The following was posted as a comment to Another NIS Glitch Affecting the Vulnerable blog by The Watcher.
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!