E-governance bill to digitize government services reintroduced in House

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LEGISLATORS have reintroduced a bill in the House that aims to move most government transactions online after it failed in the previous Congress.

House Bill 3, or the E-Governance Bill of 2022, is largely based on the previously tabled Senate Bill 1738, which was stalled in committee when the 18e Congress over.

“The shift to digital platforms has taken a long time,” Leyte Representative Martin G. Romualdez, who is expected to become the next president, said in a statement accompanying the bill. “The COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated the need for his execution.”

Mr. Romualdez said that the government should respond to the needs of the population instead of increasing its burdens. The digitization of services “is obviously the most effective solution to the government service delivery deficit”.

The proposed measure “aims to establish an integrated, interconnected and interoperable information, resource-sharing and communication network, which will include internal records, a management information system, an information database and portals spanning the whole of national and local government for the delivery of public services,” according to the bill.

The measure will encourage the use of the Internet, intranets and emerging technologies to provide “citizen-centric information and government services”. It also pushes the end of paper-based workflows.

Under the bill, the head of each agency, local government unit or state corporation will be responsible for implementation.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has been designated as the lead implementer of the e-Governance Bill through a Project Management Office organized within a year of entry into force of the law.

If the measure is adopted, the DICT will be responsible for harmonizing and coordinating all plans and initiatives related to information technology “to ensure the sharing of knowledge, information and resources, the creation of databases and links between government agencies, consistent with e-government”. objectives in particular and national objectives in general.

It must establish an integrated government network which will be the main means of sharing resources, information and data on digital platforms in all government offices.

The bill also directs the government to establish and maintain a database of information on all citizens, whether residing here or abroad, and on foreigners entering the country through legal channels. Agencies will have access to this data “for legitimate and valid purposes, subject to data protection law”.

A Philippine Civil Service Directory will also be made available to the public with a list of all government officials, along with their contact details and office location, among other details.

The bill also requires the establishment of a service portal allowing the public to transact online with the agencies. The bill sets time limits for responsible personnel to act or decide on requests or requests. Another portal will be set up for online payments.

If the law is enacted, a Citizen Concern Center will also be set up for the public to report their complaints, grievances or concerns.

The bill also requires the government to provide free internet access to the public, including internet-enabled devices in all barangay centers. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan

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