Incompetence at the National Insurance Scheme Costing Taxpayers MILLIONS and Counting

The following was posted as a comment to Another NIS Glitch Affecting the Vulnerable blog by The Watcher.
Dr. Justin Robinson, Chairman, National Insurance Scheme

Dr. Justin Robinson, Chairman, National Insurance Scheme

Without knowing the intimate details of the NIS’s problem, I will speak from a position of authority from my involvement in ICT strategy and implementation and from at least 25 years of experience. Barbados is woefully lacking in the ICT arena. This position of inefficiency comes from a lack of vision on the part of ICT decision makers of which they are really none within the government. Let’s look at the supposed CIO of government, a

lthough that is not his official title. This person, who has been named Chief E-Government Officer can move about from ministry to ministry touting glorious projects which he proposes to perform but has yet to show one iota of value.

One case in point, a government WAN or Wide Area Network, proposes to link all government Ministries, Agencies and Departments (MDA) under a single “umbrella” to provide seamless communication between these parties as well as to manage costs which spiralled out of control as many MDA’s procured their own Internet and in some cases Wide Area Connectivity. This “siloed” approach led to vendors of these services, namely TeleBarbados, Cable& Wireless now LIME and Digicel to a lesser extent, charging exorbitant and disparate rates to MDA’s for the same services. So, the lack of a regulatory framework resulted in price gouging for profit. Unable to bring stability to the services government purchases from these vendors, also led to poor and unstable services being offered to government as many departments opted to “cheap out” and purchase residential DSL services and similar services which in many cases could not handle the demands placed on them by the respective agencies.

Enter a now useless and functionally defunct agency funded by government called the Data Processing Department.

At governmental estimates meetings held every year, this department is continuously being questioned as to their value and is regularly bombarded and attacked by other government agencies for non-performance and a lack of strong leadership and guidance in the ICT space. In short, heads of departments feel at a lost with respect to ICT decisions that have to be made as they cannot engage The Data Processing Department for advice and direction. Apparently, the department is so widely disrespected and ignored that they have been nicknamed “The Department of Public-Sector Disappointments” by some insiders who claim that their leadership is diametrically opposite in vision and strategy and that there is pure turmoil, discontentment and low morale in the agency.

Taking the government’s lack of a clear and defined ICT strategy, and coupling that closely to an umbrella agency responsible for government ICT strategy and policy which is dysfunctional and inept, can you expect that NIS to be able to function with any degree of efficiency?

It is very easy to blame a “computer system” for the current mess at the NIS, but a computer system doesn’t procure itself, doesn’t install itself, doesn’t maintain itself, and certainly cant think for itself, although if it could, I bet that many decisions no left ignored would be made with some degree of logic.

As I listened to the exceedingly poor speech delivered by the NIS director detailing why their system was not working, what I heard was nothing more than a bag of excuses. If this joker was worth his weight in cane trash, he would know that any system whether in the stages on implementation as a replacement to another system or as a new implementation altogether, requires that a backup or alternative system be on hand to act as a buffer.

Just imagine if GAIA wanted to implement a new Air Traffic Control system and just shut down the current system before validating by way of extensive testing and remediation the new system, what would happen!

Critical systems have well documented methods by which they are managed and this includes how they can be replaced so that no disruption of service delivery is experienced. Evidently, the NIS doesn’t have access to these documents. So, when an agency like the NIS goes out and spends $69M of the public’s money on ICT upgrades and the result is that these upgrades don’t work, and the public who has paid into their scheme is disadvantaged, those in charge should at minimum be branded as “Enemy Combatants” or at best, given the charge of High Treason and dealt with accordingly.

Nothing is wrong with the technology at the NIS, everything is wrong with the people who purchase, manage and run it. Everything is wrong with their decision making processes, and how these are applied to technology. The technology is not at fault.

This is a woefully feeble attempt at obfuscation!

Delete those useless characters and see how Barbados will reap significant value from its ICT investments!

15 thoughts on “Incompetence at the National Insurance Scheme Costing Taxpayers MILLIONS and Counting

  1. Pingback: Incompetence at the National Insurance Scheme Costing Taxpayers MILLIONS and Counting

  2. Watcher said that the computer system doesn’t procure itself; doesn’t install itself; doesn’t maintain itself; and certainly can’t think for itself. He came very close to understanding the situation at NIS probably without realising it. The Director didn’t install/appoint himself at NIS and certainly can’t think for himself.

  3. The security of tenure in the public service make senior officers like the NIS Director almost laws unto themselves.

    • Observer

      You wrote: “The security of tenure in the public service make senior officers like the NIS Director almost laws unto themselves.”

      With all due respect that statement is rubbish. The rules apply to all. The Director or any other senior public officer can be removed from office for cause. The problem comes when those who are supposed to enforce the rules don’t even know that the rules exist in many cases. On the other hand, many public servants have political protection and yet another set rely on their lodges to protect them when they run foul of the rules.

      It has nothing to do with security of tenure, it is just corruption.


  4. My sources tell me that the board and minister received reports that all testing was done and systems were ready to go.

    • @Observer

      Then we need to hold people accountable. If we can’t fire them we need to injure their reputations. We can’t have the level of incompetence part of managing the most important statutory board in the country.

      On Saturday, 7 March 2015, Barbados Underground wrote:


  5. Any time dealing with more than 99cents , we need 3 person to look out for the CENT, when a dollar is in sight , People get stupid when they send out more money than they make, No one Person or Minister need to be in charge of so much money alone , Greed and Greedy is the order of the day or Office, Let the the conspire to defraud and charged them when they act on taking the money,

  6. “Nothing is wrong with the technology at the NIS, everything is wrong with the people who purchase, manage and run it. Everything is wrong with their decision making processes, and how these are applied to technology. The technology is not at fault.”

    And to know all of this high-level incompetence is taking place against a background where the Chairman of the Board holds a doctorate qualification (PhD)in “Management”. What kind of academic ‘square-peg-in-a-round-hole’ is that?
    Imagine the quality of students coming out of that paper qualification mill and who have come under the tutelage Dr. J R.

    But then again we might just be expecting to much from this academic pipsqueak who is unable to achieve straightforward outcomes such as the routine preparation of annual financial statements; especially for a statutory agency that plays such a pivotal role in the economy and a vital contributor to the maintenance of the country’s social fabric.

    When you engage the services of political yard-fowls you normally have to accept the droppings of shitting ducks.

  7. btw miller did you hear if mia and her band going back to work after all they are being paid at taxpayers expense and that should also be a cause of concern,

  8. Castellated you have a blind faith in the public service processes. They are failing us. Mothers is no focus on outcomes and results its all about the process.

    • If we are commenting about the NIS is it too much to ask for an update on the Financials? Even if the job is ongoing in the interest of decency please update taxpayers for god sakes.

  9. A certain future coalitional regime of Barbados and of which the PDC will be part shall make sure that one of its first official acts will be to set about ABOLISHING this National Insurance and Social Security Scheme in this country.

    As a scheme that has been and is based on the ABSOLUTE THEFT and ROBBERY of countless portions of the remunerations of the relevant persons and businesses in this country, IT WILL BE ABOLISHED by such a regime.

    It and some of its responsibilities shall be partially replaced by a National Providence Fund, whereby persons, businesses and other entities in this country shall VOLUNTARILY make monetary contributions to this National Providence Fund in regard of their saving for purposes of their own financial providence in the likelihood of their meeting some unplanned financial disaster or misfortune or deficiency, in the future, or in the event of their planning for the use of specified amounts of money for individual personal purposes, in the future.

    This Fund shall be in charge of storing and managing and securing the money that will represent the voluntary contributions made to it by the savers. It shall be a Fund itself. Such a Fund shall NOT and shall NEVER be used for purposes of transferring monies out of it in the sense of REINVESTMENTS BEING MADE BY THE FUND INTO ANY PROJECTS PROGRAMS OF ANY KINDS.


    At the inauguration of this National Providence Fund and at the disestablishment of the NISSS, where it is case of individuals who have been promised benefits (old age pensions, disability, maternity, sickness benefits, etc) by the former NISSS, the National Providence Fund shall take over responsibilities for ensuring that such persons get those benefits at the stipulated times, but only up to those points in time where the former NISSS would have promised to do so in the cases of unemployment, severance, maternity, sickness benefits, etc, and ONLY in cases where it had been stealing robbing individuals and businesses of their own rightful and rightfully acquired remunerations, and therefore would have had to do so if it were in existence.

    In the case of the continuation of old age pensions, disability benefits, funeral grants, etc. such shall become the established responsibilities of a PEOPLE’S (IMPROVEMENT) RELATIONS OFFICE.


    • Shouldn’t Minister Byer-Carter be the won coming to the public to explain or defend the cock up at the NIS? Why is minister Ronald Jones throwing bricks at the NIS BEFORE Byer-CArter?

  10. whoever wrote this article has ABSOLUTELY NO knowledge of how certain departments function in government.

    NIS and Data Processing Department are 2 different entities. WHATEVER ICT PROBLEMS NIS encounters has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the Data Processing Department.
    Data Processing Department is a government dept under the Ministry of the Civil Service.
    the NIS is governed by a BOARD OF DIRECTORS

    THIS CLOWN assumes that because the NIS has an IT section and the Data Processing Dept governs most IT in government depts, that the DPD is somehow connected to the NIS. when you want to put news on the net, all this jackass had to do was call either the NIS or the DPD to verify the accuracy of what he wanted to post.

    these 2 entities are in no way connected MR/MISS JACKASS

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