The Chief Architect and Founder of WSO2, Dr.Sanjiva Weerawarana has stepped down from the board of the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) after little over a six-monthperiod following his appointment to the board in December last year, citing his inability to become a typical board member.
Dr. Weerawarana in a blog announced that he resigned from the ICTA board last Thursday.
Although, there was initial consensus among the ICTA board to get actively involved with the implementation of projects at operations level, Dr. Weerawarana said that ICTA Chairman and the board members later on decided to drift back to become a more conventional board by limiting their roles to provide governance and oversight for the organisation.
He opined that ICTA is an organisation that needed a significant makeover as it lacked a lot of technical depth (large chunk of its employees are project managers), hence he stressed that by being on a board providing governance and oversight is not the way forward for ICTA.
“Differences of opinion amongst professionals are normal. That does not mean one is perfectly right and the other is perfectly wrong. For me personally, I decided that it’s best for me to leave rather than attempt to do something in a manner that I don’t believe will result in success,” he said.
Dr. Weerawarana, along with his fellow board member and former Secretary to the Ministry of Digital Infrastructure and Telecommunication Wasantha Deshapriya were working on the digital government project after taking the overall responsibility of it.
“The overall architecture was developed in January and presented to (and approved by) President Rajapaksa in early February. Since January, I participated in about 50 meetings with various government officials and organisations to understand their needs and views and to bring people along to a common view,” he added.
He highlighted that he observed strong support from many State officials to move into a digitized government, but they were hamstrung by old protocols and processes.
The new government appointed a star-studded board to ICTA in late December, headed by Chairman Jayantha De Silva. Others in the board included, Mano Sekaram, Lalith Gamage, Reshan Dewapura, Manori Unambuwe, Wasantha Deshapriyaand Dr. Sanjiva Weerawarana.
In addition, Dr. Weerawarana also raised concerns over moving too swiftly to the tender process in awarding multi-billion rupee IT projects, which could be implemented at a “far lower cost”.
Although, the government has mandated ICTA feedback on all IT projects, he noted that their views were not always welcomed.
“I don’t think those views were always welcome, but I can’t watch multi-billion rupee tenders for driving licenses or for issuing train tickets go by without seeing how we can do them in the most modern way (and not just bringing 20-year old foreign tech), how we can do them at a far lower cost and how we can use them as an opportunity to create or build a local business,” he elaborated.
The two projects have been estimated to cost Rs.12 billion for the government.
Weerawarana said that his stint at ICTA was the shortest board stint in his career.