BIR network still erratic

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The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) continued to experience erratic network connections in all its systems and electronic services in August this year despite the interventions made by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

further impairing the revenue agency’s productivity and delivery of frontline services.

Owing to this recurrent problem, the BIR asked the DICT to provide an update on the measures it has taken so far to resolve the bureau’s intermittent network connection as well as the long-term solution it is doing to support the BIR’s complex requirements “on Data Center (DC) hosting and provisioning.”

In a letter to DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr., the BIR said it experienced erratic network connection affecting all its systems and e-Services last 10 August at the height of the DICT’s work on the hardware provisioning, facility preparations and network reconfiguration to restore and back up the bureau’s Electronic Tax Information System (eTIS) following a hardware meltdown last July.

The eTIS is a web-based internal BIR platform covering taxpayer registration systems; returns filing and processing; collection, remittance and reconciliation; audit; case management system; taxpayer accounts system; batch architecture module; and system administration management.

Intermittent DICT network connectivity also severely delayed efforts to transfer the eTIS backup data and files from the Department’s DC in Quezon City to another one in Makati City last August, BIR Deputy Commissioner Lanee Cui-David said in her letter to Rio dated 20 September.

“Said network connection only stabilized last 30 August 2018. However, note that eTIS file restoration has not been completed as of date,” added Cui-David, who is in charge of the BIR’s Information Systems Group.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III was furnished a copy of the letter to Rio. The letter was also addressed to DICT Undersecretaries Denis Villorente, who is in charge of Development and Innovation; and Monchito Ibrahim, who handles Management and Operations; and Jennifer Pacatang of the Department of Science and Technology (DoST)

“We have always been forthright that BIR needs an iGovPhil DC that is able to fully and adequately address all components of DC hosting and provisioning—infrastructure, services, applications, tools, not simply physical hosting or co-location (itals as shown on the letter),” said Cui-David.

Cui-David reminded Rio in her letter that “we have repeatedly communicated the urgency for DICT to speed up the process of strengthening and enhancing the iGovPhil DC/s, as envisioned under Executive Order No. 47,” which paved the way for the implementation of iGovPhil (Integrated Government Philippines Program).

“Therefore, may we be apprised on what DICT has undertaken so far to address recurring iGov DC co-location problems of BIR and in the long-term, how to fully and effectively support the complex BIR requirements on DC hosting and provisioning,” added Cui-David.

The iGovPhil Program, launched six years ago, aims to rationalize government operations and improve the delivery of goods and services to the people through the use of ICT. The DICT and Department of Science and Technology (DOST) are the lead agencies implementing the program.

In an earlier letter, the BIR informed the DICT that its eTIS operations broke down on July 3, shutting the agency’s access to taxpayer records, especially its Large Taxpayers’ Service and the Makati Revenue Region. This happened after a major hardware meltdown at the DICT’s DC, which housed the BIR’s systems and eServices.

It took the DICT more than 25 days later to address this concern in a meeting held with the BIR last 30 July.

In that meeting, the DICT committed to provision the hardware replacement for the BIR’s system on 2 August.

The BIR informed the DICT that this task involves not just the physical provisioning, but a complex range of measures that involves technical assessment, allocation, formatting and configuration that cannot be completed in one day but should be done over a period of time.

The DICT completed the hardware provisioning on 20 August and proceeded with the network configuration that was completed on 24 August after which the BIR began its eTIS restoration activities.

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