**Sen. the Hon. James Smith**

The Bahamas Government Online (BGOL) logo was launched by the Minister of State for Finance this past week, as part of Phase 1 of a three-phase, 5 year e-government initiative. The programme encompasses an information phase, an interactivity phase, and a transaction phase.

Minister Smith pointed to the various advantages of e-government: improvement in efficiency through the use of information technology; improved delivery of government services to the public; improved use of government resources; and reduction in the cost of doing government business *”Above all else, e-government can help to transform the traditional relationship between the public and the government,”* he said. In this connection, the current focus is on the customer and his or her needs.

E-government should allow greater public access to government information while at the same time making the government more accountable to the citizens of the country, according to the Minister. He adds that if the Bahamas government is to remain relevant to its stakeholders then it is imperative that the government modernize its communications techniques by expanding the use of information and communications technology.

Mr. Wayde Watson, Deputy Coordinator for Information Technology at the Ministry, says currently the objective is to provide more information to citizens and residents – and the business community – via the official website of the Bahamas Government. *”If you follow the trend, e-government is handled in stages. Right now we are providing information. In the second phase we look to be a little more interactive, and then hopefully in the third phase, where we are aiming to get, we want to be a little bit more transactional.”* Within 18 months the Ministry hopes to have postal tracking, public access terminals and a labour skills bank.

Reportedly, the Ministry is seeking Cabinet approval to launch an Information Technology Academy at the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute, hopefully by Fall 2006.

**BGOL Objectives**

• To modernize government through the use of information and communication technologies.

• To link Bahamians, businesses, and International clients with essential information and government services on demand.

• To provide one-stop-shop services to local and international business clients.

• To provide faster, reliable, less costly, and more convenient service delivery via the Internet.

• To provide public servants with easier access to information so that they can offer more effective and more efficient help to the public.

• To provide consistent government services through a variety of media, (in-person, telephone, mail, online).

• To improve communication and collaboration between different arms of government for the convenience of clients.

• To improve the e-infrastructure to enable e-commerce and e-business.

• To create a more computer literate society.

In the 2006 Speech from the Throne, the Bahamas Government On-Line (BGOL) Initiative was identified as one of Government’s priorities.