E-Local Governance and Online Research
IT makes us feel good to know that there are projects going on in the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in improving local governance and the conduct of research. One of the more significant initiatives in the use of ICT is that of the National Computer Centers E-local government project which was initially funded by the Department of Science and Technology. Now, with 100 million pesos allocated for the project, NCC Director Maria Teresa Camba will now be able to establish 100 community e-centers nationwide. Each CeC shall be provided with three computer units with printer and fax machine and cable connections with LGU counterpart support in the form of technical staff and physical space.
At a forum on e-local governance organized by the Philippine Communication Centrum Foundation, a UNESCO project, Bulacan Governor Josefina de la Cruz, Marikina Mayor Ma. Lourdes Fernando and the LGU representatives of Antipolo City, Quezon City, and Naga City, shared experiences in their e-governance program. A major focus is that of bringing about greater community participation through regular communication with the people. Many of their websites are quite impressive well designed with animation features and in many cases, interactive. The forum organizers had earlier prepared criteria based on currency of information (regular updating), functionality (ease in information search), content (usefulness of information), aesthetics, and E-government values (provision of services, feedback channels, responsiveness, transparency).
They also evaluated about 300 websites of provincial, city and municipal governments and will soon announce the winner in the search. Among the more popular systems that have been set up include a Personnel Management system for improving internal communication and efficiency; the automation of business transactions for promoting a business-friendly environment; and a Geographic Information System (GIS) which supports real property tax administration, thus resulting in the doubling of tax collection. The GIS is also used for tracking malnourished children thus providing a good picture of the state of nutrition in the community. The GIS system installed by the Fisheries Resource Management Project of the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries in many of its pilot communities in the eleven regions of the country has been an effective mechanism for monitoring progress in resource enhancement, law enforcement, and municipal licensing of commercial and municipal fisherfolk. At the cost of R52 M, which Josie de la Cruz says is payable in three years, the GIS has proven to be a sound investment as it is able to redirect resources to where they are needed.
Among the improvements noted by the local executives included that of reduction of time spent in processing of data as well as labor costs. Costs of procurement through online bidding and public offerings have likewise been reduced. Some websites have health service programs for children and senior citizens information centers. Placing online the budget and how it is spent has made transparency and accountability in governance a reality.
Both Secretary Cerge Remonde, head of the Government Media Group and Undersecretary Virgilio Pena, Chairman of the Information and Communication Technology Commission who keynoted the forum, underscored the centrality of ICT in the Medium-Term Development Plan. …