Civil registry restored after ‘inordinate delay’


Tribune Business Reporter


PUBLIC access to the civil registry at the Registrar General’s Department was restored last week as its top official apologised for what she described as an “unexpected and inordinate delay” and disruption.

Camille Gomez-Jones, the Registrar General, explained at the Prime Minister’s Office media briefing that public access to the civil registry - known as CRIS - had to be “disabled” from last September to preserve the integrity of its data while the digital platform was redesigned.

Tribune Business previously reported how attorneys and realtors had branded the loss of access as “a horror”, given that they were no longer able to conduct rapid and relatively inexpensive online searches for title deeds and particular conveyancing documents via the civil registry. The latter also holds births, marriages and death certificates.

Ms Gomez-Jones, though, said public access had to be disabled so that sensitive data could be migrated to the new civil registry system without being lost, damaged or breached. “Some time in September, it came to our attention that it would become necessary for us to disable the public access to the Registrar General’s civil registry information system, which I refer as CRIS.”

Noting that government officials in multiple departments, as well as attorneys and realtors, use the civil registry’s functions, she added: “So there was a disruption in that service and we were attempting to resolve the issue as swiftly as possible but, unfortunately, we were met with an unexpected, inordinate delay.

“In dealing with the issue it came to our attention that the platform needed to be redesigned in order to maintain the integrity of the data and, in that process, we connected with the Department of Transformation and Digitisation, who were the project managers on redesigning the platform so that we did maintain the integrity of the data.

“Unfortunately, in that exercise, it took a little longer than expected and the disruption ensued for a lot longer than we intended. I am here today to announce some happy news that we are no longer disrupted, but we have maintained the integrity of the data,” Ms Gomez-Jones continued.

“We have redesigned the platform and it is now available for public use. We have engaged in testing and we have successfully completed the project without incidents, no breaches. No damage to any data and the platform is now available for the public to use and to resume regular functions... I wish to extend sincere apologies for the inordinate delay.”

Following a presentation on April 4, the Registrar General said she had authorised that fill public access to the civil registry be restored. Ms Camille-Jones added: “Rather than us going back and forth between four systems to track your data, we have one system that you can use at the touch of a button. You will be able to order and receive your documents from the comfort of your home.... We are on the road to full digitisation.”

Meanwhile, the Attorney General said the new digital corporate registry, which deals with company name reservations and incorporations, will be operational by May-June 2023 for new entities. Ryan Pinder KC, addressing the same briefing, said: “What we’re looking to do is, by the end of this month, be able to have what I call a closed dummy pilot.

“[This] would allow some of the major users of the company registry, generally, the banks and the law firms and some of the financial corporate service providers, to have use of the system so they can advise us from the user point of view if any tweaks need to be done to the system. That we hope to be hosted this month. Again, that’s not for real incorporations. That’s just for their user experience and feedback.

“Shortly thereafter, hopefully by May or June, we will look to have the system launched for new incorporations.” Mr Pinder said the final phase will involve the migration of historical data to the new portal and platform. Ms Gomez-Jones said the new corporate registry will effectively merge five systems into one.

Under the present companies registry, she explained that e-services is where banks, law firms and financial and corporate services providers go to reserve names and incorporate companies. However, another system is used to store all the data, and others track the payment of fees and record the images of scanned documents. Paper files serve as a back-up.

“When you want an update to your company I have to go into all these systems because they don’t talk to each other and make sure everything is considered so we can give an accurate report on the status of your company,” Ms Gomez-Jones said. “What we are seeking to do is remove all of these systems and merge them into one. In doing that, we want to make sure that the data we are merging is accurate and error free.

“When we were doing that migration phase, because we were prepping for the civil registry, we discovered we needed to do some work to the civil registry to prevent any breaches or disruption to the data. We were able to redesign the civil registry without any breaches and have it available for use.” Family Island administrators will now encounter a second security tier when they access the system.

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