1 December 2003
The State Information and Technology Agency (Sita) is to “recondition” the core IT systems of six government departments by adding new features to old software.
The project, which is aimed at raising the standards of service delivery, has already been implemented on the department of social development’s software, SocPen, which is used to process social grants.
The agency said it planned to follow up on the success of the SocPen project by implementing similar “reverse-engineering” projects in other departments, including transport, home affairs, housing, health, and trade and industry. All these departments interact extensively with citizens.
The agency said it would use data from the various departments’ applications, which described how, when and by whom a particular set of data was collected, to enhance the applications, make them operate as one, and add in Web functionality, in order to deliver interactive e-government services.
Many government systems, including SocPen, have been built using the same database technology, namely Adabas/Natural.
“Most government departments use this, so once we have reverse-engineered SocPen, it will be a lot easier to reverse-engineer others because they are based on the same technology,” said McKay Motshabi, Sita’s general manager for research and development.
The project, said Motshabi, is being run parallel to Sita’s Master Systems Plan (MSP) that is currently being piloted in various government departments as MSP-in-a-Box.
MSP-in-a-Box is aimed at assisting the government to standardise specific hardware and software architectures, as well as upgrade and replicate solutions across different departments.
Motshabi said that in addition to being used within government, the MSP methodology will be given to external consultants to evaluate and assess.
The MSP methodology, according to Motshabi, aims to provide a level of standardisation in terms of evaluating ICT requirements within government and to provide better uniformity and control.
“Until now, different methodologies have been used, depending on the private sector’s preferences or on specific government departments,” he said, adding that the result had been a lack of cohesion and comparable results.
“The aim is therefore to create a standard methodology that can be used by industry and Sita alike, producing output that is evaluated on an equal basis.”
For this reason, Motshabi said, the government would eventually be able to provide services to citizens through a single Web portal or central call centre, providing a single point of access to services for citizens.