In a new report looking at government eServices issued by the Office of the Auditor General, the Auditor General Sue Winspear says that while many government services are now online, there is still room for improvement.
Ms Winspear said she was pleased that a large number of government services were available online, allowing people to conduct essential government business from the comfort and safety of their homes and that “there has been a marked increase in shifting government services online in the recent past, and Cayman now compares well to the top 20 online services provided by governments globally.”
However, she noted that some services, like environmental permits and land title registration applications, were not available online.
“In addition, some services like applying for a driver’s licence still cannot be fully completed online,” she stated. “I urge the government to work towards providing these, and more services, online.”
The report states that the E-Government Unit has played an integral role in shifting the government services online by providing specialist and technical advice. However, government needed to do more to improve the e-government programme’s strategic direction and oversight.
“The government drafted an e-Government strategy in 2015 but never finalised it,” Ms Winspear advised. “One of the main projects in the 2015 draft strategy was the development of the national identity (ID) database and this project is significantly delayed and still requires primary legislation before it can be introduced.”
At the moment, people have to enter and re-enter personal detail into many separate online systems. Having a national ID system would eliminate this need making it more efficient and effective for the public, she believed.
Ms Winspear added: “In 2021, the government started drafting a new E-Government Strategy, a welcome development. However, the draft strategy has significant gaps, such as any references to driving improved efficiency.”
As a result, she said she had noted a recent increase in software write-offs across the government, and an overarching strategy should help alleviate this.
“I urge the government to further develop, finalise and publish a new strategy as soon as possible.”
She also said that government was starting to collect data on customer satisfaction in using online services, but had not yet started to systematically monitor and report on this.
“This is important to determine how easy customers find online services to use and will help identify what improvements are needed,” the Auditor General said. “We also found that the government is not capturing the cost of designing, developing and delivering its projects for online services. This is a significant gap as it is essential information for demonstrating value for money.”
In response to the report, the Ministry of Investment, Innovation and Social Development said it welcomed the feedback and recommendations.
Acting Chief Officer Tamara Ebanks said in many cases items related to areas outside the ambit of the eGovernment Unit, however, they were pleased that many of the recommendations specific to the department were already being complied with or were being actioned currently.
Deputy Governor Franz Manderson said he was proud that using benchmarks against other jurisdictions, the report documented that government had launched, or enhanced, a large number of online services since 2010.
“People can now access over 70 different government services online, including many of the top 20 services provided by governments worldwide. Having so many of our services online to make people’s lives better has been an important accomplishment,” he advised.
The Report’s highlights included that eGovernment’s project management has been effective and the strategy it had pursued largely has aligned with what the United Nations considered to be strategic best practices. Overall customer satisfaction with eGovernment’s projects had been positive. In addition, the report found that eGovernment’s projects had enhanced staff efficiency in the respective departments – including the Department of Commerce and Investment as well as the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.
Ian Tibbetts, Director of the eGovernment Unit, said that during the time period covered by the report, the eGovernment Unit had laid the technical foundation and framework for a national and digital ID system.
“Initiatives such as these are designed to make the Cayman Islands government increasingly agile and responsive, for the benefit of our residents and businesses,” he said.