All federal govt departments to be automated by June 2020, NA body told

NITB official says finance, privatisation and IT divisions have already been converted into 'e-offices'

ISLAMABAD: National Information Technology Board (NITB) Director-General Faisal Iqbal Ratyal on Wednesday briefed the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication about NITB’s current and upcoming projects.

According to the NITB official, the board plans to convert all federal government offices into “e-offices” by June 2020.

“As of now, the Finance Division, Privatization Division, IT and Telecom Division along with 10 other departments have achieved almost 100pc automation,” the DG stated. “These ministries are at ‘Level-4’ [of automation] which means that there is only 10pc paperwork and that too in case of highly classified documents. Everything else is electronic.”

Next to these, at ‘Level-3’ are Aviation Division, Defence Production Division and Power Division, he said.

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“There are 15 departments at ‘Level-2’ including Information and Broadcasting Division, Foreign Affairs Division and Law and Justice Division. Until these divisions are fully automated, the systems and infrastructure already owned by the departments are being utilised while the automation process is underway.”

He said only one department, the Industries and Production Division, is at ‘Level-1’, while there are several at ‘Level-00’ including Human Rights Division, Railways Division, Climate Change Division and Water Resources Division.

“These departments don’t even have the equipment or other related technical capabilities required for automation.”

The parliament members in attendance expressed concerns over lack of modern technological equipment in many significant departments. The NITB DG assured that the board is focusing on these departments as a priority.

In addition to this flagship project of NITB, Faisal told the committee that NITB is also in the process of launching a Whatsapp-like software, besides an alternative to the commercial emailing systems.

He said that once such a system is operational, NITB would be able to control the flow and security of federal government’s data from National Telecommunication Corporation headquarters instead of having to go to individual offices and tell government employees not to use USBs or any other form of technology that can leak data.

“If someone leaks any document from their computer directly, we will also be able to trace that,” he added.

He continued that NITB is also in the process of establishing a Data Nervous System (DNS) which would be linked to Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), NADRA, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), taxes departments and public health departments.

“The board is preparing a software to control money laundering and fake news, besides ensuring streamlining of Kamyab Jawan programme, Ehsaas programme, as well as eProcurement for Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA),” he added.

Faisal noted that these programmes are all aimed at making day-to-day operations easier and more secure, and to ensure that no federal data leaves sight or control of NITB.

The committee also pondered over the progress of IT parks in Abbottabad and Peshawar. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Technology Board (KPITB) Deputy Director Asim Ishaq told the committee that feasibility reports are needed for these two projects, adding that revenue clearance for the reports has already been received.

“The report pertaining to Abbottabad IT Park is in process and will be ready for submission within three months, after which we will submit the PC-1 to the ministry,” he said, adding “the report for Peshawar IT Park is yet to be prepared”.

KPITB MD Dr Shahbaz Khan also shared the department’s plans for Pakistan Digital City (PDC), which is to be situated in Haripur near the Khanpur Dam Road. He also requested the committee to put forward a request to make PDC into a Special Economic Zone.

In response to this, Additional Secretary (IT & Telecom) Jawad Paul said that even though such a suggestion had not been formerly included in the agenda of the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC), it has already been suggested and included as a discussion topic for the upcoming Joint Working Group (JWG) meeting.

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Syeda Masooma
Writer is business reporter at Pakistan Today
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