THE BURSA VIDEOCONFERENCE - "CYBERNETIC SECURITY" / MARIAN MURGULEŢ, STATE SECRETARY, GOVERNMENT CIO:"I see a ministry of digital transformation that would act vertically and an active CIO, which coordinates IT horizontally"

GEORGE MARINESCU
English Section / 16 decembrie 2020

"I see a ministry of digital transformation that would act vertically and an active CIO, which coordinates IT horizontally"

The digital transformation of the economy represents a challenge for the political decision makers in Bucharest, as it represents an important objective of the European Commission meant to contribute to economic decarbonation. Unfortunately, many of the projects that have been begun over the last few years have been deadlocked by challenges or various lawsuits, a fact which slowed down the government's projection for a quick digitalization of the activity in the central and local administration, as well as for the development of the economy. Marian Murguleţ, IT Coordinator, State Secretary and Government CIO talked to us about all of the above in an interview.

Reporter: What is the situation in the area of digitalization in Romania?

Marian Murguleţ: Romania has wasted many years in the area of digitalization. Obviously, in 2020 certain progress has been made under the pressure of the Covid-19 pandemic and of the private sector, but it is insufficient in terms of the possibilities and particularly compared to what is necessary. And that has happened with a human resource that is overqualified within our grasp. There has been a lot of talk about digitalization, it is a dream topic for conferences and roundtables and too little has been done.

Reporter: What should be done to boost activity in the sector?

Marian Murguleţ: A new institutional architecture is needed in the IT&C area on a government level. I support a Ministry of Digital Transformation that acts vertically and an active CIO, working with the Prime-Minister, a coordinator and integrator of the IT segment. We need a strategy, a unified coordination of the sector, with experts on every segment of the IT&C area. Then an efficient management for the implementation of projects needs to be introduced, with a matrix of activities in the long term and people in charge and tasks, as well as an implementation plan.

Reporter: Since you have mentioned the projects in the IT&C sector, can you tell us the current stage of the investments started by the government? Are there delays in implementation and what are their causes?

Marian Murguleţ: We have numerous major IT&C projects that are behind, amounting to hundreds of millions of lei, projects that in 2020 have suffered various significant delays, and which I would categorize as follows:

- all projects were deadlocked, in the first phase, for at least 8 months due to the non-functioning of the Technical-Economic Committee (CTE) between November 01, 2019 - April 24, 2020 (almost 6 months)

- major projects deadlocked even after the CTE resumed its activity and the approval of the technical specifications as a result of the reduced capacity of the administration, not only of the ministries / agencies concerned, bureaucratic barriers, etc., and that is where I would like to give you just a few examples: the government cloud, with a cost of about 44 million Euros, the Computer System for the Management of Schooling (SIMS), also known as the School Roster - 49 million Euros, the Computerized System for Healthcare records - RegInterMed - 14 million Euros and a Computerized System for the record keeping for Intensive Care - SIEC - 14 million Euros.

- major projects deadlocked by lawsuits from companies which had in 2019 turnovers that amounted to just a few hundred thousand lei and profits smaller than the collateral submitted with the National Council for the Resolution of Disputes (Consiliul Naţional pentru Soluţionarea Contestaţiilor - CNSC). One of these projects is EDULIB - the Virtual Library with an approximate amount of 49 million Euros.

Reporter: Under these circumstances, what should be done to get those projects implemented? How can the time wasting caused by the disputes filed with the CNSC be avoided?

Marian Murguleţ: We are talking here about appeals already rejected by CNSC, but which obstruct / delay major projects, causing significant losses.

It is useful to note that there are already concerns at the government level when it comes to revising public procurement legislation to reduce the possibility of unfounded disputes that only delay public procurement procedures, sometimes for years. Also, where the current legislation at the level of contracting authorities in the public sector is concerned, there is the recent clear decision to bring lawsuits to court to retain the guarantees submitted by the appellant companies, in cases where it is considered that damages were caused by appeals definitively rejected by the CNSC, and to let the courts establish the well-founded or unfounded nature of the appeals.

Reporter: What are the directions Romania should develop in over the long term?

Marian Murguleţ: In order to be able to count on the economy of 5-10 years from now, Romania must head towards the digital economy based on three pillars, namely infrastructure, technology and innovation. Right now, there is no public policy set, the IT&C ecosystem is developing with difficulty. The "soft" projects have been preferred, the easy ones, with an immediate impact (obviously that approach has also been under the pressure of Covid-19) and have been avoided, and delayed, respectively, the key platforms of the major systems in Romania (education, healthcare, government cloud etc).

However, we have three categories of accelerators of digital transformation in Romania: international partners, in general, the European Commission, in particular, and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Reporter: How will European norms and policies influence the digitalization of the IT&C field in our country?

Marian Murguleţ: On December 8th, 2020, the European ministers in charge of digitalization have passed the Berlin Declaration on Digital Society and Value-Based Digital Government, in an online conference hosted by the German presidency of the EU Council.

The next day, on December 9, in a vote in Brussels, Member States' representatives decided that the future European Center for Industrial, Technological and Research Competences in Cyber Security (ECCC) would be based in Bucharest.

On December 15, the European Commission will present two very important acts: Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Markets Act (DMA). It remains to be seen what the implications will be for Romania. Through the DSA tech giants will be forced to comply with precise rules or else run the risk of paying billions of Euros in fines, and the DMA will impose a number of ex-ante prohibitions and a set of investigations which would determine potential anti-competitive behaviors of the major technology companies.

Reporter: Thank you!

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