More to MITA

by | Sep 3, 2020

 

Written by MITA

It’s a name you may well have heard over the years, but who exactly is MITA and why are they so important to the people of Malta? Dayna Clarke caught up with Pierre Vella, Head of Department, Marica Xuereb, Project Manager and Keith Cortis, Senior Solutions Architect from the Programme Management Department to find out more.

In the middle of Blata l-Bajda, where hundreds of commuters pass daily, sits the Head Office of MITA, The Malta Information Technology Agency. With Government being MITA’s main stakeholder, it drives the country’s ICT policy, programmes and initiatives.  Through its Programme Management Department (PMD), it manages the implementation of IT solutions to government entities, acting as the powerhouse to many systems each one of us may access daily. From hospital computer systems, VAT and tax return systems to others handling social benefits, pensions, justice, police, VISA and border control, customs, EU funding and much more, MITA’s fast work and robust IT systems keep public services ticking along day by day, and ultimately us, as the consumer satisfied.

“I remember a time when everything was paper-based; over the years, MITA has created plenty of IT Systems supported by a robust architecture  to help the government shift towards digital transformation and become digital-first. We still have a great deal of work to do, of course, as emerging technologies keep on coming to the fore, we are constantly unpicking some of our remaining legacy systems and overhauling them to be the best we can make them to be. It’s an exciting time to be a part of MITA”, explains Pierre Vella. “We are providing business agility services that cut across the government services to work in a more efficient and integrated manner” he adds.

“Reality is that, IT is the backbone of anything and everything in life, and we expect it to work as much as we expect electricity in our homes and a connection in our phones”

“As online systems evolved in sophistication around the world, so did MITA with the for example, filing obligation for citizens and businesses to move to a digital realm. This has greatly improved internal efficiency and the quality of information and has enabled much faster processing of information”.  But who exactly do MITA help? Pierre continues “Our work, through the use of technology, saves people lots of time. Citizens do not need to know or understand the level of complexity that reside on the back-end of systems which provide access to multiple services on multiple devices. Today we are in a place where employers and other information providers (such as childcare centres, banks, homes for the elderly, private independent schools, language schools) can file their information and payments, online. The Commissioner for Revenue can issue tax statements without the taxpayers having to file a tax return in a physical form.  Furthermore, over the last few years, this information started to be used by the Department of Social Security to issue benefits to citizens without them having to apply annually for such means-tested benefits. We are becoming increasingly automated”.

On top of this, Pierre explains that back in 2012, the Department of Health through MITA, launched the first generation of myHealth. This is a portal for medical practitioners to provide improved services to their patients; which was later re-designed and developed by MITA experts in the early 2017.  In addition, MITA provides other IT support services within Malta Government Hospitals and Primary Health Care.  These include, amongst others, various clinical systems in the areas of pathology, radiology and cardiology. The services are genuinely encompassing across many sectors of society.

Of course, we must acknowledge, there is an immense challenge to keep improving these services. MITA is working with the Ministries and the Office of the Prime Minister to provide citizens and businesses with one-stop-shop services to reduce the need for contacting various Departments or other entities.

From the Project management angle, Marica continues “The end-user is absolutely paramount to our planning, we cannot be only reactive with such systems, but proactive which is why we pull in members of the public for regular focus groups. This assists us with planning our next systems, ironing out any uncertainties and upgrading existing services. We recently performed such an exercise with a group of notaries, and it was incredibly effective. Feedback is vital for us to move forward”.

With thousands of people relying daily on the IT systems from MITA, how do they find the right people for the job? Marica explains, “MITA is made up of its people, we rely on their – our expertise, knowledge and experience.  We have a range of positions at MITA, some suitable for people new to the job market, such as new graduates looking to grow in a stable environment. Similarly, we have positions for individuals who have perhaps gained years of experience elsewhere and fancy a new challenge, working on a national and EU level. Upskilling at MITA is based on a talent ecosystem; whereby a pool of experts is continuously nourished with plenty of training, ranging from classroom-based, or online, to open discussions and debates. Employees are also given opportunities to receive training overseas from the top experts in the industry and represent the agency in several EU working groups with experts from other member states. Marica continues to stress that “creativity is a must, but equally as important is the pride and passion that one shows in their work – work which is giving back to society”.

Senior Solutions Architect, Keith Cortis echoes Marica’s sentiments, “Working at MITA has given me the chance to be proactive and see my ideas come to fruition – this is truly empowering. There’s a chance to channel and grow in whatever you may be interested in tech-wise – whether that’s Artificial Intelligence or Blockchain. We are always learning, and no two hours are ever the same!”.

With advances in technology ever-evolving and a department keen in their pursuit of innovative and creative development, it couldn’t be a more exciting time to be a part of MITA’s Programme Management Department.  The passion and pride that MITA puts in their job is refreshing; especially since what they do has a direct impact on Government and the country at large – and the significant responsibility their daily efforts bring with it.

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The passion and pride that MITA puts in their job is refreshing; especially since what they do has a direct impact on Government and the country at large – and the significant responsibility their daily efforts bring with it.

Programme management interview
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