It is all over the news. The Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations of the Netherlands, minister Plasterk, pulled the plug from what now can be called a disaster project.
For years the Government of the Netherlands was working on modernizing their Central Registration for Persons (Basisregistratie voor Personen) with the aim of upgrading their automated processes and realizing real-time updates of personal data instead of the current once a day update. After enormous delays and € 90 million already down the drain, the minister concluded that the project cannot continue like this and pulled the plug.
While the Netherlands tried to get their already automated processes of central registration of persons to update instantly, we on the other side of the sea in the Caribbean are confronted with processes and systems that are still being done manually. This of course varies per country and doesn’t necessarily apply to the registration of persons, but in general we still see that governments lack intelligent automated systems that support their processes.
The reality on our islands is that
we still need to provide our personal data
for each type of interaction.
The reality on our islands is that we still need to provide our personal data for each type of interaction we have with every type of government agency. This leads to situations where we are registered differently in multiple places, which results in data corruption. Moreover, when our personal information changes, we are required to change this in multiple places and most of the time we still have to do this in person. I, for example, have been registered under a couple of variations of my name. From Shadyra A.J. Francisca to S.A.J. Francisca; S. Francisca; Shadyra Francisca; Francisca Shadyra; Shadira Fransiska, etc. And imagine this for a population of 15.000 with many different fields of information, such as address and date of birth.
When I visit these countries and I sit with the civil servants and I hear about their bottlenecks, it is so recognizable. I understand their pain but at the same time I also get excited. I get excited because I know that it can be solved. Showing them how technology can support them nowadays is so fulfilling.
Not only does it improve the services to the public,
but it also increases the sharing of data
and eventually the overall compliance.
The best part is that moving from manual processes to (fully) automated processes is something that doesn’t have to take very long. Think about what it is that you want to achieve. What is your level of ambition? A best practice is to start for example by eliminating the most common errors by using data mapping. This is an essential part of going digital.
But it remains a process that needs to be done diligently and thoughtful. And I love to take that journey together with the client because, once it is done, it will give so much joy. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than discovering every time how much my clients have gained from the transformation: the correctness of data, the efficiency, the newfound flexibility in the job. Not only does it improve the services to the public, but it also increases the sharing of data and eventually the overall compliance.
Ninety million euros. Wouldn’t it be nice if the governments in the Dutch and Eastern Caribbean had just a fraction, say 5 percent, of the loss of the Netherlands at their disposal? They would be able to fully digitalize their public services, not only internally but also to the public by offering them online services. Instead of going to 5 different agencies filling out 5 different forms with similar data requests, you can now provide one agency with the data and it will be available to other agencies. Ok, admittedly, not in real-time but in near real-time. Imagine that for less than 5 percent of the € 90 million.