By Alecia Smith, jis.gov.jm
A key component in the implementation of the National Identification System (NIDS) is the creation of a new entity, the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA).
The NIRA will assume the administration of the civil registration system in Jamaica, replacing the Registrar General’s Department (RGD), and provide enhanced services.
The entity will handle the layered rollout and management of the NIDS.
Being implemented by the Office of the Prime Minister, NIDS is intended to provide a comprehensive and secure structure to enable the collection and storage of identity information.
The voluntary system will also facilitate the electronic signing of documents and allow persons to securely access a range of government services online.
Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, Hon. Floyd Green, who has responsibility for the NIDS project, informed that NIRA will be responsible for administering NIDS and developing protocols for its operation.
These include the enrolment of eligible individuals, the generation and assignment of a National Identification Number (NIN) and the issuance of a National Identification Card to each enrolled individual.
The Minister, who was giving an update on the NIDS project during his contribution to the 2022/23 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives in May, informed that NIRA’s design was submitted to Cabinet on May 16, 2022.
“Upon Cabinet’s approval and as we prepare for the creation of NIRA, the Public Sector Transformation Implementation Unit will be pivotal in leading the consultations with staff of agencies to be impacted and other stakeholders to accomplish this ambitious target,” he said.
Mr. Green said the Government has been looking at and learning from other countries’ successes and pitfalls and is building a system for Jamaicans by Jamaicans.
“We have looked at the Estonian model, the Indian model and other models and designed what will be a fit-for-purpose, best-practice approach to collect and manage identity information in the Jamaican context,” he said.
According to the National Identification and Registration Bill, the governing legislation for NIDS, which makes provisions for the establishment of NIRA, the new entity will manage two national databases.
These are the National Identification Database, which will store all the identity information collected by NIRA through citizen enrolment; and the Civil Registration Database, which stores all the information kept by the Registrar-General for the purposes of civil registration.
“PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Jamaica has been engaged and they have gone through an extensive process of determining the best structure and organisational design of our new agency, exploring best practices from all over the globe,” Mr. Green said.
NIDS will be kick-started with a national pilot, which will take place in Kingston and St. Andrew, with the first pilot enrolment site to be established by August 2022.
Five additional enrolment sites will be set up in the Corporate Area before the end of the year.
In early 2023, another eight pilot sites are to be established in Greater Portmore, Mandeville, Old Harbour, Black River, Morant Bay, Ocho Rios, Port Maria and Montego Bay. It is expected that by mid-2023, all other parish capitals will have enrolment sites.
NIDS will provide a safe, convenient and reliable means of verifying an individual’s identity. Under this system, every Jamaican will have a unique identification number.
Its implementation is expected to result in improved governance and management of social, economic and security programmes.