Barely a quarter of 20,000 officers are now using the application software set out for specific use in all departments despite a decade’s worth of development.
The State civil service is mired by a poor grip on technology and the lackadaisical attitude of officers has been blamed for its reasons.
“They need to make IT as part of their work culture,” said Resource Development and Information Technology Ministry Permanent Secretary Datuk Bruno vun.
“They are tools, and tools are supposed to work for them,” he explained.
Unlike the Internet, application software is designed for the use of its end users, in this instance the government officers.
Its creation like the State Computer Services Department did not happen overnight, and it involved hours of coding and work from software engineers in both specific and general use.
The response for general use applications like leave, human resource and pay roll had been generally fair, but it is the specific uses had been lukewarm.
With the State government paying RM28 million a year to upkeep the electronic government contract like connectivity, websites, email and manage services like costing, the use of in-house applications has been embarrassing.
Although they are generated to improve the delivery system, said Vun, allocations are also made to train staff and to run courses to allow officers to adopt these applications.
As the reasons are many, he pointed out the hardest to master was the senior officers who still rely heavily on the manual approach.
This means they would apply for leave and other general paperwork using paper. And this costs money too.
On the flip side, the junior officers who despite having a good command of the technology were mostly found playing truant on government computers which are equipped with Internet capability.
“Like visiting non-work related sites like social media or YouTube,” he said despite them knowing that their online moves are recorded through the computer Internet Protocols (IPs).
However, Vun said concern over Net surfing among officers is that they expose the whole system to virus attacks.
“Lucky there had been nothing serious so far. Sabah.net has set up quite a strong security mechanism,” he said.
But not all are negative on the introduction of applications to the government service.
According to Vun the use of IT has improved the government’s use of its manpower, saying many of them now would be able to do “more valuable work” on office time.
“Yes, they had to re-trained and retrofitted for newer roles. Mostly on the customer service line,” he told.
The introduction of the applications that have revolutionised the way the government administration is run has churned out value-added workers.
Vun has come to know that several staff now either had been promoted or able to execute vital roles in the ministry like office boys who also do desk jobs and telephone operators now crunching the keypads in accounts.
“They are being re-graded from their original roles, running from department to department offering what they can do to help others in the ministry.
“They are also areas where minimal amount of manpower is required as opposed to labour intensive methods that have been practised in the past,” he said.