DOST bares P9-billion ‘Digital Empowerment Fund’

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Unknown to many in the ICT industry, the national government has allocated P9 billion as budget for ?Digital Empowerment Fund? that can be tapped by public agencies to procure digital devices for their use.

ICTO chief Louis Casambre (center) during the e-Gov masterplan launch with members of the CIO Forum

This was disclosed by officials of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) during the recent National ICT Summit 2013 in Mandaluyong City where the e-Government Master Plan was also launched.

According to Denis Villorente, executive director of the Advanced Science and Technology Institute of the DOST, said the fund was set aside to allow government workers to become familiar and adept users of digital devices as the government embarks on massive computerization projects.

Villorente, who is also the acting director-general of the National Computer Center, said the P9-billion budget is on top of the proposed P2.7-billion e-Government fund for 2014.

The ASTI chief said the fund is being managed by the Department of Budget and Management, which releases the money to individual government agencies. One of targeted beneficiaries of the fund, he said, are the public school teachers who can use their laptops or tablets to augment their teaching.

Although the government is shelling out a huge sum for the IT gadgets, Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO) executive director Louis Casambre pointed out that the government is now spending less on IT infrastructure.

?I know the Digital Empowerment Fund is big but let?s us not focus on that alone,? Casambre said. ?We?re no longer spending as much as we used to because we now share resources.?

The government is currently implementing a host of IT projects under the iGov initiative, which is under e-Government masterplan. A bigger S&T blueprint, Smarter Philippines, is also being rolled out by the DOST.

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