Sisulu gives IT wish list


At the launch of a major Information and Communication Technology summit
Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu challenged roleplayers to
come up with strategies to secure government information, deliver simpler services to
citizens, and develop a vision of a more connected government.

The minister wanted a strategy on the re-engineering and streamlining of
business processes which would contribute to government’s strategic objectives by
giving citizens, business and other stakeholders more effective services.

The Sisulu wish list also asked for the development of immediate and interim
measures to support and secure government’s ICT environment. Others include
redefining the ICT model for a single public service, as well as institutional
arrangements for an effective team for transformation and the beginning of a secure,
cost effective and aligned ICT capability for the State.

Sisulu’s request for ICT security should be seen against the backdrop of recent
reports of attacks on government information.

According to Jerry Vilakazi, chairperson of the Board of the South African State
Information Technology Agency (Sita), who spoke on behalf of the Minister, during
the past few days, there have been reports of "hackers attempting to obtain
government information'.

These hacking attempts have put more emphasis on data.
Vilakazi said the gathering had to align current strategies with the National
Development Plan (NDP), which seeks to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by

The readiness of the public sector was also a key pointer to success. Therefore,
the attention of the meeting should focus on the public sector ICT strategy, identify
skills needed, the impact of governance, and how free and open source software
would improve service delivery.

Improving the delivery of public services required appropriate infrastructure,
skilled personnel, functional institutional structures and competent leadership. Sita
was building a sustainable capacity in the local ICT industry, Vilakazi said.
If the goals of the NDP were to be achieved, ICT had to be used to execute the NDP
vision cheaper and quicker.

ICT landscape in SA

Assessing the ICT landscape in South Africa, Vilakazi said the country had fallen
behind in the sphere of e-government in the past 10 years. According to a United
Nations survey, South Africa has dropped from the 45th position in 2003 to 101 in

"Yes, our neighbours have also declined, but we have to rise to the challenge
and lead the way in the region and in Africa,' Vilakazi said.

E-government has been defined as the use of ICT to allow greater public access
to information, facilitate more accessible government services, promote more and
efficient government, and make government more accountable to citizens, business
and other stakeholders.

Despite SA having slipped on the UN list, e-government still held great promise
and strides have been made. Examples include the Department of Home Affairs’ cell
phone tracking and notification of ID applications, SARS’ e-filing system, and
electoral e-voting.

Of the future of Sita, Vilakzi said it will not be shut down, but will be fixed and
will deliver on its mandate of giving a coherent national ICT agenda and
implementation mandate.

He sent a "passionate plea accompanied by a strong call that we comply with
the law' when it came to procurement. Sita would not hesitate if any deviation from
the law occurred. -