most notorious queues. At Lands and Survey, scanning of all survey files is also expected to be completed this fiscal year to allow full online research facilities for licensed land surveyors and department staff. 

The government has been slow to take advantage of the possibilities offered by new technology and in particularly delivering services, the ability for people to pay on line and providing information. Despite having set up an e-business commission, government departments are still not offering comprehensive e-services.

Although nearly every government department and public authority has a website, few utilize them to their full advantage. Many have not been updated since they were established as a tool to assist with the implementation of the Freedom of Information Law.

Speaking at a Chamber of Commerce “Be informed” series presentation on Wednesday evening, the deputy chief officer in the Ministry of Labour talked about plans to re-organise labour, training and pensions. In his speech Vaughan Carter pointed to the fact that the job placement unit is still attempting to match employers to employees with manual lists of candidates and jobs. Immigration and labour service are two areas in particular that many believe could dramatically improve government efficiency and cut costs if more oftheir services were available on line.

However, given that customs has only just begun accepting payments at the office by credit card, any immediate expectations of a revolution in e-government may well be disappointed.

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  1. Sunneversets says:

    There are some criticisms of the Governor here for "not doing enough".  What is he meant to do?  Caymanians asked for more and more power to be devolved from national to territorial government and now they want the Governor to do "more" (of what they usually don't say). Cayman is starting to get the level of governance it asked for.  It is also getting the quality of governance that this can bring about. 

    Enjoy the politically connected feeding at the trough of public funds, enjoy the inability to trim the vastly ineffifient civil service, enjoy the permanent whiff of corruption.  But don't ask the Governor to do "more", you cannot have your cake and eat it.

  2. anon says:

    The CI Govt accounting system is computerised and has been for years. See how good the departmental accounting is now?? Let's face it – you design and install a new fancy system and the people employed to run it will just blame it when they fail to deliver -as usual. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Computers are only as good as the people using them and the information input into them.  If a systematic approach is used consistently across the board and all financial info is entered on a system which has been specifically chosen to provide the reporting and other requirements needed, then the computer system would work perfectly.  However, I doubt very much that all financial info is volunteered or presented for entry in the first place, in which case you should (again) blame the persons responsible and not the computer system.

      Ignorance is bliss, oui?

  3. I wonder says:

    I wonder just how much effort has gone into the feasibility side of these initiatives? I note that there is an RFP out now asking for people to submit proposals to assist Government with 3 initiatives including;

    1) Developing a web-based application in support of a Unique National Identification system.  This system will eventually support the Cayman Islands e-Government initiative, particularly as it relates to the delivery of e-Services to legal residents;
    2) Allow access to Police Clearance Reports from the Passport office in support of renewals or new Passport applications, and
    3) Provide an automated Vehicle License Renewal and Validation system.

    The due date is in June!

    This seems like a very "expensive" initiative to be launching now, and based on the fact that the budget has been submitted means that someone has put their finger in the air and guessed at the cost of the project. The requirement for this RFP is that it will be a fixed burget project and fixed quotes are being requested.

    If this is part of Governments budget whay are they just asking for proposals now?

    Have they considered that there are relatively few economies of scale to be gained here because we have a population of less than 70,000 and this system might not pay for itself for more than 2-3 years?

    Have the business analysts looked at the current procedures with a view to perhaps improving those before we go headlong into re-creating a manual mess in cyberspace?

    These are all noble initiatives, but I somehow sense that not enough research has been done and that these initiative are the result of some pushy politician who just wants it done!


  4. Joe B says:

    Useing the infamous CIG CS financial records dept. as an example of haveing local people vs skilled in a complicated job it will cost 5 times as much and you will still have more problems than solutions.  

    Unless it is privatized and the company can hire real skill and get rid of non skilled. (not going to happen in the new Cayman).

  5. petermilburn says:

    If this IT who-ja-ma-call-it will help streamline Govt and help them get back on track with accounting and other aspects of running Govt then I certainly hope it will work out for them.I may be way out of my depth with this comment but anything that will help keeps costs down will go a long way.Best of luck and hopefully we have many young qualified Caymanians to do the job.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I say the government should start another talk show and create a blog like CNS.  These are the businesses that make money!!

    • Anonymous says:

      And the truth will set you free, can you say CENSORSHIP, loved this joke, thanks i really needed that

  7. Rorschach says:

    This is a nice suggestion, but BIG MAC isn't going to give up world touring to do "business" by video conference…

    • Anonymous says:

      "Without increasing staff numbers".  Let's see…Govt IT Department:  Gee, when the CCTV job was advertised, over 40 CAYMANIAN out of work IT professionals applied. (Thanks Maples, Butterfield, C&W for the downsizing!) soooo WHY are there so many ex-pats still on fast track status contracts with the Governement IT Department???

      Until the Govt. department favourtism, political agendas, and immigration frace stops, we will not be able to start to climb out of this mess.

      • Anonymous says:

        Your joking I take it. How can government departments run by Caymanians favour expats? Are you suggesting that Caymanian employers favour expats over there own country men and women. If this is so, we can surely stop blaming expats and look no further then the Caymanians running the show. 

        • Anonymous says:

          Obviously you didn’t get the memo.  For your information there is actually a grand conspiracy amongst all public and private entities in Cayman (even those owned/run by Caymanians) where they all want to pay thousands of dollars in relocation packages and 10s of thousands of dollars in work permit fees so they don’t need to give jobs to all the hard working and qualified local work force.

        • Caymanian Concern says:

          Okay…how many expats still in civil service?  How many Caymanians are still unemployed?  I'm just saying that the civil service has to answer to no one and it is a closed shop.  Contracts are renewed without the opportunity for locals to apply for the positions and without rollover for civil service, anyone in those roles are fast-tracked into status.

          Of course you can get around this by saying long term CS have status, my question is how many CS were actually born in Cayman? (I know we need to import police, teachers, doctors) I'm talking about administration and managment roles.

          • Si O'Nara says:

            Witness the festering prejudice with boils under the surface of much of the posts here bubbling its way to the top on this one . . .

      • Rorschach says:

        I have to disagree with you.. I happen to know that there were not even 40 TOTAL applications for the CCTV position of which you speak…and BTW…a CAYMANIAN got the top job…and there is 100% Caymanian staff in the positions that are there…how does that relate to your question about Goverment IT??  I don't know…maybe you should ask them since the Governement IT dept. has NOTHING to do with CCTV….

      • Kung Fu Iguana says:

        At least some of these firms "downsized" because immigration made senior staff retention so difficult the businesses moved IT functions to other places. 

  8. nauticalone says:

    Hope it works better than the Airport parking system.


  9. Caymanians for long range Planning says:

    If you really want to see the potential of online IT services for Government look at website for Scottsdale Arizona. One of the best that I have seen.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry, I don't see this in the context of the Cayman Islands.

      It's not a bad website but then Arizona benefits from professional 24/7 IT backup the same as the rest of the USA and the fact that contractors who screw up are going to get their a***s sued – that won't happen with CIG.

      The way government tendering is being run right now thisis going to be a repeat of Matrix, Boatswain's Beach, Operation Tempura and all the other expensive screw ups in the past. Even the CCTV project is currently struggling and that, using readily available technology, should have been a 'turn key' operation. 

  10. Shock and Awe says:

    Man walks into office with water bill.  Walks up to counter.  Two people are playing on their BlackBerries one is reading the paper.

    "I'd like to pay my water bill."

    "Take a number."

    Man takes number from automated machine.

    Man waits.

    Number is called by automatic machine.

    Walks up to counter.

    "I'd like to pay my water bill."

    Man is eating a sandwich.

    "Wait just a minute."

    Man waits at counter.

    "Go over to the machine and follow the instructions."


  11. Anonymous says:

    Talylor described the process of setting this budget as 'stressful and prolonged' as he thanked all those who had worked on it."  But he was so anxious to leave the Legislative Assembly to continue the rest of his vacation in the Cayman Islands…

    You go Duncan!  The IT solution!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Been there, seen it, done it and it don't work.

    For a population the size of the Cayman Islands the initial outlay, plus recruitment of the specialised staff or contractors required, will result in duplicated expenditure on a level that would take years to recover from any possible cost cutting.

    In fact the history of similar public sector IT projects in the UK suggests that, although the process may become quicker and more efficient, the actual financial benefits are minimal. You still end up with the same number of staff, it's just that their role changes from manually processing the information to dealing with queries when the automated process goes wrong. 

    This is yet another 'wave the magic wand and everything will be put right' solution


  13. Anonymous says:

    nice one duncan…… now what about commenting on some of the real issues?

    • Anonymous says:

      This IT upgrade etc. will not help in making those Services anymore efficient, it will make those CS-Employees even more sleepy if you know what I mean… is just a sad story but the truth unfortunately!