September 20, 2021

‘The end of downtime’ at Home Affairs in South Africa

The Division of Home Affairs is reviewing its IT structure to enhance customer support and scale back general dependence on the State Data Expertise Company (SITA), says minister Aaron Motsoaledi.

Responding in a written parliamentary Q&A, Motsoaledi stated the division is in the method of evaluating its inside abilities with a view to ‘creating the necessary capacity for its work’.

“A review of its enterprise architecture is also underway. This will allow it to better plan its systems in line with the government-wide enterprise architecture framework while pointing out areas where the dependency on SITA can be managed,” he stated.

Motsoaledi stated that SITA submitted had submitted a R700 million plan to the division to enhance its IT infrastructure.

Whereas the total plan won’t be carried out, Motsoaledi stated that a number of important elements from the plan might be adopted, together with:

  • The upgrading and upkeep of the dilapidated community tools  – routers and switches – at Division of Home Affairs workplaces.
  • SITA may even increase its core community to scale back regional community outages.
  • A proof of idea may even check an upgraded ‘gold’ and platinum community bundle, with the Division of Home Affairs presently solely paying for ‘bronze’ options.

Downtime

Motsoaledi has beforehand pinned the blame for the state of Home Affairs’ techniques on SITA – pointing to different authorities companies such because the South African Income Service (SARS), which not often skilled downtime as a result of it procured its companies from personal corporations, which authorities departments weren’t allowed to do.

In response, SITA boss Luvuyo Keyise hit again, stating that Home Affairs had purchased the most affordable potential IT companies with the bottom service degree agreements, which led to extended downtime.

The bronze service utilized by many of Home Affairs workplaces supplies solely a single 2Mbps copper-based ADSL reference to no backup in place, Keyise stated.

SITA desires Home Affairs to contemplate upgrading to a platinum-tier service to provide the division the redundancy it requires and a much more stringent service-level settlement.

Keyise stated that, with a platinum service, SITA or the designated service supplier should resolve issues inside an hour. Nonetheless, because of the redundancies, the service issues that include any outage is often mitigated inside minutes.

A scarcity of backup community hyperlinks and outdated tools are the actual causes Home Affairs branches’ techniques are sometimes hit by lengthy downtime, stated Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Adrian Roos.

Roos stated it was alarming that solely 35 out of 691 Home Affairs branches had a backup hyperlink. Home Affairs was the one main authorities division with out twin communication hyperlinks to all its workplaces.

“This means that if one form of the network goes down, then the system cannot be accessed,” Roos stated. He cited information offered in parliament, which confirmed that 90% of Home Affairs techniques downtime incidents was attributable to points inside Home Affairs workplaces on account of 88% of community tools being out of date.

Reserving system 

Home Affairs has additionally introduced extra direct measures to enhance service supply at its branches – together with a brand new reserving system.

Presenting to parliament at the end of August, the division stated that the appointment system has been finalised and might be deployed in chosen workplaces in the present monetary yr.

The system is built-in with the nationwide inhabitants register to permit shoppers to make use of their ID quantity to guide a slot. It will stop brokers illegally working in house affairs workplaces from blocking slots to promote them on, it stated.

A short presentation of the brand new system reveals a cellular app that may permit South Africans to enter their person particulars and schedule appointments.

This consists of choices to guide an appointment at a selected house affairs workplace in every province, in addition to an anticipated begin and end time.

Customers are additionally anticipated to fill out a declaration concerning their well being and Covid-19 standing for well being and security laws.


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