By Rowena Altura
In line with the on-going implementation of the BIR Digital Transformation (DX) Roadmap for 2020-2030, efforts are already underway to modernize the Bureau’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) systems and infrastructure.
As an initial step, concerned revenue officials and personnel in the BIR National Office attended the Online Planning Workshop conducted by Avasant L.L.C. (Avasant) on June 8 and 9, 2022 in line with the Technical Assistance for the Philippines: Bureau of Internal Revenue ICT Modernization Strategy and Data Center Project.
To study the current state of the Bureau’s ICT capability in terms of structure, manpower and infrastructure, Avasant, a management consulting firm specializing in digital and IT transformation and governance services, was commissioned by the BIR (through a grant provided by the United States Trade and Development Agency) to recommend strategies and plans for the enhancement of the Bureau’s core ICT systems and data centers.
Information Systems Group (ISG) OIC, ACIR Ma. Rosario Charo Curiba led the participants (comprised of all Assistant Commissioners, ISG Managers and other concerned officials/personnel) in attending the workshop wherein Avasant consultants presented the following: i) Enterprise Architecture Design; ii) Computing Infrastructure Strategy; iii) ISG Organizational Design and Change Management; iv) RFP Technical Definition; and v) Implementation Plan.
During the presentation on Enterprise Architecture, it was discussed that, through this digital switch, the BIR can reduce the complexity of IT systems being developed while keeping them aligned with the needs/requirements of tax administration. Based on the results of the gap analysis that will be produced by Avasant (after the determination of the current state and future [desired] state of the BIR), an Enterprise Architecture Roadmap will be prepared defining the various initiatives/activities required to be implemented by the Bureau to migrate it from the current state to the future state.
Avasant expressed that BIR ISG will implement best practices and establish operational governance policies and processes with a “Cloud First” mindset to attain operational efficiencies, cost optimization and service excellence. High Level Technology Requirements, which include Data Center Rehabilitation and use of Software-Defined Network platform, were then presented by Avasant’s local counterpart.
In addition, the Impact on Tasks and New Roles to be performed by the ISG personnel under the Cloud Infrastructure Strategy were also discussed by Avasant.
The presentation on ISG Organizational Design and Change Management introduced the participants to the Federated IT Model. A review of the best practices for organizational design and change management (including the framework, methodology, approach and deliverables during Organization Change Readiness Assessment and implementation of Organizational Change Management and Communications activities) was also taken into account as well as the required key competencies and new types of positions for the “future state” ISG.
The RFP Technical Definition was presented with the assumption that BIR will execute a “cloud first” strategy/policy in its ICT operations while continuing to maintain and operate in the near-term (3-5 years) on-premise data centers and commercial third party co-location facilities to support the Bureau’s critical workloads. Further, the discussion covered hardware, connectivity, and software required to support the Bureau’s ICT modernization efforts as well as the requirements for BIR Data Center rehabilitation.
A strategic third-party partnership was also recommended by Avasant to provide managed and augmented professional services to accelerate the Bureau’s ICT modernization and rehabilitation efforts. Said third party services include Enterprise Architecture and solution design services; managed administration services; operational support/ infrastructure administration; end-user support and management services; and BIR Data Center rehabilitation, operations and maintenance services, among others.
Lastly, sample high-level Implementation Plans were included in the presentation – from the preparation of Requests for Proposal (RFP) for the suggested third party services to the signing and implementation of contracts. Sample activities for the evaluation of RFP using the “due diligence process” and activities related to contract negotiation were also discussed.
The BIR ICT Modernization is part of the Department of Finance’s (DOF) Technology Harmonization and Modernization Program that intends to create common technology foundations and information exchange standards among the agencies under the Department’s supervision (i.e. BIR, BOC, etc.).
Specifically, the Program seeks to standardize technology infrastructure, guarantee system availability and uptime, improve service levels and ensure business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities that will enable DOF agencies to produce real-time and accurate data on-demand.
“By aligning the BIR’s ICT capability with its strategic digital transformation goals, the Bureau’s organizational capacity to manage an increasingly complex technical environment will be enhanced, thereby improving performance, increasing security, reducing costs and rationalizing the many platforms and services employed by the agency”, said one Avasant consultant.
Ultimately, with the implementation of the BIR’s ICT modernization initiatives, the Bureau will become a highly customer focused and data-centric agency with a broadened tax base and significantly improved tax collection efficiency.