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Janette Toral

Accountability in P10-B e-Government fund

April 8, 2008 4:45pm
The Commission on Information and Communications Technology, under the Office of the President, is currently working on a roadmap for the information and communications technology sector. I consider this a welcome news, but at the same time, vigilance must be exerted to ensure that this gets done with the interest of the Filipino people in mind.

One component of this big document is the Government Information Systems Plan or GISP. Supposedly, the GISP should serve as basis for all ICT spending in government. Under the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act 8972 or the E-Commerce Law, the document should have been updated to reflect the e-government requirements and make them compliant under the law.

However, since 2005, the GISP was not updated and most projects being undertaken through the fund in relation to the nearly P10 billion worth of e-government spending is very much ad-hoc. As most of the projects since 2002 are still in progress, hardly is there any audit report to date showing how the fund is used on a per project basis.

There must be clear accountability and responsibility as mandated by existing laws as far as the E-Government Fund is concerned.

For instance, the basis for the creation of the E-Government Fund is a mandate in the E-Commerce Law. It required the Department of Budget and Management to allot a budget from savings to fund the e-government requirements of the law.

The CICT got the task to select projects to be approved, despite the absence of an updated GISP. It is also an active recipient of the fund, amounting to more or less P200 million year after year (based on COA audit report of 2006). The reason behind CICT's task is its being an ICT office and its role in the inevitable formation of the Department of Information and Communications Technology.

To avoid doubts on the processes undertaken by CICT, there should be transparency in the implementation of projects. Decision-making on project selection and the parties involved must be explained. Reports on projects approved, the budget, rationale, and verified status of the projects can be posted on their site.

It has been eight years since the passage of the E-Commerce Law. As to where we are in the various facets of e-commerce, e-government, and ICT shall be the focus of this blog. Thank you to GMANews for making me part of this growing blog network.