RegTech

Fire Outbreak at OAGF Office, FGN IT Infrastructure Plan and other Matters Arising

OLU OJO PHILIPS

From all indications, the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) platform does not have an active fail-over infrastructure in place.

The Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) on Thursday night confirmed this fact when it announced the successful restoration of service on the GIFMIS platform.

The OAGF said that the shutdown of the GIFMIS platform was caused by the fire outbreak at the Treasury House on Wednesday, April 8, 2020, which was successfully contained.

“The fire had affected the outdoor panels of the cooling system of the server and because of this the server automatically shut itself down.

“Repair works were immediately carried out on the affected part of the equipment and at 12:30 pm on Thursday, 9th April 2020, the server was successfully restarted.”

According to a statement from the Director, Information, Press and Public Relations, OAGF, Henshaw Ogubike, ” presently service has been restored and payments can be made and received through the GIFMIS platform.”

GIFMIS is an IT-based system for national budget and accounting management and is meant to capture every single revenue and expenditure transaction of government to enhance greater accountability and transparency across all ministries, departments and agencies.

If GIFMIS had an active fail-over infrastructure maybe a system shut-down would not have been a media issue in the first instance, and users of the system would not have known anything happened.

This development has triggered some pertinent questions for which answers must be provided immediately in national interest. For instance, where is the GIFMIS fail-over data infrastructure located and what is its status? When was it delivered, and which Federal Government’s agency certified it fit for purpose?? When was the last time a fail-over test was performed on the infrastructure and what was the result? Which government agency has responsibility for maintaining critical national IT infrastructure and ensuring hey continue to be in top shape? What is the role of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) in all of this?

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Considering the criticality of GIFMIS to government’s operations, is this not the best time to move its servers and those of other agencies that maintain critical servers on their premises to a centralized location where best services can be provided?

Consequently, the questions that readily come to mind are: How were national income and expenditure transactions captured for the over 24 hours when GIFMIS was down Could some transactions have happened during this period for which we would never get visibility because they were not captured on GIFMIS? Were there documented standard processes that were triggered in the face of the event that gave direction to system users on what to do to protect national interest?

Specifically, what do we consider as our critical national IT infrastructure and do we have a maintenance and management plan in place?

At our level of development, our critical operational infrastructure should not be left to the whims and caprices of MDAs. Is it not high time that President Buhari considered creating a position of the Chief IT Officer of the Federation or any other designation that has the mandate to design and manage Federal Government’s critical IT infrastructure?