Green talks plans to improve genealogy tracing, digitisation of records at RGD
Acting records manager at the Registrar General's Department. Michelle Williams andFloyd Green examine a genealogy model during Green's visit to the RGD on FridayJanuary 21, 2022. (Photo: Jason Tulloch)

MINISTER without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, Floyd Green aims to strengthen the capacity of the Registrar General's Department (RGD) to conduct genealogy tracing.

Green, who has oversight responsibility for the digital transformation of the RGD, expressed the plans during a recent tour of the facilities in Twickenham Park, St Catherine, where he set out to get first-hand experience of the operations at the entity, which has many digital components in its daily workings but numerous manual processes, which stakeholders are seeking to retire.

While on tour Green told the Jamaica Observer he hopes to improve RGD's ability to trace people's family tree as well as identify the main causes of death for their deceased relatives.

“One of the things I really like is the genealogy tracing that is done by the RGD. I have said to the team that we have to go on a push, so that more Jamaicans know that this service is available and you can trace your heritage. The RGD has records that go back to the 1600s and more importantly, we can also look at the causes of death in your family line. There a lot of things we are working on,” Green said.

Genealogy tracing allows family members to gain full knowledge of names, marriage dates, birth dates, dates of demise, dates of christening, and many other facts that offer clues about who your ancestors were and certain traits, health or otherwise, that assist in one's lifestyle.

Further, Green said he was proud of digital advancements that already exist within the entity and was enthusiastic about making his contributions towards further development of the entity' operation, such as its bedside registration model.

“Definitely, we are going to be looking to work with the RGD to ensure that we strengthen our bedside registration model. We already have a model where we have representatives from the RGD who go to the bedside and start the registration process for our children. What we want to do is ensure that it is electronically done. We are going to be providing some hardware to RGD like tablets so they can do it all across the island. We are also going to be developing an app, so that once you collect the information it is automatically updated on the RGD system, so that almost instantly you can generate a digital birth certificate. We are putting in a time frame to the middle of this year to have the app ready,” Green said.

Green also lauded the improvement of the marriage registry department.

“We were able to see some of the advancements that have happened even in the marriage registry department where people who are getting married today, their records are digitised on spot and already there is a digital record they can have access to. We were able to see some of the spend from the National Identification System (NIDS) project. NIDS has been providing resources to build out the RGD as we transform. We have a lot of activities we are going to roll out this year for the RGD,” he said.

Meanwhile, Green said has already met with the management team and the board of the RGD to look at priority policy changes he will be pressing to implement in 2022 and beyond.

Charlton McFarlane, RGD's CEO, told the Jamaica Observer that he was proud to have Green “fully onboard and up to speed on current RGD issues”. He said the minister's tour of the facilities placed him in a stronger position to learn some of the nuances and to be able to make policy decisions.

McFarlane added that stakeholders' aim is to have a digital agency where 90 per cent or more of the services offered physically, are done online.

“Our guiding mantra now is digitally bold. In the last two years we have increased our online service offers by 100 per cent. We have doubled what customers can access online and there is more to come. By the end of this month, customers will be able to apply for adoption certificates online and they will be able to make appointments for registry weddings online and they will be able to do online searches. These things are complementary of NIDS and NIDS is all about digital transformation,” McFarlane said.

Accounts Officer Webston Pennant hands Floyd Green his certicate after Pennant manually searched for it at the RGD's offices in Twickenham Park in St Catherine on Friday January 21, 2022.
BY JASON CROSS Staff reporter crossj@jamaicaobserver.com

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