**e-Government**: The Government of The Bahamas has signed an agreement with the Government of Canada for consulting services relating to the acceleration of e-government throughout the Bahamian public service.

The agreement was signed recently at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Ottawa, Canada and under its terms, the Canadian Government’s Department of Consulting and Audit Canada (CAC) will lead the project. The engagement was approved by the Cabinet Office to advance the establishment of the National Information and Communications Framework.

A release from the Bahamas Information Services indicates that the project will harmonise and update e-government initiatives as well as update the Government’s e-government policy. It will assess a strategy for meeting short-term (one year), mid-term (three years) and long-term (five to ten years) goals.

Mrs. Ruth Millar, Financial Secretary, who signed on behalf of The Bahamas Government, acknowledged Canada’s pre-eminence in e-government services and welcomed the alliance as one that would greatly assist The Bahamas Government in meeting the primary challenge of ensuring that users of its government services, wherever they are located, have equal opportunities to satisfy their needs.

The CAC team visited The Bahamas in April of this year for a preliminary scoping mission, which involved dialogue with various public and private sector stakeholders, including BFSB’s Ebusiness Working Group (EBWG).

**National Information and Communications Framework**

In the 2005-06 Budget Communication presented in Parliament, the Government had foreshadowed the consultancy and the development of an NIC Framework, indicating that this would enable The Bahamas to develop as a nation that maximizes the power, reach, versatility and innovation of information and communications technology.

*”The Framework will provide on-line access to healthcare, education, and government services such as land registration and land use policy, and will be a driving force in developing e-commerce in The Bahamas. Increased levels of e-commerce will enable Bahamian companies to compete in the global marketplace, and the development of a vibrant and entrepreneurial information technology sector will create employment, encourage diversification, and boost investor confidence.”*

Also announced at that time was the release of a National Information and Communications Technology Policy Paper that will be integrated with the Government’s existing Policy Statement on Electronic Commerce and the Bahamian Digital Agenda published by the Ministry of Finance in January, 2003.

The Framework reportedly also envisages the transformation of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) into a state-of-the-art communications leader. The transformation will enhance the current operations of BTC, as well as preparing it for graduation into a privatized entity at the cutting edge of technological development in communications.