Cut red tape, automate

ON THE ROAD WITH DOH
Churchill Aguilar ID
Churchill Aguilar ID

Red tape in a government office refers to excessive regulation that is considered redundant. It simply means having too many steps involved for a single transaction, and for every transaction, there are also different layers of government units or personnel involved which gives more room for corruption to happen.

These burdensome steps provide no added value at all. They usually include unnecessary paperwork and various low-level rules that make things slower and more difficult.

In fairness, the government has since tried to solve this problem with the promulgation of the Anti-Red Tape Law, the Republic Act 9485, which is an act to improve efficiency in the delivery of government service to the public by reducing bureaucratic red tape, preventing graft and corruption, and providing penalties therefore.

Sadly, such a law is only best on paper, yet it failed to solve the perennial problem as a whole because its implementation is a totally different story in the different offices.

There have been efforts and success stories worth learning from. The national agencies such as the Department of Foreign Affairs, the National Bureau of Investigation, and the Professional Regulatory Commission have all adopted online transactions, and true enough, the automation system has significantly reduced red tape in those government agencies.

However, such is not the case at the level of the local government units.

Cities and municipalities require tons of permits that need to be secured, which are even overlapping and would take days to comply with all the requirements if they even finish at all.

Simple follow-up of documents and permits, for instance, are quite a challenge for private individuals transacting in local government units, and so it has become a common practice for clients to bring goodies to share with every time they request for their papers to get processed, a subtle form of bribery.   

There is therefore a great need and urgency for a strong campaign against red tape at the LGU level, which needs more resolute action.

If lessons should be learned from the national agencies, it is to make all processing of transactions online so that there will be little to no chance for government personnel and customers to meet face to face. The said move will surely increase the LGU’s competitiveness and attractiveness to local and foreign investors.

The online transactions can establish a standard processing time. The data also gets automatically banked for consolidation from one central access point. It can secure the zero-contact policy between government personnel and clients while preventing government officials from refusing to accept and process an application due to political bias, charging other fees that have no legal basis, colliding with fixers, and intentionally delaying the processing.

It is high time that we solve the never-ending corruption issues attached with red tape by incorporating the use of emerging technologies. LGUs, regardless of category or income, must be compelled to make most, if not all, transactions online.

Let them automate.*  

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