Speech for Asia Cloud Computing Association’s Industry Dialogue

Date Posted on November 22, 2016

(Technology in the Philippine Government, Then, Now, and Tomorrow) Sec. Benjamin Diokno Asia Cloud Computing Association’s Industry Dialogue New World Hotel Makati November 22, 2016

Emerging trends on digital transformation play a big role in government’s efforts to promote fiscal responsibility and good governance. The task of assuring fiscal sustainability is one of the greatest challenges of this government. Hence, the present administration will continue to implement a Public Financial Management (PFM) Reform Program intended to improve efficiency, accountability and transparency in public fund use to ensure the direct, immediate, substantial and economical delivery of public services.

A sound PFM system helps decision makers – both oversight agencies and spending agencies – in performing their functions. It helps them channel funds to intended beneficiaries and sends off signals when deviations occur. Most importantly, it helps to inform citizens where public funds are actually being spent.

Within government, there is also a need to put in place an integrated financial management information system. This will provide reliable and accurate information to support operational budgeting, cash programming and management, timely financial reporting and effective enforcement of financial accountability rules and procedures.

Digital Transformation

Organizations , whether government or private , are going digital to be closer to the citizens or customers, closer to the conditions on the ground, and still achieve efficiencies while keeping costs down.

For many organizations, digital transformation would mean that it is necessary to integrate existing resources with online resources to seamlessly enhance operations, enable better customer centricity, and compete better in the market. Digital transformation has had a disruptive effect on the traditional way in which business is done. For instance, in the Philippines, companies gradually experienced a shift in the transactions space.

Companies especially the large firms expect that certain routine transactions with government agencies can be done online like taxes can be paid being through internet banking facilities, and even from self-service kiosks whose machines can be found all over the country.

For government, suppliers, contractors, manufacturers, distributors and consultants, are mandated to register and use the Phil Government Electronic Procurement (PhilGEPS) system in the conduct of procurement of goods, civil works and consulting services. PhilGEPS is the single, centralized electronic portal that serves as the primary and definitive source of information on government procurement.

Suppliers and contractors doing business with the government derive the following gains from using the system: (1) access to government bid opportunities 24 hours a day and 7 days a week; (2) downloading of electronic bid documents; (3) automatic email bid notification of bid postings and supplements; and (4) savings on newspaper costs, transportation and man-hours, among others.

Good procurement is essential to ensure good public services, from buying goods and services that work as they are supposed to, to achieving savings that can be ploughed back into front-line services. The PhilGEPS strives to meet the challenges of contributing to procurement reforms by maintaining a safe and secure Internet-based, open and competitive marketplace for government procurement.

Electronic Services and Cloud Computing
E-commerce will bring the Philippines to an even footing with the rest of the world. It will facilitate business transactions and shorten business cycles. It will bring down inventory and other operating costs. It’s plain to see that it’s not only business that gains, more so, consumers – everyone indeed – stand to gain.

As for content, websites can be put up and maintained by countless firms or even individuals for nominal fees. Business software applications need not even be bought anymore but just rented on the Internet at a minimal cost. With E-Commerce Law, our small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have a fighting chance to compete with the best in the world market.

The E-services provided by government offices drive transparency and openness. At the heart of this transformation is leveraging on the cloud, mobile applications, big data/analytics and social media to better engage with the citizens. In the DBM, the following eServices, hosted using cloud technology, are available for use by the different government agencies:

1. Online Submission of Budget Proposal (OSBP) – This system provides online data entry facility for the agency budgetary proposals of all National Government Agencies.

2. Unified Reporting System (URS) – This system facilitates the online submission of Budget Execution Documents, and Budget and Financial Accountability Reports.

3. Budget Cycle Analytics (BCA) – A web-based Portal with graphical and interactive tools for Business Analytics Questioning, Reporting, Ad Hoc Queries and Dashboards, for in-year and multi-year financial and physical performance and for decision making based on multiple dimensions.

Cloud Computing. Cloud computing technology is a model for enabling convenient on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g. networks, servers, storage, software, applications, storage equipment and services) that can be rapidly positioned and released with minimal management effort or service providers interaction.

Already , government is beginning to get a sense of the power and the potential that this cloud technology platform offer to transform the way people access tools for education, for health care, for public administration.. These are technologies that go beyond cost-efficiencies. They are advances that have a significant positive impact on people’s lives.

Mobile Applications and Social Media

The digital mobile economy has created new challenges for the government. But, many agencies and firms maximize the mobile-phone user-base of the Philippines to create smart applications that will eventually allow citizens to transact directly to avail government and private services wherever they are located.

In the transportation space, taxi booking apps like Grab Taxi and Uber have been a disruptive force in taxi booking services, having grabbed market share from the incumbent taxi operators who used to own the lion’s share of taxi bookings.

Even online shops have taken market share away from the traditional brick and mortar shops, offering competitive prices, enabling purchases made just by tapping on a mobile device, saving the shopper the inconvenience of going from store to store to compare prices.

Social Media, refering to virtual communities and networks designed for social interaction to allow the exchange information and ideas, has also gained increased importance.

Thirty-four (34) million Filipinos are active Facebook users while 106 million are active mobile subscribers. However, a Global Internet metric provider Ookla ranked the Philippines as the second lowest average download speed among 22 Asian countries.

Therefore, Philippine government may need to upgrade and invest more in network infrastructure and services if it wants a greater number of Filipinos to have access to faster and cheaper Internet in the coming years.

Conclusion

With these in mind, the government is continuing to transform business processes, subject to international best practices, to review and reengineer existing budgetary ,cash management and accounting and auditing rules. The end goal is to develop timely, more effective, and more responsive ways of managing, monitoring and reporting on the financial performance of Philippine government.

We will also utilize cyberspace as the primary channel for frontline service to citizens. This will be coupled by the integration of various information systems, leading to provision of OPEN DATA for more transparency in government.

Cloud computing technology will also improve inter-agency collaboration, expedite service delivery and improve budget control due to its measured service. More so, it will allow operational continuity with its broad network access while decreasing spending on legacy infrastructure because of its resource pooling feature.

We also do not forget about enhancing the competencies of government staff to enable them to adapt to modern technology. All of these measures shall ensure a technologically-savvy bureacuracy that is more attuned to the needs of the people, and more efficient and effective in delivering goods and services. It’s about time that we leverage information and communications technology for a smarter government.

Thank you.