Tuesday 14 July, 2020

RGD to get overhaul along the lines of digitisation

Mike Henry (file photo)

Mike Henry (file photo)

The Registrar General’s Department (RGD) is to get an overhaul that will make it a more digitised agency with a faster turnaround time for the processing of applications for births, deaths and marriage certificates and other services.

The process is to start with the registration of births, according to Mike Henry, the Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister.

The minister, who was making his contribution to the 2019-2020 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, said the RGD, for which he has responsibility, presently captures roughly 98 per cent of births nationally, and is seeking to digitise its business processes.

“A key step in that direction is to implement an image management system, one that provides digital images of the record, which can be viewed and used in various other forms,” said Henry.

He told the House that the software supporting the system is web-based, and it is the means by which images are scanned and indexed, and documents used to populate the agency’s electronic database.

“While it is currently in use to a limited extent, the plan is to expand the same to encompass the over seven million manual records now in existence at the RGD, which are to be linked to the digitisation process.

“This will result in greater efficiency in satisfying our customers, bolster the security checking features in relation to the records, and reduce storage costs in the long-run,” Henry stated.

Another major initiative on the horizon for the RGD is the Electronic Production System which involves the evolution of the current Birth, Death and Marriage System (BDMS). The BDMS currently processes customer applications to produce printed certificates.

Henry said the system will be modified to include image management, thus eliminating the need for the physical vital records when processing applications. He explained that it will no longer be required for the record to leave the vault, and the verification of information keyed will be by way of the ‘type on top’ methodology.

“A prototype is being worked on, and the applicable documentation is being prepared for the agency’s approval. The initiative will enable the production process to move from manual to more digital, which will positively impact the production turnaround time,” Henry indicated.

And in an effort to reduce the risk of loss of data, the RGD plans to create a secondary data site for disaster recovery. Henry said in order to facilitate the digitising of the records, funding is being facilitated by the National Identification and Registration (NIDS) project.

“By so doing, the RGD’s mandate of producing timely, accurate and vital data to respond to its customers’ requests for certified copies of registration, will be more efficient, timely and cost-effective,” Henry said.

The minister also said that steps will be taken to improve the quality of death registration through partnership. He pointed to a 2008 study of deaths that occurred in that year, noting that only 76 per cent of the deaths were captured by the RGD. 

He said the shortfall was shown to be mainly due to delays and non-reporting of sudden and violent deaths to the coroners’ courts, and the consequent delays or non-production of the certification needed for the RGD to register these deaths.

“These challenges are being addressed, as the RGD, with consultants, is now working on re-engineering the process to improve the capture of this vital data,” Henry said.

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