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Québec’s Treasury Board Wednesday provided the first details about its plans to reorganize the online services it offers to citizens and appointed a new provincial chief information officer to help reach its e-government goals.

Robert Desbiens, a former executive at Cisco Canada, will coordinate

online initiatives among all the province’s departments as CIO, the government said. Desbiens was hired last fall as associate secretary to the Treasury Board with the mandate to review the online initiatives but also to re-evaluate an Oracle-based ERP project that was stalled once spending got out of control.

“”One of the key elements of this way of doing things is to focus — not on the government but on individuals, in terms of problems or life events,”” said Monique Jérôme-Forget, Chair of the Conseil du trésor (Treasury Board). That means creating portals that are organized in a way that respects how individuals or companies need to access government services and information, she said.

One of the first portals to be created under the strategy will offer change of address service.

“”About 900,000 people will be moving in Québec on July 1,”” said Jérôme-Forget, “”and they had to contact different government organizations to make their change of address.”” When the portal is launched in June, individuals will have to make the change only once, and the information will be transmitted to six government organizations, including the department of revenue, the licensing bureau and health-care administrators, among others.

These six organizations represent about 80 per cent of the address change volume, Jérôme-Forget said. Other organizations will eventually be added to the central service. Individuals will be able to make their change of address on the Web, by phone or in person.

Desbiens said that the process of distributing information through the portal was reviewed by the Commission d’accès à l’information, which made sure the service would respect all relevant privacy legislation. The province will not create a single database of personal information, he said, but if in the process of distributing data personal information is centralized, it will immediately be deleted once it has been sent to the six organizations, which will be responsible for their own information and for validating it according to their own internal processes.

This service will eventually be integrated into the portal of a new organization, Services Québec, which was announced Wednesday, an executive agency similar to Service New Brunswick.

New portals

A number of portals will be created to organize the information in a way that is closer to the way individuals look for information, Jérôme-Forget said. A youth portal to be launched in September, for example, will aggregate information of specific interest to individuals between 15 and 30 years of age.

An “”enterprise”” portal, meanwhile, will help companies register their businesses online with links to relevant forms. An online centralized change of address process for businesses will also be integrated in the second phase of the deployment of this portal, though no specific dates were announced.

Eventually, it will be possible to pay fines online, buy a hunting permit on the Web and access all geographic information available from the different departments through the Internet.

So far more than $15 million has been devoted to online projects in Québec. Jérôme-Forget said the work undertaken by Service Québec will not only affect the way the government delivers services but also the way it works internally, including head count.

“”We are aiming to cut the workforce by about 20 per cent over the next 10 years””, she said, mostly through attrition.

On the other hand, Jérôme-Forget said the government will also have to hire about 17,000 workers over the same period to replace people going into retirement (roughly 40 per cent of the 75,000 government employees, outside of the education and health-care organisations, will be retiring in the next 10 years).

“”A good thing is, the people we will be hiring will be younger and more acquainted with new technologies,”” she said.

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