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EXCLUSIVE – Managing Sabah State IT Department’s 5-Year Strategic Plan and tackling the challenges of emerging technologies

With more than 3 decades of experience in the IT field spanning across consultation, planning, procurement, network, R & D of application systems and IT roles, Dr. Mingu Jumaan is CIO and Director of the Sabah State IT Department. OpenGov spent some time with Dr. Jumaan to learn more about Sabah State IT Department’s 5-Year Strategic Plan, ongoing ICT initatives and more.

Could you tell us about your role as CIO of the Sabah State IT Department?

Generally and being the Director of JPKN, I provide leadership and play the role as key contributor to formulating strategic organisational goals, in particular the Department’s Strategic Plan 2016-2020 which defines the Department’s direction on allocating its resources to pursue this strategic plan in fulfilling the Department’s vision and mission towards the year 2020 as embedded within the Strategic Plan. 

In a holistic perspective, the 5-year Strategic Plan encompasses the following areas:

i) Further transformation of the State Government administration and service delivery systems 

ii) Strengthening State Public Sector ICT Delivery Systems, Governance, Infrastructure and Security, 

iii) State Public Sector ICT Acculturation and Commercialisation of ICT Products and Services and 

iv) Human Capital Enhancement

Sabah has over 200 government websites. How do you work with the different government departments in terms of IT and website support?

The mammoth task of providing support for these government websites has been jointly managed by this Department and Sabah Net Sdn Bhd (SNSB), a Government Linked Company whereby these websites are hosted at servers housed, administered and maintained at SNSB’s premise.  Whereas, JPKN provides various platforms to coordinate the developments and maintenance of these websites centrally through the Multimedia Services Division, JPKN by amongst others, providing website development and maintenance best practices, website development training needs and highlighting webmasters’ issues and challenges in the periodic State ICT Technical Committee Meeting in which Director of JPKN is the Chairman, and Sabah State CIO Meeting in which JPKN is the Secretariat and attended by all the State Government Agencies’ CIOs.

What are some of the current projects/initiatives that your department is working on?

Three of the more significant and high impact initiatives the Department is working on are the State Public Sector Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) implementation,  the Budgeting and Allocation Management System (Sistem Pengurusan Peruntukan dan Pembayaran (S3P)), and holistic conversion of the State Accounting Management System. Beside that, there are a number of initiatives on the development of specialised application systems for the State Government agencies.

Could you share with us Sabah State’s ICT strategies? In which areas or projects do you work with MAMPU?

This Department is responsible for providing ICT services specifically to the Sabah State Government Agencies guided by the Department’s Strategic Plan as mentioned above which is in essence, part and parcel of the overall Sabah State ICT Strategies or rather The Sabah State ICT Blueprint 2011 which is under the purview of the State IT Advancement Division of the Ministry of Resource Development and IT. For detailed information, you may read from their website.

Over the years, we have been working with MAMPU in ICT related policy implementation and enforcement coordination besides jointly organising the annual State level ICT Seminar. Other areas include the State Government Agencies Star Rating appraisal and MyMeeting implementation.

How is data being stored and managed by the various government agencies? How is data being analysed or processed to provide insights which could be used to provide better e-services for the citizens?

The State Government provides centrally managed data storage facilities to all State Government Agencies and Government Linked Companies at the State Government Data Centre (PDKN) which is ISMS ISO/IEC27001:2013 certified.  Thus, the data stored therein is professionally managed in compliance with ISMS ISO/IEC27001:2013 control requirements. 

         Delivering e-services to citizens is at the heart of what most government agencies do. Tasks like paying water bills, land cess, and applying Government scholarship are often the most tangible interactions citizens have with their government. E-Services are therefore critical in shaping trust in and perceptions of the public sector.  One way Government can provide better e-services to the citizens is by combining customer-satisfaction feedback information with operational data for example, call-center volumes and number of in-person visits, which can yield additional insights.  Another way is by identifying break points—the point at which delays or service shortfalls cause customer satisfaction to drop significantly.                              

In addition, this Department had also implemented the Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) system whereby network access traffic/behaviour data on some of the Government critical computer devices are logged, analysed and generated as useful output that allows near real-time analysis which enables our security personnel to take defensive actions more quickly as soon as anomalous events are identified.  This is another way to ensure that citizens are able to use the e-services provided in a more secured environment.

Public-private partnerships (PPPs) are getting more common these days with ICT-led projects and developments. What are your thoughts on PPPs and how has it benefitted Sabah State?

The last few decades have witnessed the application of PPPs within the implementation of e-government services in the country. The maturing of ICT has enabled public organisations to work together with ICT partners in the private sector in providing e-services to citizens, which complements the traditional mode of delivering these services by governments to their stakeholders. The e-government applications require new business processes and also collaboration across different government entities. In addition, governments today are moving towards results and performance oriented measurement. Therefore, given the vast experience in dealing with e-business and e-commerce, private partners can help governments deliver better services to their citizens. 

In Sabah, JPKN has embarked on PPPs for the past couple of years.  The outcomes and benefits have been profound and evident in many ways which have, in some cases, resulted in cost-saving besides opening up tremendous service delivery transformation and revenue generation opportunities to the State Government.

What are some of the challenges you face in your role as CIO and how do you overcome them?

Notwithstanding the role I play as mentioned in Question 1 above, and on top of being an inspirer in the organisation, I have to face the day-to-day challenges which I will share with you as follows:

I see employee commitment as the biggest challenge as it takes time and determination for all employees to internalise the share purpose and values that underlie the Department’s culture, identity, foundation and existence.  This is the very reason why I have incorporated the Human Capital Enhancement element as the foundation for the other strategies that altogether made up our organisational Strategic Plan 2016-2020.

Some of the other challenges I have to tackle are associated with Information Security, Cloud and IoT Computing.  Information Security is surely on top of my technology challenges as it is my responsibilities as Sabah State Chief ICT Security Officer to ensure that the State Public Sector keeps up with the evolving global and local information security landscape and at the same time State Government ICT assets are adequately protected from security vulnerabilities.

Cloud Computing is another area I am concerned about as data storage, application systems and other computing capabilities are increasingly shared across the cloud thereby posing new challenges in terms of security and privacy, interoperability and portability, reliability and availability, performance as well as bandwidth issues.

         Finally, IoT is everywhere and will sure become the main computing agenda as devices of every kind are rapidly changing the computing landscape.  As CIO, I have to recognise and face this gigantic challenge as the impact of IoT have yet to be fully ascertained.As always, there is no quick fix to all the challenges I have mentioned because overcoming them is indeed a process itself which will definitely demand a change of mindset and commitment both in human and technology aspects.  However, I believe the technological solutions are already out there waiting to be harnessed.  Unlike in the case of human, considerable amount of time and resources are needed to create a real change in employees’ mindset and attitudes which are undoubtedly remain the very cornerstone to overcome many of the challenges we face together.                               

Dr. Mingu Jumaan is an invited speaker at the upcoming Indonesia OpenGov Leadership Forum held in Jakarta on March 22, 2017.

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