As the CIO for the Government of the Northwest Territories, Roger Renaud faces challenges that make him unique among his peers.
With just 42,000 residents in 33 communities scattered over a 1.2 million sq. km area, Renaud says his government is not yet in a position to focus on delivering information and services to citizens in an electronic format.
“We’re not focused on e-government,” he said. “We don’t have last mile connectivity into the smaller communities in the Northwest Territories. As a result, the residents in all but eight of our larger communities don’t have access to the Internet from their homes or businesses without paying long distance charges. That means we don’t have a delivery mechanism to deliver online government services.”
While Renaud estimates that the territory is two to three years away from the proper infrastructure to offer a full menu of online services, the government is running a few applications.
“But with such a small population, it makes it difficult in the information technology area to have enough funds to develop the large systems and services that a territorial government has to deliver,” he said. “There’s just not the revenue base to be able to build the systems you need.”
However, Renaud notes that the territorial government is proactive about getting the proper infrastructure in place.
“The senior management of the government – the deputy ministers in charge of the departments – are really engaged in the areas of information systems and information technology,” he said. “Their support is proving to be extremely valuable.”