THE DEPARTMENT of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has asked Congress to clarify through the agency budgets which organization is ultimately responsible for directing the effort to digitize government processes.

Testifying before the Senate in a budget hearing, Undersecretary Emmanuel Rey R. Caintic said the DICT has encountered resistance from various agencies when it sought to coordinate the digitization program, and asked for clarification of its authority by giving it much of the funding for digitization.

The DICT’s Palace-approved proposed budget for 2022 is P9.06 billion. The department had originally proposed P34.63 billion.

If budgets for remaking government processes are to remain with the individual agencies, Mr. Caintic asked that the DICT be provided “more power to intervene and hold (agencies) to account for where that ICT (information and communications technology) connectivity budget is being applied.”

He added that under the current arrangements, its interventions are viewed as unwarranted intrusions on decision-making by the individual agencies.

Senator Francis N. Tolentino noted during the hearing Monday “the apparent non-cooperation or inability of other agencies to realize and comprehend that they should coordinate with DICT.”

In some cases, the DICT’s role has been limited to improving the internet connection, because the individual agencies tend to hire their own information technology personnel, Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II said at the hearing, but when problems arise, the DICT is the first to be blamed.

Senator Maria Lourdes Nancy S. Binay-Angeles said there appear to be “turf wars” surrounding the digitization effort, adding that the DICT “should always be on top of digital technology under the government because they are the ones with the core competence.”

She added that other departments should always obtain clearance from the DICT on their digitization initiatives.

Mr. Honasan said that appreciation for connectivity was limited within the government, adding that vested interests may be throwing obstacles in front of efforts to streamline government processes.

“We want to digitize, but there are some groups who don’t want this to happen,” he said.

“How we wish the DICT to lead instead of supporting,” said Mr. Caintic, noting the need for the Congress to clarify the department’s role. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan