The Ministry of Interior’s “digital government” working group has been discussing a draft master plan for information and communication technology (ICT) in accordance with the master plan of the national government – called e-government – to modernise public services.
Once the planning is complete it will be submitted to minister Sar Kheng for final approval.
On August 9, the working group held a meeting to discuss the preparations for the creation of a master plan for ICT. The digital government working group was established by the ministry on June 15.
Hor Sam Ath, the ministry’s deputy secretary-general and director of the information technology department, told The Post on August 10 that many other ministries are also working on their respective master plans for this area.
He said the Ministry of Economy and Finance, for example, is also preparing its digital economy master plan, while the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications is planning the e-government master plan. The interior ministry is preparing a digital master plan for providing services to Cambodia’s citizenry.
In order to make each plan compatible with the national government’s master plan, the government sent each ministry guidelines to develop a master plan that is consistent and easy to exchange data between all of them to build a truly digital government infrastructure.
“When we have a clear master plan, it shows a road map which one to start first and which one to start later. This will avoid duplication and repetition,” he said.
He said the draft master plan has been prepared for implementation for the past 5 to 10 years, but it has not become a full master plan yet as it was still under discussion. Once it is finalized, it will be submitted to the leadership for approval.
He added that the government would use its “rectangular strategy” to implement it while taking into consideration the demands of the industrial revolution 4.0, with the goal of erecting three pillars deeply rooted digitally underground – namely, digital government, digital economy and digital people.
Sam Ath explained that the digital people component being worked on by the interior ministry referred to all people knowing how to access and use online services to streamline certain government services. Those who want to get an ID card or a passport would not have to meet with some officials, but rather they can just register at home or at a computer terminal in a commune hall and the processes will become largely automated.
Huy Vannak, interior ministry secretary of state and a member of the digital working group, said the e-government concept is like an extension of the One Window Service Offices, which reduce the waste of resources like paper.
“This will be a networked system connecting with all of the ministries, because all registrations, including trade, tax and bank registrations, use a Cambodian ID card. If we keep Cambodian ID cards on file by photocopying them on paper for institutions, just imagine how much paper that is,” he said.
San Chey, executive director of the NGO Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, said the rate of internet use in Cambodia was still on the rise and increasing significantly year to year, so this will be an opportunity for ministries and national institutions to provide public services and inform the public of their future plans, among many other obvious benefits gained by the government’s use of a networked information system with interlinked databases.
“Some local authorities still do not use much technology or know how to access beneficial information. However, as more people learn how to use it and as the younger generations of Cambodians who are ‘digital natives’ mature into adulthood, the time is right to take the opportunity to expand the provision of public services through modernising our technology and information systems in every commune,” he said.