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Cipro aims to lead e-govt

The Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office's (Cipro's) e-government efforts will set an example of how a government department can turn around and provide beneficial services to citizens, it says.

Speaking yesterday at the GovTech conference, in Durban, Cipro CIO Michael Twum-Darko said the office will demonstrate true e-government by transforming its processes.

“A lot of the things have been put into place, but the big thing is to account the decision to citizens. There have been so many e-government initiatives in government, including Cipro, and they haven't been effective, they haven't been efficient and our citizens are crying,” he said.

He added that an overhaul of current systems had become necessary. Fraud and corruption had occurred as people had exploited weaknesses in the office's system and created a mess in some areas, he said.

The R153 million enterprise content management project is central to the office's transformation, he said. By February 2011, the office will have introduced a digital signature, digitised the 700 million documents it has in its archive, changed its back office to improve workflow and built a contact centre to increase access to its services, he explained.

A tender for the consolidation and virtualisation of Cipro's infrastructure had been awarded and the office would soon issue a tender for the digitisation of its documents in its move to become a true e-government environment, he said.

Solid governance

Twum-Darko noted solid governance structures had been put in place. Addressing reports that the R153 million ECM tender was awarded fraudulently, he maintained Cipro processes could not be circumvented.

He added the office had several committees and boards in place, and each tender was subject to the entire process. The office had a change review board, project review committee, risk committee, architecture review board, adjudication committee, specifications and audit committee, along with an assurance control board, and any tenders would have go through all these processes.

“Everything is above board and there's no way you can manipulate the process,” he said.

Improving processes

The office is also merging with the Office of Companies and Intellectual Property Enforcement to become a commission, which will be known as the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission. The decision to transform Cipro into a commission was made five years ago as part of the new Companies Act.

Twum-Darko says processes have to be transformed so the office can carry out its mandate and implement legislation that establishes it as a commission.

The commission will operate under a new law with expanded functions and powers. Cipro says all administrative functions will be de-politicised as they will no longer be assigned to the minister of trade and industry. These functions will be placed within the jurisdiction of the commission, while the minister will still handle the appointment of members and the drafting of regulations.


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