AMANDA software to increase efficiency at local gov't ministry

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

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THE Ministry of Local Government and Community Development is deepening its efforts to improve the development approval process, through the implementation of the Application Management and Data Analysis (AMANDA) software.

As a result, professionals in the land development and construction field will now see their development applications being dealt with in a more efficient manner.

The AMANDA software allows for transparency through the facilitation of a paper trail, reduce inconsistencies and bring to a halt the bottleneck in task assignment and processes within the development sector.

Portfolio Minister Noel Arscott says at present Jamaica "has been able to find a way to make it difficult to get developmental approvals".

"We have billions of dollars locked up. People have come to me personally complaining of how difficult it is to do business in Jamaica and to get their development approval going. Jamaica has found a way to effectively lock up the potential of the country," Arscott says.

He was speaking at a press briefing recently at the Ministry's Hagley Park Road offices in Kingston.

The minister explained that the AMANDA software will lead to greater compliance by developers and professionals in the land development and construction sector.

"The implementation of the AMANDA software is a major stepping stone in helping to improve Jamaica's development application process," Arscott states.

Among the objectives of the AMANDA is the establishment of a development help desk throughout the local authorities.

The purpose of a help desk is to troubleshoot problems or provide guidance about products and services while supporting customers through various channels.

"One element of the overall programme for using AMANDA software is to review the proposed application for completeness. AMANDA will reject incomplete application and that's important, because in the past, applications were accepted at the various local authorities, but because the application forms were incomplete the process was stopped. So, after several months the forms are returned because they are incomplete. Once the application is not properly filled out, then the city will reject it," Arscott explains.

Once the application has been accepted by the planning agency, the details, such as scanned drawings and relevant information, will be entered into the AMANDA database.

From this database an acceptance letter with a unique reference number will be generated and issued to the applicant.

"The development application process is already integrated into the Amanda software, sending out each task in the process to all those responsible for responding to the tasks and the timeline. Once a task has been completed and is indicated in the database, AMANDA prompts the person responsible for performing the next task in the process flow," the Local Government Minister states.

"We are anticipating that the AMANDA software will, among other things, yield an increase in customer satisfaction, enhance accountability and provide ease of use in the tracking of application by the applicant," he adds.

Of note is that the Government has adopted a strict timeline of 90 days within which a response is granted to all applicants.

So far, the eight local government authorities have been equipped with the AMANDA software. Also, the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) has been using this software since 2002.

The local authorities that have already been using the AMANDA software are Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC), and the St Catherine, Manchester, St Elizabeth, Hanover, St James, Trelawny and Clarendon Parish Councils.

"We are hoping, certainly by year end, to add Portmore to that list. Once that is done we're going to test the efficiency and application. We're going to move speedily to ensure that all local authorities in the country have this system," Arscott notes.

He adds that his ministry is committed to unleashing the economic development potential at the local level.

To fast-track the implementation process of the AMANDA software, 30 end-users from the three counties are being trained in software management.

The end-users being trained are from NEPA, local authorities and referral agencies. An additional 10 people will be trained in information technology for technical support.

Implementation of the AMANDA software forms part of the Government's efforts to achieve an effective local government system.





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