From time to time government reviews its information dissemination capacities with a view to improving service delivery responses as carried out in various sectors. Against this background, the Government Citizen Interaction Centre (GCIC), has been iniatiated to strengthen the coordination of information with a view to capturing citizen participation and, in the process, delivering on outcomes.
The EagleOnline interviewed Morrison Rwakakamba, the newly appointed Director of the GCIC, and below are excerpts.
I suppose congratulations are in order; a ‘Christmas Gift’ come early of sorts?
Thank you. Thank you so much. You see, I don’t look at this position as a ‘gift’ but rather as an opportunity that comes along with service offering to bring citizens and government in direct contact – and thus expand transparency and openness in government and put citizens at the center of monitoring how government services are doing. It will therefore, be a busy Christmas – besides family and faith obligations, I will be putting teams together, figuring out stuff – and consulting with and listening to citizens on effective ways to engage government and making things happen. Thanks again for best wishes.
Is your new appointment a promotion or demotion, given that you have been a Presidential Assistant, appointed by the Big Man himself? Anyway, is your new job station an appointment by the President?
I consider myself a public-spirited person. I am therefore comfortable with any opportunity availed to serve the public good. I am usually not bothered by kilograms that particular positions weigh. I therefore don’t look at this in terms of promotion or demotion. It’s just a call to public service. But for purposes of clarity, the President seconded me to head GCIC as an additional role to the work I have been doing in his office. I am therefore, holding the GCIC position on secondment of the President of the Republic of Uganda.
Is this job provided for under the normal Public Service structures; is it a cross transfer from one government institution to the other?
GCIC is in interim running as a program superintended over by the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance. GCIC’s mandate and functionality supports communication structures of government and is not in contradiction with relevant Public Service regulations and standard operating procedures.
What does the job entail; i.e. scope of work, when to carry out the work and how to carry out the work?
Certainly, we all agree that, timely, cost-effective and data driven communication between Government and Citizens is a critical aspect in service delivery, ideas generation, innovations and citizens participating in their governance. How then will GCIC deliver on this? Pointedly, GCIC will primarily aggregate data from MDAs and transform it into crisp, simplified, visualized and analyzed information – and channel it to responsible dissemination/ communication centers of government. GCIC shall have a dedicated team of data miners to specifically deal with breakdown of for example budget allocations and releases up to sub county level. We want people to follow their money, know and monitor what’s going on. We strongly believe this will result into effectiveness of public policy performance by enhancing monitoring of service delivery and provision of real time channel for feedback, suggestions and action from citizens. Therefore, our scope is broad and only supportive. We believe it’s surmountable – and we shall measure our success on verifiable indicators that show that citizens are enjoying better and efficient services from government. It is as bold as that.
So, is there any relationship between your job and that of the Government’s Media Centre?
There will be a strong complementary relationship with Government Media Center. In fact, besides the President and Minister of ICT& National Guidance, the Executive Director of the Government Media Center was part of the GCIC Conceptualization. GCIC is well located within ecosystem of Government data and outreach function. GCIC shall provide analyzed and visualized data to all MDA’s spokespersons, government communication agencies like Media Center and myriad Internet based platforms. GCIC’s analyzed and packaged data will feed web portals of MDA’s and other media platforms (blogs, social media sites etc.). To effectively execute this function, GCIC shall primarily work closely with Office of the President, Office of Prime Minister, Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MFPED), Uganda National Bureau of Statistics and other Agencies of Government.
The issue of streamlining government communications seems to be an evolving problem; won’t your appointment further complicate the situation by causing multiple duplications arising out of different ‘reporting centres’?
Need to streamline Government Communications is partly why GCIC was created. It was out of realization that there was no centralized place to aggregate government performance data and transform it into messages that feed government and other platforms to keep citizens updated about what’s going on. Even when Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA’s) websites were built, most of them largely remain with limited updated information communicating government messages. GCIC will supportively work with Government Communication staffers to change this.
Second, there was no central and direct platform for citizens to constantly share their views about what they want and need, what they like and dislike, and their overall expectation from Government. Listening to the people by Government will therefore yield better and effective delivery of services to citizens, tweaking of policies to comply with needs of citizenry and will create more transparency and accountability.
Therefore, in order to harmonize government communication and increase contact with citizens, H.E the President directed the Hon. Minister for ICT and National Guidance to set up a Government Call Centre and other information technology (IT) propelled facilities that have capability to harness data and information to promote citizen’s communications with Government. This again, is why the Government Citizen Interaction Centre (GCIC) was initiated.
Anyhow, has the government abandoned the idea of Barazas, which involves the interaction between communities and the various public servants with varying degrees of internalizing and interpreting the themes of debate, and instead settled for the centralization of the function under only one man and his ‘small’ team?
Government never abandoned Barazas. At Sub county level, Braraza’s are happening. The office of the Prime Minister is keen on Barazas and continues to support them. You may recall that, in his inaugural dialogue with stakeholders, the Minister of ICT & National Guidance, Hon. Frank Tumwebaze articulated that the Ministry shall conduct syndicated open government sessions featuring Ministry-by-Ministry to engage the media aimed at securing citizen buy-in in policy formulation, execution and monitoring. This is expected to expand compliance in regard to service delivery targets by agencies of government. People will hear quite often what the government is doing. GCIC will be backstopping these processes and actions to reach and get more citizens engaged.
What are the probable budgetary implications that might arise as a result of your new appointment?
Budgets and set up of requisite technology are handled by Ministry of ICT through its agency NITA-U. I am focused on putting together a team to get things done.
What are some of the urgent roles you plan to handle immediately?
Building a team from ground up and letting citizens know services that GCIC shall be offering.
Will this position also handle patriotism given that our values as a Ugandans are at not the best today?
Government is keen on nurturing a population that is patriotic. GCIC will be reaching out to citizens with information that raise awareness about Uganda and common values that connect us and make us a proud nation. That’s perhaps the only considered way that GCIC shall contribute to patriotism. It’s indeed a duty of everybody to be patriotic and to promote patriotism – and broadly image of Uganda. It’s the only Country we have.