Residual resistance to DITT overarching role

ICT: Despite the Department of Information Technology and Telecom (DITT) being granted a parenting or management role over all ICT officers in the government since at least 2009, some agencies have still been resisting the change.

The move to make the DITT a parent agency of all ICT officers was to prevent duplication of work across agencies and, therefore, wasting resources.

However, despite the cabinet and the prime minister again approving the move in January this year, the department continued to face resistance, said the DITT director Phuntsho Tobgay.

He pointed out that one agency even refused to send their ICT professionals to the recent annual ICT conference that is hosted by the information and communications ministry.

“We have that kind of agency centric perception which has to change,” Phuntsho Tobgay said.  But he also pointed out that it could also be due to “personality” issues.

The director said that, while some of the agencies have relented and have begun collaborating with the DITT, there would be issues with some agencies. “This is going to be one of the change management issues that we’ll face,” he said.

Director Phuntsho Tobgay said that the move comes about primarily to improve ICT service delivery in all government agencies.  He explained that there were many weaknesses with the old system.

For one, ICT professionals were expected by their agencies to multitask and deliver beyond their capabilities. “And they were very incompetent, because the range of ICT services they were required to deliver was just too much for them,” Phuntsho Tobgay said.

Following an analysis, the DITT has found that there are 19 core competencies or skills required by the Bhutanese public sector.  Of these, the DITT has required that each ICT professional should concentrate only in five competencies.

However, if a situation arises, such as the development of a specific project by an agency, and it is found that their ICT professional lacks the competency for that project, then the DITT, as the parent agency has to step in.  The department intervenes by identifying an ICT professional with the required competency from an expert pool and deputing that professional to the agency in need.

One expert group for InfoComm Security, comprised of at least seven professionals, has already been formed. More are in the pipeline.

DITT ICT management deputy chief, Hemlal Subedi, said seven expert pools are planned, one each for InfoComm security, ICT master planning, network analysis and design, system analysis and design, telecom analysis, and help desk support. “The number may increase depending on new or evolving technical priorities in future,” he said.

It was pointed out that the current priority is to ensure members of the groups are provided trainings they require on a priority basis.

The expert pool will not be placed under DITT or any specific agency. “The idea is to have the members from agencies to participate in whole of government projects and support agencies to participate in whole of government projects and support agencies, help fellow ICT professionals with any technical or project related problems whenever required, relevant to the area of their expertise,” Hemlal Subedi said.

On whether agencies have raised concerns about the vacuum being created when expert pool members have to be deputed to another agency, Hemlal Subedi said that such issues have not been faced yet but arrangements would be made. “It is understood that the members will have priorities serving their own agencies first, so whenever they can they will have the opportunity to help and in the process further develop experience in solving problems,” he said. “There is also  time commitment from each member to fulfill the roles as defined in the terms of reference,” he added.

“The activities will depend on the type of problem, so duration of their engagement on a problem will depend on the type of problem they may face. Besides that the members will also work on developing best practices, processes, guidelines and methodologies in their core areas for all ICT professionals to follow, to help in carrying out their day-to-day ICT activities or projects,” Hemlal Subedi said.

“We can no longer afford to think in silos,” Phuntsho Tobgay said. “We all need to collaborate.”

By Gyalsten K Dorji

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