KUALA LUMPUR, June 13 — The government is attempting to consolidate its information technology systems such as government databases and websites, according to Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli.
Rafizi said the way the government has developed these is not sustainable as it is currently costing roughly RM7 billion yearly to maintain them.
“Perhaps it doesn’t strike as a significant development in the public (eye), but we did pull off a decision on (creating) a centralised database for the government,” he said at a Malaysia Venture Capital Management Bhd (MAVCAP) event at Ilham Tower, Jalan Binjai here.
“Do you know how many databases that we have to put together to come up with one that is centralised? 297,” he said.
Rafizi added that during negotiations, the officials in government ministries and agencies have shown acceptance towards this approach.
For digital industry players and investors, Rafizi said that he would be having a meeting with some 20 government agencies on June 23, to discuss creating a “single window” for those needing to engage in government services in that industry.
Rafizi added that his personal opinion was that the government should move away from providing procurement contracts to private sector tech companies in a bid to develop the local digital ecosystem.
He said that having private companies that are focused on getting government contracts and procurement is counterproductive to the goals of having innovation and developing good products.
“Some of the vendors that we have, manning government systems, have UI (user interfaces) and UX (user experiences) about 15 years behind.
“There’s not even a discipline to continuously update the UI/UX,” he said.
Rafizi said this was because some vendors were mainly interested in getting paid, and were fine with meeting the minimum requirement outlined in their contracts even if the product falls short of other standards.
He added the government would still open up its operations to the private sector, but with a larger focus on frontend systems, specifically application programming interfaces (APIs).
He said the government’s move to centralise its backend systems would reduce its reliance on private sector companies for developing complete systems.
He termed this approach of having fewer private sector companies involved in government IT systems as a “GovTech” — government technology — approach.