Prime Minister, USONA to sign financing agreements

POSTED: 03/11/11 4:49 PM

St. Maarten – Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams, who is responsible for the Ministry of General Affairs, will sign two financing agreements financed by the Dutch funding agency USONA on Friday. One relates to the Integrity project and the other is for an information data interchange system between government departments.

The Council of Ministers approved the highly anticipated project “Integrity Policy St. Maarten” in December 2010 and USONA agreed to fund the project for the amount of nearly 800, 000 guilders in March, 2011. The goal of the Integrity Project is to establish a lasting and integrated integrity policy for St. Maarten.
Friday’s signing sets the stage for the official kick-off of the new Integrity program for Sint Maarten. The Department of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BAK) will coordinate and execute this Integrity Program in collaboration with other government departments. This project is a follow-up of the previous integrity project which focused on integrity awareness and training of civil servants. This created a sound legal base for a future integrity policy for the country.
With the completion of the previous project, key aspects of an integrity policy were addressed; however, a concrete integrated integrity policy was not officially established. The new project will therefore establish a lasting integrated integrity policy.

The project includes a variety of activities such as research, integrity trainings & workshops, communication and the establishment of an Integrity Bureau. Each activity has its own target-group. Although the project will primarily target civil servants and government officials, the entire population of St. Maarten will be addressed. Kingdom partners also form part of the target group, in keeping with agreements made within the Kingdom in relation to Integrity.
Research activities form an important part of the project. To be able to establish a solid integrity policy, it is necessary to analyze the current structure and procedural processes. Also the integrity related rules and regulations will be analyzed. Research into the ethical climate related to commitment and vision is also part of the project.
Target groups will be trained in different aspects of integrity, such as application of the code of conduct and dilemma solving. With regards to so called sensitive functions (“vertrouwensfuncties”), information sessions will be held. Special sessions for the persons of confidence and their ‘back-uppers’ will also take place. Financial policy is often closely related to integrity and so a workshop on these matters will also be organized.

An extensive integrity awareness campaign will be launched with the intention of promoting integrity awareness among the target groups. Different means of communication will be utilized to achieve this goal.
The integrity bureau will serve as the first point for civil servants and the general public to report integrity issues related to government. The agency will act on these reports and may also perform independent investigations. The institution of the Integrity Bureau also includes the development of a confidential digital reporting infrastructure in the form of a website.

A financing agreement will also be signed for the VGO (Versterking Gegevensbeheer Overheid), an information data interchange system between government departments.
During the project a computer system will be designed and put in operation that allows departments to interchange information about customers and products. For example, all relevant departments will receive a message through the VGO system if a new company is established and in the case of an individual who moves from one address to another, the person will only need to do it at the civil registry office which then via the automated system updates the persons address with other relevant government departments.

The VGO project allows for the complete upgrade of the government information management infrastructure and it opens many doors to enhance the services to the public, the business community and governmental bodies. VGO will also act as the so-called back-office for the Public Service Center that will be implemented parallel to the VGO system. The new Public Service Center will be established before the end of this year; VGO is targeted for completion in the summer of 2012.
VGO is funded by the Dutch government through USONA and managed by a team of specialists headed by program managers of BAK. This team is working closely together with the department of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) and all other relevant governmental departments.

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