Transformation is about people, and in his role as the new Minister in the Ministry of Public Administration and Digital Transformation, Hassel Bacchus said one of his focuses will be the impact of technology on citizens.
“This (digital) transformation is not entirely new. There have been (previous) announcements on thrusts and implementation both from government to government, government to business and government to citizens.
“Now, there is a direct focus within the ministry to ensure the specific mandate for digital transformation and digital government is successfully implemented,” Bacchus told Newsday in a brief phone call on Thursday.
The Prime Minister, during the general election campaign, promised a Ministry of Technology. This manifested in "digital transformation" being tacked on to "public administration," but Bacchus noted that facets of digital transformation are quite large and cover all aspects of government and governance.
Bacchus is a 30-year veteran of the information and communications technology (ICT) industry, most notably serving as state telecoms company TSTT’s chief technology officer immediately before he was appointed a minister. Allyson West retains her portfolio as the substantive Minister of Public Administration, and Bacchus said while she would be the primary figure to make pronouncements on the operations at the ministry, he acknowledged that he did have a special focus and mandate regarding digital transformation.
“People will always be the priority…some things are based on the fundamentals – the processes, infrastructure, the underlying technology – but we have to ensure that that there is a cohesive plan that allows for interconnection that leads to the ultimate goal of ease of transition.
"It has to be agile, flexible, secure and trusted to allow people to have the confidence to use (systems) for their benefit.”
Bacchus has only been on the job for about two weeks. He did, however, set his own personal goals in addition to the mandate given to the ministry to improve the lives of citizens via e-government. And whatever he does in the role will be to ensure that citizens’ lives and livelihoods are improved.
“There is a commitment at the ministry to the cause for transformation – not just digital, but public-administration reform in general. Covid19 has accelerated things, but they are urgent – we are working with (timelines) of months, not years. The Prime Minister has made this a priority.”
He said the ministry will go after the low-hanging fruit, especially regarding policy reform, regulation and legislation.
“It’s not just a siloed approach, but communal. There will be consultation.
"All of these things have to be in place. But we will be measuring monthly. There’s a lot of energy and enthusiasm, and great things are in store.”