The budget for the new e-government platform appears to have been bumped up from an earlier$10 million, with State Minister for Finance Zhivargo Laing asserting the spend will be nearer to$12 million.
It's money that will go towards a$4.6 million contract with IBM.
"Some$10 million, almost$12 million is related to our effort to advance e-government in The Bahamas,"he said in the House of Assembly yesterday."[The IBM funds]are for providing the physical hardware and software and ongoing services in respect of e-government services. We are[also]paying$649,999 to IDA International, a Singapore consultancy group that is spearheading the e-government program, for their consultancy services.
"There is also some$3.398 million for a Singapore contract for actual implementation that will come on stream at the end of July, which the Singaporeans are facilitating."
The new platform intends to facilitate a more efficient public service when it goes live in July.
Even though the country is transitioning to this new model, The Bahamas is behind other nations in the Caribbean in terms of implementing such a system.
Added to those earlier payments, an additional$500,000 will be paid to another company known for organizing data.
"This reform is not a simple undertaking, we have to go to every government ministry and department, collecting content,"Laing said."There is a company that has done this for Trinidad and Tobago and we engaged this company to do that for us. That will cost us about half a million dollars, so provisions are being made for that to happen."
The government will also be making provisions to the tune of$800,000 for a data warehouse for the Government of The Bahamas, where only certain persons will have clearance levels to search all information. Everyone else with access will be limited to certain areas of the virtual data warehouse.
When govnet.bs launches, Bahamians will be able to pay business license fees, fines, real estate property taxes, renew drivers licenses and apply for business licenses online.
Laing said earlier that the new model would also benefit small-and medium-sized business owners, making the tendering process for government jobs much easier and overall making it more efficient to land contracts.
Director of Information Technology June Collie said earlier that The Bahamas'neighbors are a step ahead in e-government, but The Bahamas intends to catch up, following the same model as Singapore, which is now ranked 11th in e-government development, according to the United Nations.
"Currently The Bahamas is ranked 65th in terms of e-government[and]with the players in the region we are a good ways behind Barbados according to U.N. rankings,[and]we know that Trinidad is doing some massive e-government program to change their implementation,"Collie said.
"We feel that Singapore has a model that has really worked and improved the lives of its citizens, and they are now a technology-driven economy and the government pushing e-government in Singapore was the catalyst for that. If we can follow that model and learn from their lessons and apply the best practices, we're in a position to surpass some of those earlier implementations for e-government."
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