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Saturday, December 29, 2018

Incoming U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Considers Tech Shakeup - Government Technology

(TNS) — The U.S. Virgin Islands' incoming Bryan-Roach administration will be evaluating technology alongside other issues, the transition team’s spokesman said.

Specifically, officials are examining government agency websites — currently a patchwork of government and privately managed domains — and weighing whether to bring them under the sole management of the Bureau of Information Technology, said transition spokesman Richard Motta.

“We’re hoping for some specific recommendations in the transition reports, but I know that with respect to some of those websites, we’re looking to get information with who the existing vendors are, or perhaps even establish our own vendors,” he said.

While none of the 10 listed teams in the transition have technology as its main focus, Motta said recommendations — including those related to technology — will be considered by each team.

The goal is to avoid situations — including those described by Gov. Kenneth Mapp in discussions about the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency website — where the government ends up relying on a website owned by a private company, Motta said. Officials also hope to avoid a situation where vendors are changed at the whims of an incoming administration, he said.

“Those are some of the inefficiencies we are trying to avoid,” he said.

Some of the domains in existence are intellectual property of web developers, while a growing list of agency websites is managed by the V.I. Bureau of Information Technology.

About 85 percent of a list of government agencies on the Government House website have accessible websites.

That’s up from the immediate aftermath of the 2017 hurricanes, when more than half of government agency websites weren’t functioning.

However, the Government House list omits some agencies with working websites: notably the Police Department, Property and Procurement Department, and the Bureau of Economic Research.

One agency, the V.I. Agriculture Department, has two functioning websites: www.vifresh.com, which dates to the deJongh administration and contains outdated information, and doa.vi.gov, which is under review, according to the Bureau of Information Technology website.

Other agencies — Fire Service and the Veterans Affairs Office — maintain active Facebook pages in place of websites.

The Office of Collective Bargaining website redirects to an abstract artwork.

Some agencies have operating websites, but critical features for those websites are bug-prone.

The Property and Procurement website requires a login to access a database of contracts, government project advertisements and other documents, but also requires users to request a new password for each login, and has for months.

VITEMA has a working website, after going without for more than a year, including during the cataclysmic 2017 Atlantic hurricane season.

One key feature of that website is the agency’s web blotter, which automates the process of bulk reporting police incidents to the public. The St. Croix web blotter had worked since its restoration earlier this year. The St. Thomas-St. John web blotter began working Thursday without public notice. However, on Tuesday, the St. Croix section of the website was not working.

The Bureau of Information Technology — sometimes referred to as the government’s Internet service provider — has worked to add agency websites to its roster, though it’s website, bit.vi.gov, doesn’t appear on the Government House list.

A list available on the bureau’s website lists a number of agency websites completed or under construction, including the Sports Parks and Recreation Department, the Bureau of Corrections and Veterans Affairs

Angelo Riddick, the director of the Bureau of Information Technology, said the agency is still working to restore some agency websites following the 2017 hurricanes.

“The ones that we maintain, we are essentially bringing most of them back up to speed,” he said.

The bureau’s role is primarily about creating consistency among the various web sites, while leaving content responsibilities up to the individual agencies, Riddick said.

Riddick — who said he was uncertain about his future in the director role — supports the idea of consolidated control.

“It sounds like a good idea,” he said.

©2018 The Virgin Islands Daily News (St. Thomas, VIR). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



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