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Sri Lanka

Enhance the Services of Government Information Center (GIC- 1919) for Inclusive, Transparent, Accountable and Efficient Governance, Using ICT As Enabler (LK0005)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Not Attached

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure

Support Institution(s): Information and Telecommunication Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA); Sarvodaya Fusion, Sri Lanka Telecom

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, Public Participation, Records Management

IRM Review

IRM Report: Sri Lanka End-of-Term Report 2016-2018, Sri Lanka Mid-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Did Not Change

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Bridging the information gap between citizens and government using ICT tools to make the Government more close and open to the citizens through innovative approaches including digital services has become prominent in the recent past across the world. There are many success stories under e-Government initiatives and the citizens’ readiness to access and use these services is very conducive for promoting Open Government Partnership across multiple geographic and demographic settings, and delivers many “quick wins” or “low-hanging fruits”. In addition to Government taking actions to open up its data and processes to the citizens, these ICT platforms could be productively used for bottom up approaches, i.e. the citizen’s feedback to the Government. The current ICT boost of Sri Lanka, especially the high penetration of connectivity, including internet, and the continually increasing ICT/digital literacy has opened new vistas for citizens’ engagement in the governance process. This is further enhanced with high availability of mobile devices and the emergence of various ICT tools/apps to make citizen’s life more convenient. The Government Information Service (GIC – 1919) of Sri Lanka, operates under the Information & Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka completes 10 years of service this year (2016). It is one prominent example of citizen – government – private sector engagement that showcases key characteristics of Open Government: inclusiveness, transparency, accountability and efficient governance. The trilingual call center facility and the associated institutional knowledge bases are key components which has made citizens’ life much convenient when they seek information on government services and related processes. GIC has been also recognized globally, including in the Global Summit for Information Society (WSIS). The OGP initiative is an opportunity for the Ministry of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure and ICTA to enhance it further with the assistance of the Civil Society Organizations, especially Sarvodaya Fusion. Issues to be Addressed: 1.Information on citizen’s services by the government does not reach citizens promptly 2.Lack of strategic approach and leadership to propagate existing GIC infrastructure build upon its achievements during the past 10 years. Main Objective: 1.Increase citizens’ awareness of citizen services through the GIC–Call centre + website + SMS alerts system etc.2.Effectively and efficient use of ICT to provide government information as a part of RTI commitments

IRM End of Term Status Summary

5. Government Information Centre

Commitment Text:

Enhance the services of Government Information Centre (GIC- 1919) for Inclusive, Transparent, accountable and Efficient Governance, using ICT as enabler

[…]

Main Objective:

Improve services and increase awareness of the Government Information Centre (GIC), and leverage ICT as a key enabler in enhancing access to government information.

Milestones:

  • 1 Engage the Divisional Secretariats, Nenasala/Telecentre network to make citizens aware of GIC services and assess their key needs (eg.by “IT Yahamaga” of Sarvodaya Fusion and ICTA’s “Smart Social Circles”). Produce One Survey report for every 6 months, and will be made publicly available.
  • 2 Training of the Chief Innovative Officers (CIOs) of government agencies to develop institutional knowledge bases related to public services 5 sessions, 50 CIOs to be trained in each session, covering all key government organizations (Ministries, Departments, District Secretariats, Provincial Councils and Key Statutory bodies. If required, training could be expanded to Divisional Secretariats and Local Authorities too).
  • 3 Increase the number of institutions covered under the Government Information Centre (GIC – 1919) Call Centre facility from 194 to 250, also diversifying the services offered through the facility – E.g. Tracking status of requests, personalized email feedback, text messages and social media upon subscription (by 2017, at least 2 additional service per institutions to be introduced with the assistance of ICTA.)
  • 4 Enhance the service platform of the GIC (www.gic.gov.lk) along with updating Citizens’ Service Charter Information (produced by each organization in consultation with their internal and external stakeholders to reflect the changes in standard of services) for 10 key services (identified by ICTA using GIC call registries) and SMS facility for citizens.
  • 5 Stocktaking of the improved project with key partners of the Government (MTDI/ICTA/SLT), Trade Union representatives and civil society organizations.

Responsible institution: Ministry of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure (MTDI)

Supporting institutions: Information and Telecommunication Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA); Sarvodaya Fusion

Start date: July 2016............ End date: December 2017

Editorial Note: The text of the commitment was abridged for formatting reasons. For full text

of the commitment, see the Sri Lanka National Action Plan 2016–2018 at http://bit.ly/2wv3jXR.

Commitment Aim:

This commitment aimed to leverage ICT to improve services and increase public awareness of the call centre and website that constitute the Government Information Centre (GIC). [74] Key stakeholders anticipated that, through this commitment, more citizens will have improved access to useful information on a wide range of government activities and services. [75]

Status

Midterm: Limited

The commitment achieved limited completion by the midterm. Led primarily by the Ministry of Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructure (MTDI), notable achievements at the midterm included:

  • Re-establishing the Government Information Centre (GIC) National Steering Committee (Milestone: 5.1);
  • Conducting a training workshop for CIOs at 30 key government institutions (Milestone: 5.2);
  • Increasing coverage of the GIC call centre to 320 institutions (Milestone: 5.3);
  • Enhancing services and facilities available via the GIC, including linkages to social media (Milestone 5.3); and,
  • Soliciting tenders to revamp and improve the GIC website (Milestone: 5.4). [76]

Despite these achievements, all milestones under this commitment were not fully implemented. For instance, the ministry had not conducted a survey to assess citizen needs in terms of GIC services (Milestone 5.1); service upgrades were limited (Milestone 5.3); the service platform had not been revamped (Milestone 5.4); citizens’ service charter information were not updated (Milestone 5.4); and stocktaking of the improved project had not taken place (Milestone 5.5).

For more information, please see the 2016–2017 IRM midterm progress report.

End of term: Limited

Completion of this commitment remained limited by the end of term.

Milestone 5.1: According to the MTDI, the re-established national steering committee served to promote greater citizen awareness of the GIC. Although exact numbers were unsubstantiated, the ministry claimed that training on accessing e-government services through the GIC now reached over 9,000 rural citizens. [77] The Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) further expanded its ‘Smart Social Circle’ network, [78] through which awareness on GIC was further increased. [79] The MTDI did not produce survey reports citing a lack of adequate manpower. [80]

Milestone 5.2: As confirmed by civil society, the MTDI conducted two additional training workshops for CIOs at the national level. [81] This was, however, two short of the targeted five programs proposed under the action plan.

Milestone 5.3: As of May 2018, GIC coverage stood at 320 institutions [82] – indicating no further additions since the midterm.

Milestone 5.4: The government also made limited, but notable, progress in enhancing the GIC service platform. In addition to basic improvements to the GIC website [83] and Facebook page, [84] the MTDI noted that the website now contains information of over 290 government institutions—most of which were introduced since this commitment. The MTDI representative interviewed could not confirm the exact number. [85] Despite these reported improvements, the IRM researcher observes that access to the website was unpredictable, with the site occasionally being ‘down’ or unavailable.

The MTDI conceded that it had not updated Citizens’ Service Charter information on the website. [86]

Milestone 5.5: Although the MTDI conducted regular feedback sessions with the GIC call centre management and the ICTA, these stocktaking sessions did not include participation with trade unions and/or civil society. This was confirmed by a representative of Sarvodaya Fusion, a civil society organisation supporting progress under this commitment. [87]

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Did Not Change

As written, this commitment primarily functions as an e-government initiative with limited relevance to the values of OGP or open government.

The only component of this commitment that may have contributed to improving access to information was the survey on citizen needs vis-à-vis government information. This was, however, not conducted or published. As a result, this commitment did not improve access to information, or open government in general.

However, key stakeholders in government and civil society involved in implementation of the commitment noted that—though of limited relevance to open government—the commitment had broadly contributed to an improvement in governance in general, particularly through an enhanced government information centre. [88]

Carried Forward?

Sri Lanka’s second action plan was not released at the time of this report. As this commitment bears limited relevance to the values of OGP or open government, the IRM researcher recommends that it is not carried forward into the next action plan.

However, in the 2016–2017 IRM midterm progress report, the IRM researcher proposed refining existing milestones. The implementation and publishing of the survey report on citizen needs relative to GIC services stood to enhance access to government-held information. In addition, the researcher also volunteered additional recommendations to enhance the positive impact of this commitment, such as developing a dynamic mobile application, linked to GIC infrastructure.

For more information, please see the 2016–2017 IRM midterm progress report.

[74] “Government Information Centre” (GIC, 2017) http://www.gic.gov.lk.

[75] Waruna Sri-Dhanapala (Ministry of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure), interview by IRM researcher, 16 October 2017 (taken from the multistakeholder interview involving representatives from the Information and Communication Technology Agency, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Sarvodaya Fusion).

[76] Id; Isura Silva (Sarvodaya Fusion), interview by IRM researcher, 11 October 2017.

[77] Waruna Sri-Dhanapala, interview by IRM researcher, 26 September 2018.

[78] “ICTA Signs MoU with FITIS” (Daily News, 29 May 2017) http://bit.ly/2DfaELV.

[79] Sri-Dhanapala, interview.

[80] Id; Isura Silva (Sarvodaya Fusion), interview by IRM researcher, 13 September 2018.

[81] Sri-Dhanapala, interview.

[82] Id.

[83] “Government Information Centre” (GIC, 2017).

[84] “Government Information Centre of Sri Lanka – 1919” (Facebook, 2018) https://www.facebook.com/GovInfo1919/.

[85] Sri-Dhanapala, interview.

[86] Sri-Dhanapala, interview; Silva, interview.

[87] Id.

[88] Id.


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