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ASG launches Open Government Initiative today

fili@samoanews.com

The American Samoa Government is launching today the “Open Government Initiative” (OGI) overseen by the Department of Information Technology, whose director Easter Bruce is also the territory’s chief information officer.

In a Sept. 24 memorandum to government agencies about the OGI, Gov. Togiola Tulafono said the electronic age and the Internet has provided a medium to access government information through websites, portals and electronic document repositories.

He said a few executive branch agencies are providing their services and programs online today.

“Under the guise of OGI, government information must be accessible, available and reliable when accessed from the Internet,” he pointed out. “Further, accesses must be approved and controlled to protect government information from negligence [innocent misrepresentation], malicious intent to deceive [fraud], and cyber threats.”

Since the appointment of the chief information officer to oversee the IT department, Togiola said this department has been charged with developing solutions to protect, safeguard and secure all government information in the executive branch, regardless of the agency.

The governor said today’s event will kick off the IT department’s role with developing an information security framework to help agencies protect and secure their information before effectively implementing a culture of an open and transparent government.

“The launching of this initiative is to promote the main principles of OGI: transparency, participation and collaboration,” the Togiola said.

He noted that many agencies are exercising some form of OGI through current mediums today, such as the ASG weekly newsletter from the governor’s office called Tapuitea (which will also be officially relaunched today).

In closing the governor encouraged departments’ attendance and participation in this event as the IT department “collects and gathers requirements for inclusion into their transition report to be presented to the new administration transitioning this critical initiative into a government-wide plan and policy.”

The IT department was established last year by executive order and the bill to create this department by law remains pending in both the Senate and House — which has already held at least two hearings on the proposal.

It remains to be seen if lawmakers will take any final action on the bill as the current Legislature officially ends next week Wednesday.

Of note, the governor had twice submitted the annual budget for ASG with the IT department as a stand alone agency, and twice the Fono placed it under the Governor’s Office annual budget.



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