ICTO: 70% of govt agencies interconnected by mid-2013

Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO) Executive Director Usec. Louis Napoleon Casambre presides over the 13th ASEAN Telecommunications and IT Senior Officials Meeting in Cebu. InterAksyon,com

MACTAN, Cebu — As much as two thirds of the entire government bureaucracy will have their systems interconnected, and thus would reap benefits from data and information sharing, by the middle of next year, a ranking government official revealed to reporters here Thursday.

Speaking at the sidelines of the 12th ASEAN Telecommunications and Information Technology Ministers Meet (TelMin) in Cebu, Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO) Executive Director Usec. Louis Napoleon Casambre said they are on track to implement the iGovPhil project to cover Metro Manila by the middle of 2013.

“The iGovPhil project will be operational by mid-next year. Meaning, all agencies in Metro Manila will be connected,” Casambre said, pointing out that about 70 percent of all government agencies are currently located in Metro Manila.

Integration of agencies located across the country will soon follow, he added.

iGovPhil, launched in June this year, will see the interconnection of government agencies into a central IT system that allows for data sharing, quicker deployment of e-services, and online transactions, among others.

In an earlier report, Denis Villorente, officer in charge of the National Computer Center and one of the proponents of the project, cited results from the recent UN survey on e-Government, which showed how the Philippines fell to rank 88 in 2012 from rank 31 in 2005 in terms of providing online services to its citizens.

“Even Vietnam has overtaken us in terms of the world e-Government rankings,” Villorente said. “It’s a challenge for us to look at how we are implementing e-Government in the Philippines so we can really move up in terms of performance.”

The project, according to Villorente, will address common ICT-related problems in government, such as the lack of infrastructure and manpower, the high cost of technology, the lack of integration among government agencies and the lack of connectivity in rural communities.

The project will also act as a springboard for the government to jump into the cloud, making the Philippines one of the early adopters in ASEAN in terms of cloud computing.

Initial applications under the project will include email and an online payment gateway, Casambre said, with other e-services to be integrated once the system begins scaling out.

An initial budget of about P500 million has officially been allotted for the project.

Department of Science and Technology Sec. Mario Montejo, who was also present for the TelMin conference here, said aiming for connectivity of all government offices will allow the country to be competitive once the ASEAN region launches an integrated economic union by 2015.

“The government is very committed [to this],” Montejo said. “It will really improve the productivity of the people. And we have to be as efficient and as productive, or even more, than our neighbors. Otherwise, mapag-iiwanan tayo (we’ll be left behind).”

Casambre added: “We all know that ICT is benefiting the country tremendously. Connecting with our ASEAN neighbors will bring economies of scale not only financially, but also socially.”

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