The Ministry of the Civil Service is in the process of developing a new e-Government Master Plan.

This disclosure came today from the Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of the Civil Service, Allyson Forte, as he addressed a brief ceremony before signing the Wide Area Network (WAN) contract between Government and Digicel (Barbados) Limited, at the E. Humphrey Walcott Building.

The cost of the project is BBD $2.4 million, and 32 sites, encompassing 70 ministries and departments, are in the first phase, while 25 sites will be completed in the second phase.

Mr. Forte further revealed that a Knowledge Management System would be implemented, and pointed out that the WAN would facilitate the process by providing the technical infrastructure. He explained that the WAN would serve as a key infrastructural element and a catalyst for Government to aggressively implement its proposed e-Government programmes.

???Additionally, the WAN is expected to play a crucial role in the execution of the HRD (Human Resource Development) Strategy now being implemented. Knowledge distribution, through formal and informal networks, is essential to economic performance. Access to timely and reliable information is critical to decision making, policy formulation and programme implementation in the public and private sectors???

???Therefore, the network will provide the infrastructure for Government to implement its HRD Strategy and e-Government programmes, and create an opportunity for the rationalisation of Government???s current data and voice networks,??? he stated.

Mr. Forte said the network was also expected to provide, among other things, high-speed inter-agency connections for greater communication and service delivery efficiencies; an internet gateway for Government which is secure and cost effective; and reduced operational cost through standardisation and economies of scale.

He added that the network was also expected to provide extensive utilisation of IP telephony with resultant cost savings. He continued: ???In fact, this building has experienced 53 per cent savings on its telecommunications bill alone, with the implementation of a new hosted VoIP phone system and Dedicated Internet Access provided by Digicel. This is expected to be replicated across the public service.???

The Acting Permanent Secretary noted that 12 WANs were currently being utilised within the public sector but they were developed independently and no connectivity now existed between them. He explained that these WANS would eventually be replaced or integrated into the new government WAN.

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