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The government is making steady progress toward rolling out additional services as part of its Bahamas Government Online (BGOL) initiative, according to a senior official intimately involved with the project.

Speaking in an interview with the Bahama Journal, Deputy National Co-ordinator for Information Technology Wayde Watson explained that an inter-ministerial team is continuing work on several fast track and longer range sub-projects which all form a part of the e-government campaign.

Following the launch of the laws online component last summer one of the projects officials hope to launch this June is an online service that will enable students to access their GLAT, BJC and BGCSE examination results online from a secure website.

"According to our survey that was in high demand and we got good feedback from the officers in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology," Mr. Watson said.

"What we want to do is eliminate a step in the process so that as soon as the Ministry of Education has the results ready they can go online and see their results."

Another new fast track project is an online application service that will enable individuals to request police references or certificates.

A fast track project, Mr. Watson explained, is one that planners expect to have completed within three to six months and at a cost of less than $50,000.

"The process right now is that you have to go in and apply for the character reference or firearms certificate, they will take the application and then tell you to come back on a certain day," he said.

"We want to eliminate one step in that process, which is to enable persons to apply online and then they will be told by e-mail when they need to come back. Because the police have a number of locations where you can pick up character references and certificates we want to send it to your nearest location according to where you live."

That service is also expected to be available to the public by June 2007.

According to Mr. Watson, there were initially six fast track projects, including the introduction of an online labour skills bank, public access terminals, online postal tracking, access via the Internet to various government forms and the posting of Cabinet conclusions online – to be accessible only by the appropriate officials.

The first two of those projects have been completed and launched, the third has been completed but not yet launched, and the fourth mentioned project should be launched by the end of this month, he said.

Work is continuing on the cabinet conclusions project.

"The scope of the labour skills bank is to be able to provide citizens, residents and Bahamian businesses or employers with the opportunity to be able to seek employment opportunities and register for employment opportunities online in a secure environment," he explained.

He further pointed out that the labour skills bank is expected to be especially useful to Bahamians who are abroad and wish to apply for positions listed in the system, as their applications can be forwarded to the prospective employer all from the same secure system which can be accessed at www.bahamas.gov.bs.

Only Bahamian citizens and residents will be allowed to use the system, he said.

The object of the public access terminals project, he said, is for members of the public to be able to obtain information about government information and services from remote locations throughout New Providence and the Family Islands.

Those terminals are currently available at the Carmichael Road, Eastern Public, G K Symonette, Southern Public, South Beach and Yellow Elder public libraries.

Noting that the application procedure for every government service is initiated with a specific request form Mr. Watson said efforts are advancing to add to the 100 or so commonly requested government forms that are currently available online.

"Before we basically had some Adobe PDF forms online, but they weren’t serving the purpose because they weren’t clean, they weren’t easily accessible and they were difficult to find," he said.

"We want to be able to provide clean, easily accessible and downloadable forms in the first phase."

According to Mr. Watson, phase two will enable individuals to submit forms online while phase three will allow persons to access, complete and submit the application form and pay the required fee all via the Internet.

He said the BGOL team is presently at phase one and moving toward phase two of this project.

Reporting on efforts to improve the education and training of personnel Mr. Watson said the Microsoft and Cisco I.T. academy established by the government in conjunction with BTVI last fall is expected to produce major benefits for both the public and private sectors.

"We need to strengthen the I.T. capacity as much as possible," he said.

Officials said in order for the BGOL project, envisioned to be a five-year-long initiative, to be a success key personnel will have to be hired.

In addition to two project managers, four business analysts, and a communications specialist, the BGOL team is also looking to engage persons skilled in website / portal management and office administration.

Autor(en)/Author(s): Darrin Culmer

Quelle/Source: The Bahama Journal, 19.03.2007

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