Downgrading ICT Governance

From being under the Office of the President (OP) and headed by a Chairman with a Cabinet rank , the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) will now be the Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO) under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). The demotion is effected by Executive Order (EO) No. 47 issued by the OP last June 23, 2011. According to the EO, the ICTO shall be headed by an Executive Director, with the rank of an Undersecretary, who shall report directly to the DOST Secretary.

The CICT was created by the issuance of EO No. 269 by then Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2004. The agency was tasked as the “primary policy, planning, coordinating, implementing, regulating, and administrative entity of the executive branch of Government that will promote, develop, and regulate integrated and strategic ICT systems and reliable and cost-efficient communication facilities and services.”

Since its formation, the CICT championed the ICT development in our country and was mainly responsible for assisting local stakeholders from the academe, government, and private sector towards achieving the gains made by the information technology and business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) industry that raised $9 billion in revenues last year, as well as creating 530,000 jobs. The IT-BPO industry predicts that total employment will increase to 1.3 million and revenues to $26 billion by 2016.

The CICT was formed as an interim agency while Congress has yet to enact a law creating a full-pledged Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT). During the last Congress, the bill for the creation of a DICT was already passed by the House of Representatives but failed to get approved in the Senate on its third reading. However, the bills were refiled and currently pending in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Aside from the authors and sponsors of the proposed law creating a line department devoted to ICT governance in the country, the stakeholders in the IT-BPO industry where internet cafes belong criticized the issuance of EO 47 and urged its recall. They are united in saying that the downgrading of ICT governance by way of the EO will not do good in promoting the local IT-BPO industry.

One year ago, I wrote an article about the state of ICT governance in the Philippines when the present administration was very new. While the President insinuated then that ICT does not rate high in his priorities, I never expected him to cause this kind of downgrading the governance of a sunshine industry that would substantially contribute to the nation’s economy.

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