Gov’t implementing eLGU pilot project

The National Computer Center (NCC) is all set for the pilot implementation of its eLGU (electronic local government units) project this July, with the municipality of Taguig chosen as the site of the project’s initial roll-out.

Starting off with the deployment of an Electronic Property Tax System, the municipality of Taguig — eLGU’s pilot site for the National Capital Region – is expected to automate its treasury operations as well as its business registration systems afterward.

“The Real Property Tax Assessment and Billing, the Business Permits and Licensing, and Treasury Operations Management — being revenue generating systems — will be the priority systems for automation. These three functions, foreseen to increase LGU collection efficiency, will take the lead role not only in Taguig but in all other pilot sites for the eLGU project implementation,” NCC director Tess Camba told Computerworld Philippines in an interview.

According to Camba, the municipality of Taguig is actually just one of the many pilot sites for the eLGU project. The NCC, an attached agency of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), has identified 100 local government units (LGU) all over the country where the implementation of the project will be showcased.

e-Governance Program The eLGU project is the key component of DOST’s support program for electronic governance. This initiative aims to give LGUs a headstart in their computerization programs by enabling them to integrate information and communications technology in their operations for better public service.

“The eLGU project seeks to enhance the capabilities of LGUs in information and communications technology to bring about the much-needed change in the local government system and transform them into e-enabled LGUs,” DOST undersecretary and Information Technology and E-Commerce Council (ITECC) co-chair for e-Governance Fortunato dela Pena said.

To do this, the undersecretary said the DOST, through the NCC, will provide eLGU pilot beneficiaries with application systems, software and training for free.

As for the hardware requirements, NCC’s Camba disclosed that the DOST is currently collaborating with the Department of Trade and Industry for a possible grant from the Japanese government.

For the eLGU’s initial roll-out, the DOST is targeting to cover 100 LGU beneficiaries. Over the succeeding years, the agency is planning to complete the project’s deployment in 200 more municipalities to meet its “300-in-3-years” quota. Scheduled to kick off in 2003, the eLGU project aims to assist the e-government implementation of 300 LGUs over a three-year period.

“Since we want to ensure that project beneficiaries will be equally distributed throughout the country, we have decided to allocate equal number of slots in every region. On the average, each region will have about five LGU beneficiaries,” Camba said. As a result, there will be 49 eLGU pilots in Luzon, 25 in the Visayas, and 26 in Mindanao.

Each pilot LGU has been selected based on their response to the E-Governance Readiness Survey which was disseminated among all LGUs last year. The survey scores showed each of the LGUs’ preparedness for e-Governance.

While Taguig is just one of the pilots, it will be the first to actually automate. Unlike most LGUs, Taguig has gone pass the data conversion stage – the primary step in automation. This has given the NCR pilot a headstart in computerization compared to its counterparts, which are practically starting from “scratch” and are still encoding paper-based records into desktop files.

According to Camba, the municipality of Taguig already has an existing DOS-based database, which the NCC is planning to “migrate” to another system once its open-source software engine is completed.

“We have actually outsourced the application development part — particularly for the Electronic Property Tax System — to a third-party developer called K2ia. Once validated, this system will be used not only in Taguig but in other sites as well,” said Camba. A proponent of open source, the NCC director said the new application will be solidly built using open source technology.