The Department of Transformation and Digitization (DTD) was officially launched by the Government of The Bahamas in November of 2019. It is an initiative to transfer and make all major government services accessible on online platforms, thereby creating a more effective and seamless process for business to be conducted both locally and internationally with our government. Funded by a $30 million loan by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the project will be completed within phases over the course of 6 years. Minister of State for Grand Bahama, Senator the Honorable James Kwasi Thompson was given the portfolio of the digital transformation programme working along with a team of highly qualified IT specialists, accountants, and lawyers to implement the e-government endeavors. The project’s goal is “to foster the competitiveness of The Bahamas by reducing the costs of conducting business with the Government”. In effect, this will remove and reduce the costs of red tape and delays, attract local and international business, contribute to the country’s Gross Domestic Product ( GDP) through the financial service sector, increase the transparency of Government activities, strengthen the auditing and control mechanisms of the government for better governance of the country, and improve The Bahamas’ ranking on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report. Moreover, the day to day operations of the government would be less vulnerable and more resilient to the issues that arise with paper trail, such as the mismanagement and misplacement of documents, and from natural (hurricanes) and happenstance disasters (fires).
What does all of this mean for the public as well as local/ international businesses:
• Access to Government services 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 52 weeks per year wherever there is internet connectivity.
• Access to over 200 government services electronically.
• Access to services through a single window which reduces cost and time in obtaining critical government services.
• No need for individuals to physically appear at government agencies, except to update their e-ID.
• Immediate and accurate responses.
• The ability to hold the government accountable through increased transparency via the freedom of the Information Act.
• Increased confidence for businesses due to greater government transparency and less red tape.
• Security of personal data through a robust data protection act and cybersecurity measures.
• Power of choice as citizens can opt-out of the electronic ID.
• Opportunities to learn/improve and execute digital skills.
• Reduction in the cost and time of registering businesses.
To date, the Department of Transformation and Digitization in conjunction with the Passport Office has made the task of renewing a passport more trouble-free with the introduction of E-Passports. Individuals, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Website, are now able to complete and send in an online passport renewal application, pay online for the renewed passport, and receive an electronic notice of when they can physically retrieve the Passport from the Passport Office. The government further plans to bring this tech accessible approach not only to government services but also to the Cabinet Office as an e-cabinet management system. The e-cabinet is set to facilitate, streamline, and digitize the various operations ran by the Cabinet office. It will incorporate the best of security features, positively influence the delivery of government services; and assist the various ministers, permanent secretaries, etc. with mobile accessibility.