Online government services progressing

A new steering committee hopes to launch an Internet portal this year that would move many Cayman Islands government services online.

Several government departments are ahead of the curve. Drivers can renew licenses online; people can order birth certificates and file company documents with the General Registry; the Planning and Lands and Survey departments have numerous services already available online.

Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, a co-chair on the committee, which met for the first time last month. said, “This program will go forward. There’s been tremendous buy-in from elected officials.”

Ian Tibbetts, government’s new director for e-government, said the committee’s job now is to “develop and maintain a plan that takes us from where we are now to where we want to go.”

The steering committee has several goals, but primarily the idea is to bring all online services into one portal on the website. The new online system will minimize or stop departments from duplicating efforts on data collection and storage, according to a statement from the government. It will also automate some processes and reduce time and costs for services.

The idea for the overhauled government website, Mr. Manderson said, is to make it a one-stop shop to pay government fees and submit applications online.

There has been talk of moving government services online for the better part of a decade.

“There’s no one reason it’s taken so long,” Mr. Manderson said.

Mr. Tibbetts said there are “hidden gems” of government services online. He pointed to new services such as paying driving fees online.

As the new e-gov director, hired in December, Mr. Tibbetts said his job is about communication and talking to government employees about how to move the e-government initiative forward. “The civil service needs to believe in this,” he said. “People have got to see it and feel it for staff to buy into it.”

“Now,” he said, “I’m focused on things that are going to be needed anyway.” He said the work now is to lay the building blocks for future online development in government.

Wesley Howell, a member of the committee and deputy chief for the Ministry of Home Affairs, expressed concerns last year about the privacy and security of moving payment processing and data storage overseas. “I’m uncomfortable with anything that creates a risk,” he said.

Mr. Howell pointed to potential issues with human rights and data protection.

Moving some services to offshore servers or allowing the data to pass through those servers opens it up to potential interception by hackers. Intelligence agencies in the United States and the U.K., for instance, have documented histories of gathering masses of data that pass through the Internet.