June 24, 2012
CHANNEL E-GOV FUND INTO STRATEGIC AREAS
Senator Edgardo J. Angara urged the Aquino administration to be more strategic in allocating and spending the eGovernment Fund (EGF) currently administered by the Department of Science and Technology Information and Communications Technology Office (DOST-ICTO) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
Roughly P8 billion was allocated from the EGF for around 70 government ICT projects between 2003 and 2012. For this year alone, P1 billion was set aside in the national budget for the fund.
"This is such an immense pool of resources that can really make public service more efficient and effective," said Angara during a recent meeting of the Congressional Oversight Committee on E-commerce (COCEC). "But have we truly achieved gains in e-government because of the fund? Has it helped improve public service throughout the country?"
The veteran legislator said that the 2012 Global Information Technology Report of the World Economic Forum (WEF) shows improvements have been achieved in the private sector's usage and absorption of the Internet for business activities. Government is still lagging behind, however.
Surveying 142 economies, the report ranked the Philippines 106th and 103rd respectively in terms of the impact ICT has on improving access to basic services and on enhancing government efficiency.
"Naturally, the private sector is quicker to adapt to today's information-driven economy," explained Angara, also Chair of the Congressional Commission on Science, Technology and Engineering (COMSTE). "But with almost a decade's worth of the EGF, government should have been able to catch up with the ICT revolution by now."
The veteran legislator continued, "I'm sure certain gains have been made since the fund started. But rather than scattering the resources all over the place, I believe targeting a few priority areas will bring up the quality of our public service with much more impact. We will have to be more strategic and decisive if reforms are to truly take place."
Angara is the main proponent of the Data Privacy Act and the Cybercrime Prevention Act, which are both ready for signing by the President, and the measure creating the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), which has yet to be approved by a bicameral conference committee.
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