To Establish a Contact Centre to Address the Needs of National Scholars (Local and International) of Trinidad and Tobago (TT0005)
Action Plan: Not Attached
Action Plan Cycle: 2014
Lead Institution: Ministry of Public Administration
Support Institution(s): iGovTT / Government Human Resource Services Company (GHRS), User / Citizens Panels
Provide a virtual call centre for delivery of services to national scholars and their associates.
IRM End of Term Status Summary
1.5 Establish a Contact Centre to Address needs of National Scholars
Commitment Text: Provide a virtual call centre for delivery of services to national scholars and their associates.
1. Development of virtual call centre policies and processes
2. Development of proposal
3. Delivery of terms of reference for the establishment of a virtual call centre
4. Establishment of a project steering committee
1. Procurement of ICT solution/selection of vendor
2. Recruitment of staff (CSAs, administrators, supervisors, managers)
3. Implementation of solution
4. Outfitting of call centre
5. Launch of Scholarships and Advanced Training Division website
Responsible Institution: Ministry of Public Administration and Communications (MPAC)
Supporting Institutions: The National Information and Communication Technology Company (iGovTT), Government Human Resource Services Company (GHRS), user and citizen panels
Start Date: August 2014 ............. End Date: July 2015
This commitment seeks to increase access to information for national scholarship awardees using an online platform and virtual call centre. Scholarship awardees face major challenges accessing information on the status of their scholarships and related matters, especially while abroad. This e-government initiative fits into the broader framework of the TTDS. The Scholarships and Advanced Training Division (SATD) achieved TTDS certification in 2014.
Public officials report that the Trinidad and Tobago cabinet approved funding for a virtual call centre.
The government did not provide verification documents regarding development of call centre policies and processes, or the award of a contract. However, an online search revealed a virtual portal for the contact centre.[Note 12: Scholarship and Advanced Training Division, “Contact us,” http://www.scholarships.gov.tt/home/index.php/contact-us. This site has been upgraded to include a contact link.] Interviewed public officials stated that the contact centre will initially serve scholars via phone and email, and the IRM researcher verified this claim.[Note 13: Scholarship and Advanced Training Division, “Service Charter,” Ministry of Public Administration and Communications, February 2014, http://www.scholarships.gov.tt/home/images/docs/resources/Service_CharterSATD_March_2014.pdf. ]
However, the progress of the phone and email effort could not be verified; therefore, the completion of this commitment was unclear. No further evidence was provided on the establishment of user panels,[Note 14: Public Service of Trinidad and Tobago, How to Produce and Use Charters for Public Services: A Practical Handbook for Ministries and Agencies (draft report, 18 May 2012), 16, http://www.mpac.gov.tt/diamond/content/service-improvement%5D which the IRM researcher believes could improve citizen validation of this commitment. For further information, please see the midterm IRM evaluation report.[Note 15: Open Government Partnerships, Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM): Trinidad and Tobago progress report 2014–2015, http://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/TrinidadTobago_14-15_Final_0.pdf. ]
End of term: Limited
According to the public officials interviewed,[Note 16: Interviews were conducted with two public officials at the Ministry of Public Administration and Communications.] this commitment’s implementation has stalled. There has been no further progress since the midterm IRM progress report. The government reported that Milestones 1 to 5 were implemented, but it provided no verification documents. Therefore, the progress is coded as limited. The SATD applied for TTDS certification. It did not achieve certification, but it was highly commended (which is one tier down from certification). Public officials did not provide any further reason for why it did not achieve certification.
Interviews revealed that staffing for this commitment is being explored. However, the effort suffered a major setback after the ministry responsible for this commitment changed. The MPAC initially held the portfolio for SATD. A change in government administration shifted this division to the Ministry of Education. Public officials stated that a prospective vendor is willing to operate the call centre, but no decision has been made regarding operation.
Did it open government?
Access to information: Did not change
In 2015, 443 scholarships were awarded, but citizens and potential national scholars have challenges accessing scholarship information.[Note 17: “443 National Scholarships Winners Announced,” Trinidad and Tobago Newsday, 17 October 2015, http://newsday.co.tt/news/0,218603.html. ] This commitment seeks to increase citizen access to scholarship-related information through the SATD website by including an interactive portal for citizens. The IRM progress report deemed this commitment as having a minor potential impact. It will provide an initial platform for information-sharing, which in turn can increase transparency, but deeper and more pressing issues present themselves in the lack of transparency in the scholarship awarding. (See the IRM midterm report.[Note 18: Open Government Partnerships, Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM): Trinidad and Tobago progress report 2014–2015, http://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/TrinidadTobago_14-15_Final_0.pdf. ]) While this commitment has the potential to increase information-sharing, it failed to achieve this due to limited implementation. The IRM researcher concluded that this commitment did not change government openness, nor did it enhance access to information mechanisms or the quality of government data communicated to citizens.
During interviews, CSOs expressed the need for greater transparency in awarding scholarships but gave no specific feedback on the implementation of this commitment.[Note 19: Interviews were conducted with various civil society organisations from 15 September to 24 September 2016.] It is also important to note that while CSOs are interested in this and other public service improvement commitments, they lack the capacity to fully understand this commitment without government engagement.
At the writing of this report, the government did not begin consultation to develop the next action plan.
This commitment should be retained, given the level of importance citizens and scholarship awardees have placed on access to relevant and timely information. In addition, this commitment should be modified to include a public feedback mechanism—like the user panels in the TTDS certification process—and a mechanism that will increase government transparency in the awarding of scholarships. For example, the government could release data on the scores of awardees or criteria for scoring to qualify for scholarships.
To complete this commitment, the government must invest in the necessary human resources to staff the centre and launch the website. The IRM researcher notes that Trinidad and Tobago is currently in a recession and that this negatively impacts staff recruitment.
Trinidad and Tobago's Commitments
To Certify Public Agencies’ Service Quality
TT0001, 2014, Capacity Building
To Develop Human Resources Management Capacity in the Public Service
TT0002, 2014, Capacity Building
To Conduct a Pilot Project for the Development and Introduction of a “Easier Life for Citizens” Index
TT0003, 2014, Public Service Delivery
To Develop Interactive Media on Government Business Processes and Programs to Better Access Government Services
TT0004, 2014, Public Service Delivery
To Establish a Contact Centre to Address the Needs of National Scholars (Local and International) of Trinidad and Tobago
TT0005, 2014, Education
To Adopt a Policy on Data Standards and Classification Frameworks
TT0006, 2014, Open Data
To Increase the Number of Publicly Accessible Government Datasets in Open Formats
TT0007, 2014, Open Data
To Conduct a Diagnostic Review of Public Information Needs
TT0008, 2014, Open Data
To Create an Easily Accessible Open Government Portal , with a Platform/Repository for Open Data, as Well as an Interface to Allow for Feedback from the Public
TT0009, 2014, Open Data
To Create a Civil Society Board
TT0010, 2014, Public Participation
To Audit the Accounts of the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs to International Standards
TT0011, 2014, Audits and Controls
To Make Publicly Available the Cadastre of Licenses and Contracts for the Exploration and Production of Oil and Gas in Trinidad and Tobago
TT0012, 2014, E-Government
To Include the Mineral Sector (Starting with National Quarries Company Ltd) in the TTEITI Reporting Mechanism
TT0013, 2014, E-Government