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Civil Servants not using e-system

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After spending over $700,000 to develop an electronic Government (e-Government) computer system, less than 30 percent of government’s employees are actually utilizing the service.

Government telecoms officials revealed this during the official launch of the Ministry of Telecommunications e-Government Awareness Campaign at the Foreign Affairs conference room on Wednesday.{{more}}

Despite government’s plans to reform this country’s public sector and introduce new technologies to increase productivity and efficiency, the ministry’s statistics revealed that of the 6,000 civil servants in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, only an meagre 84 persons have registered to use the e-Government system and only 28 of those persons are active users of the service since its establishment two years ago.

The information revealed that from some 20 different government units, 85 per cent of public officers in the capital city, Kingstown are able to access this service – through a communications fibre optic backbone – but of the 6,000 public employees the e-Government intranet records a mere six hits (visitors to the site) per day.

While around 700 persons are registered to use the government’s e-mail service, only 210 are currently active users, just about 30 per cent of the registered users to the e-mail listings.

According to Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Telecommunications, Science and Technology and Industry, Allan Alexander, with the coming on-stream of the e-Government awareness campaign more public workers would now be knowledgeable about the services available to them through the e-Government system.

“It is very unfortunate after spending over $700,000 to develop this website and other services, ministries and civil servants alike are still carrying out official business using website like vincysuf.com, caribsurf.com and hotmail.com …these are sometimes on official e-mails, business cards and letter heads, when the government has invested heavily in creating their own domain gov.vc. Why are we, therefore, not advertising our own domain instead of giving expensive advertising free of charge to other domains,” Alexander pointed out.

The permanent secretary noted that the establishment of the e-Government Unit (EGU) would coordinate efforts to achieve the government’s vision for e-Government in the public sector here.

“We want the public workers to partner with the EGU, although the unit would be the agency to facilitate and manage these activities, the actual delivery of e-government is the responsibility of all government agencies,” Alexander said.

According to Minister of Telecoms the Hon. Dr. Jerrol Thompson, the lack of support from persons in the service at an administrative level is an important negative catalyst.

“There are a substantial number of persons in the government service who are not sufficiently IT literate in this new paradigm. This hinders the ability to provide new services … it creates avoidance and defense mechanisms that provide excuses and reduce the desire to use IT services,” Minister Thompson said.

“There is often no fundamental understanding of what e-government offers and sometimes we are met with significant resistance by people from some agencies who are reluctant to change. That’s where the sensitization process and information about the services offered by the e-government unit can help,” the Minster mentioned.

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