Center for Legislative Development Guides Lebanon on Information Technology

Abdo Baaklini

The Universityís Center for Legis-lative Development recently organized a conference in Beirut, Lebanon, designed to help key government officials implement an information technology policy that will guide Lebanon into the next century.

The conference, part of a larger effort by the Center to help Lebanon rebuild and modernize its government institutions, involved the participation of a team of University ex-perts in the fields of information management and public policy. Participants in the project, which was headed by Abdo Baaklini, head of the Center for Legislative Development (CLD), included Sharon Dawes, executive director of the Center for Technology in Govern-ment (CTG); David Andersen, interim chair of the Department of Public Administration and Policy; Terry Maxwell, executive director of the New York State Forum for Information Resource Management; and Peter Bloniarz, research director of CTG.

Baaklini explained that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) asked CLD three years ago to provide Lebanon with technical assistance and training to help strengthen its government institutions. Last fall, USAID extended the cooperative agreement with Albany through March 1998 to allow the Center to continue its work with the Lebanese Parliament and such key government agencies as the Government Accounting Office, Central Inspection Board and the Civil Service Board.

The Centerís most recent accomplishment for this second phase of the Lebanon project was the Information Technology Design Conference held in Lebanon in February, which was organized to help key officials develop and implement an information technology policy, according to Baaklini. "The team began its assignment by meeting with His Excellency Anwar El-Khalil, Minister of State for Administrative Reform," Baaklini said. Minister El-Khalil, who was appointed by the Lebanese prime minister to coordinate Lebanonís administrative reform efforts, has launched a $108 million program to help Lebanon re-establish public services and rebuild its economy.

The team then conducted a decision-supported conference that included Cabinet ministers, members of Parliament and their senior staff and advisers. The conference helped outline the requirements and structure of Information Resource Management (IRM) standards and policies for Lebanon. The draft outline was later presented to a larger audience of nearly 75 key officials and representatives of the executive branch and civil service for comments.

Upon its return to Albany, the University team compiled a report and recommendations, which were forwarded to Minister El-Khalil in Lebanon. Baaklini said the CLD will continue to work with the Minister for Administrative Reform to help Lebanon develop a comprehensive work plan and implement its national IRM policy.

During Phase I of its USAID project, which concluded last September, the CLD helped each agency develop a strategic plan, installed computer technology and hardware, provided computer training to Lebanese civil servants, and carried out many other tasks.

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