Public services e-ready (Reproduction)

Published on Jul 11 2009 // Media Monitor

Source: Kuensel
Government organisations can now offer on-line facilities on e-platform

By 2010, obtaining a citizenship identity card, or a land ownership certificate may not take as long as, like some applicants humorously describe it, “after a pair of shoe soles are worn out.”

With the launching of an electronic-platform (e-platform) yesterday in Thimphu, government organisations now have the capability of offering online public services.

Developed by the department of information and technology (DIT), the e-platform is a base system with features that can be used by any organisation to create online application registration forms and to submit do*****ents. Applicants will also be able to keep track of the service being obtained and submit complaints on any delay, all without physically going to the concerned office.

The e-platform will enable government organisations to convert manual procedures into e-services and possibly achieve one of the major goals of the government: providing 75 percent of all pubic services online by 2010.

“Having to visit an office just to find out your application hasn’t been processed would be eliminated,” said DIT senior officer, Jigme Tenzin. “It’ll be a huge relief for many just to be able to check the status of an application online.”

While within the organisation using the e-platform, the concerned officers will be able to monitor the progress of the application or work being processed. Any delay or problems would be visible to all, ensuring transparency and efficiency.

The e-platform model is currently being implemented for the forest department.

Agriculture minister, Lyonpo (Dr) Pema Gyamtsho, said the current manual system in the forest department was inefficient and plagued with nepotism. “This (e-platform) will improve their services,” he said.

But the minister also said it was very important to create awareness and to train the rural community in how to use the system. “Otherwise, it’ll be of no use,” said the minister.

“It’s a user friendly system,” said Tashi Dawa, a DIT officer responsible for implementing the e-platform for the forest department. A primary education was enough to be able to use the system, he said.

Asked how villagers with no educational background could make use of it, DIT’s Jigme Tenzin said that trained IT personnel at community information centres (CIC) would provide this service.  

CICs are a government initiative to provide affordable information access to all levels of Bhutanese society. Currently there are 35 CICs in all but two dzongkhags.

DIT officer, Sonam Drukdra, said, CICs would be established in all gewogs by the 10th plan.

A gewog’s CIC would be responsible for the application, as well as the tracking process, for those not able to operate a computer. Two gewogs in Trongsa, Langthel and Drakten, have been chosen as pilot sites for the e-platform. Online application for the approval of firewood acquisition, fencing posts and prayer flag posts will be available shortly.

DIT is also working with the royal audit authority to provide online audit clearances.

“We request all agencies, whether government or private, to interact with DIT,” said Lyonpo Nandalal, “please use the e-platform.”

United Nations development programme (UNDP) representative, Ms Claire Van der Vaeren, congratulated the government for the establishment of an e-platform. “It’s encouraging that Bhutan has moved to keep up with the trend of e-governance, and it’s important to continue investing in ICT,” she said. The project is being financed by UNDP.

On how secure the system was, DIT officials said they had used a “highly secured framework that even hackers would find difficult to penetrate.” They said that the e-platform was secure, “for now.” Even then, they asked that the name of the security software not be named, just to be safe.