The Ministry of Works & Family Island Affairs, now headed by Minister Clay Sweeting, officially launched the Department of Local Government Help Desk, powered by the Digital Transformation Unit’s (DTU) ‘My Gateway’ online portal, where scores of government services, are now available online. The Help Desk will have four main offices, servicing different areas of the country, according to Minister Sweeting. Locations include, New Providence, Grand Bahama (serving the northern Bahamas), Eleuthera (serving the central Bahamas), and Inagua (serving the southern Bahama Islands).
The launch of the Eleuthera Help Desk office, located at the Administrative Complex in Governor’s Harbour took place on Thursday morning, September 28th, 2023, under the cabana, on the grounds of the administrative building. Along with Minister Sweeting, a number of officials and public relations personnel from both the Ministry of Works, the Department of Local Government based in New Providence, as well as the Digital Transformation Unit, were on island for the launch.
New Central Eleuthera administrator, Rochelle Anderson, moderated the launch ceremony, which began at 9:30 a.m. In addition to remarks from agency and ministry heads, the ceremony also included a live Help Desk demonstration, where a DTU employee made a call into the hotline with a service followup request – in this hypothetical case – it was a family islander following up on an application for a building permit. The caller was guided to a satisfactory conclusion of her request – with a confirmation that her application was actually there in the system, and awaiting on a town planning meeting to receive final approval. According to the Help Desk representative, the resident would receive an email notification as soon as approval was completed.
Tammy Smith, with the DTU in brief remarks, explained, “We have launched a total of 90 services online, and as of this morning we have processed some 143,617 transactions, which represent some $3.9 million in collected revenue. It is planned that we will launch an additional 30 services by the end of this year. However, as the demand increases for online service availability, so does the expectation for a greater level of expediency and transparency.
She continued, “Today’s event is a display of the commitment to provide the necessary tools and resources to enhance family island customer experiences. We therefore, are excited to partner with the Ministry of Works and Family Island Affairs and you, the relevant government agencies, and look forward to further collaborations in the future.”
Mr. Lynton Pinder, Department of Local Government Unit Head with responsibility for the Help Desk, based in New Providence, briefly described the path to launching the new initiative, and thanked a number of the ministries and technicians who assisted in the journey, before he introduced the Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Family Island Affairs, Mr. Neil Campbell. Campbell in his remarks, also acknowledged and thanked a number of people and agencies involved in making the launch a reality.
Minister Sweeting, who was credited for the vision and pushing to make sure the Help Desk initiative came to life, commented, “Today, I would like to share with you some of the insights into the profound significance of the Department of Local Government’s Family Island Help Desk, and the pivotal role it plays in our commitment to enhancing the quality of life across our beautiful islands – especially in the context of the government’s ongoing initiative to ensure further access to government services through digitization and information… The inception of the Help Desk was guided by a singular purpose – to provide comprehensive assistance and answers concerning central government agencies, their engagement with local government and the number of services available throughout our archipelago.
“Whether you find yourself with questions, or seeking guidance, or are in need of assistance – I urge you and those throughout the country to not hesitate to reach out to our dedicated team. They have undergone vigorous training – not only to assist, but also to leverage the power of digitization, information and technology to ensure your concerns are addressed with the utmost efficiency and effectiveness… Family Island residents have long deserved a higher level of service. It is our unwavering commitment to fulfill this need… The purpose of the Family Island Help Desk is clear, to better facilitate access to government services for the Family Islands, leveraging the latest in digitization and technology. Our officers stand ready, and committed to providing information, guidance and tangible assistance whenever required.”