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Call for centralised government database

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In a bid to slash red tape, innovative Western Cape government officials have proposed real-time centralised databases to store data on key projects and mobile apps to track development applications.
These were among the submissions in this year’s Red Tape Challenge, an initiative of the Red Tape Reduction Unit that was launched in 2013 and seeks to offer recognition to the Western Cape Government’s most innovative employees who submit their ideas to streamline the administration and improve service delivery.
Alan Winde, MEC of Economic Opportunities, commended the entrants. “It’s encouraging that interest in this initiative is growing. When the competition launched in 2013, 75 entries were submitted. This year, over 600 submissions were received. The Red Tape Unit is changing the brand of our region. Through their work, we are sending the message that the Western Cape is creating the right environment to do business.
“The ideas submitted during this year’s Red Tape Challenge prove that our officials are committed to reducing red tape to accelerate the pace of service delivery.”
The Red Tape Challenge selected eight finalists. The three top entries received awards, and there was a special award to credit innovation. There was also a Municipal Challenge, which recognised municipalities’ efforts to cut red tape.
Trevor Wood, in the Department of Premier, took the top prize for his idea of a realtime, universally accessible spreadsheet.
“Spreadsheet data is very common in the Western Cape government, as officials often use these spreadsheets to store data and important information. To store this information more efficiently, a central database can be created, which can have user friendly functionality. The central database can be used by multiple users to update the information and data stored on the central database. The benefit to officials within the Western Cape Government is that all officials can have ‘live’ up to date information and data available at the click of a button, making decision making and service delivery more efficient.”
Rudolf Mienie, who works in Provincial Treasury, was awarded second place for his proposal to display data from the National Treasury in a web application. This application would provide an overview on public funds, detailing expenditure, asset and liability accounts and payment turn around for 30-day payments to suppliers.
“From all this data, reports can be provided with a push of a button to all departments. Graphs can also be developed. The application can be rolled-out remotely by just e-mailing the zip file of the short-cut of the URL and providing the user with their login details.”
Bernadette Baxter, from the Department of Health, earned third place for her proposal to change the way government does business with entrepreneurs.
“Businesses who do business with government need to possess a SARS tax clearance certificate. There should be an option of applying for an intention of good standing certificate. If this is allowed, then small businesses have the opportunity to tender and win bids.”
Kubeshini Govender, from the Education Department, clinched the innovation award. Officials using government vehicles have to log trip authorities. Govender has suggested a paperless option.
In a new category, this year the competition also recognised the contribution of municipalities to cutting red tape.
The Swartland municipality won the Municipal challenge for their introduction of an electronic building plan process. The Knysna Municipality took second place for transforming their method for informal trading applications. Under the new system, informal traders may apply electronically.
“The municipalities have shown us the impact that reducing red tape has made on service delivery. I’m pleased that many of the ideas which have been entered into the Red Tape Challenge in previous years are being considered for implementation,” says Winde.