The ‘National Policy Framework’ of Sri Lanka, under its three main pillars of Digital Government, Digital Economy and Digital Services has laid the foundation to transform the country towards a technology based society. The transformation to achieve its intended goals and outcomes needs proper guidance and direction through which the government can systematically leverage technologies to improve public services, enhance transparency and accountability, and also promote economic growth. ICTA Policy Division provides the direction and guidance needed by the government in its ‘Digital Transformation’ journey through laying-out a solid policy framework enabling the transformation to happen in a smoother and proper manner.
The Policy Division functions as a cross-cutting layer collaborating with all three key pillars at ICTA providing policy direction to diverse areas with a national importance. The main focus of the division is creating a conducive environment for ICTA to achieve its objectives in facilitating the ‘Digital Transformation’ across the government. Its goal is to create a proactive policy environment that is supportive of the ICT transformation and ICT-based development, progression of ICT leadership and capacity, and dissemination of such national policy initiatives to a wider reach.
ICTA policy division takes all efforts to bridge the gaps in society to create connected communities, satisfied and informed citizens, technology savvy future generation, an efficient and productive government service delivery and a contented society at large.
In its efforts, ICTA policy division has been working on the following key policy areas during the recent past. As this list is not conclusive, it will continue to evolve as the transformation is.
The policy stands as the principal policy from which the remaining policies come to life. Its prime focus is the empowerment of citizens, businesses and the society at large through devising a digitally enabled governance structure. The policy directs the government to achieve results whilst building connected communities with the use of technology and introduces the following six principles which collectively promote the greater achievement of innovation, inclusiveness, collaboration, law and order, efficiency, accuracy and responsibility within the governance framework of the country.
The policy is a collaborative effort of the Ministry of Education and ICTA which aims to introduce policy directives that facilitate students, teaching staff as well as administrative staff of all three sectors (i.e. schools, universities and vocational training institutes) of the education ecosystem with required skills and knowledge to effectively utilize technology in order to enjoy its benefits to cope with social and professional realities of the 21st century. It is the outcome of the opinions, views and ideas expressed during a series of workshops organized by ICTA in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, industry experts, academia, and other related stakeholder parties. The policy is approved by the Ministry of Education and at the verge of getting published.
The government e-mail policy, is a sub-component of the digital government/governance policy, which is developed upon government’s recognition of the use of e-mail as the main communication medium to correspond with citizens and businesses. It encourages all government officers to use e-mail in order to timely, effectively and efficiently maintain their communication process to offer a better service delivery. ICTA was able to enhance the policy content through the input and feedback provided by the World Bank and other related donor agencies in its steering committee stage. The policy, which is in its final stage, articulates the framework for the implementation and usage of e-mail facility, recognizing ICTA as the implementation agency on behalf of the government.
The policy is developed to recognize the importance of information assets owned by the government organizations and classify them in a proper manner, categorizing them depending on their significance and sensitivity. It supports the Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability (CIA) principles of Information Security and also provides a guideline to data sharing and data accessibility. The policy is now in its final stage.
Digital Signatures Policy is a key milestone in ICTA policy roadmap, which is already being approved and recognized by the government for implementation. The policy aims to direct the government staff towards the adoption of a digital signature to authenticate official documents. The effective usage of digital signatures would eliminate the issues in manual signature usage as it is more secure and trustworthy in terms of sensitivity and security of government data and documents. The policy addresses an important transformation which facilitates and strengthens government’s digital roadmap at large.
Government Cloud Policy, one of the two recent exercises initiated by the team which is in its draft stage undergoing technical review, discusses the importance and necessity of shifting from traditional data storage mechanisms to more secure and robust ways whilst ensuring data security. The policy recognizes ‘Cloud Computing Storage’ as the most suitable and secure mechanism for the government organizations to continue with data storage; eliminating inefficiencies, risks, delays and time/cost factors associated with manual data storage methods. It necessitates the government organizations to obtain the optimal use of emerging technological advancements to facilitate an efficient and effective service delivery.
Digital Document Management Policy, another recent exercise initiated by the policy team is still in its draft stage. The policy encourages and directs government organizations to shift from the traditional paper document culture and transform towards digital document management to achieve greater efficiency, productivity, accountability, interoperability and more importantly citizen’s expectations. It provides the government organizations with an approach on how electronic records are created, maintained, disseminated and destroyed in a more consistent manner.
Policy is an essential component in ‘Digital Transformation’ which ensures that the benefits of digital technologies are realized while mitigating potential negative impacts. It encourages adoption, ensures standards and regulations, promotes innovation, addresses challenges, and facilitates collaboration which drives the country towards the anticipated transformational set-up.