It’s 2017, and 95% of all the world’s communication is done digitally. In an age when the whole world relies on messaging and e-mail services, the Khyber Pakhtunkha government had to survive 10 days without using any of these services. The black-out had been due to their official e-mail server’s disconnection.
K-P govenment’s email servers are hosted by a private firm to which they pay a monthly fee. However, as the government failed to pay their bills on time, the servers were disconnected.
K-P officials told that an amount of Rs134,000 was due which the government failed to pay within the specified time. Therefore, all email and communication services between government bodies were halted.
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A senior official of the K-P government said:
“The emails were disconnected in the second last week of October and remained suspended until last Tuesday when the government finally managed to pay the company’s bills.”
The official, at the condition of anonymity, reported:
“The delays in the payment raise questions over the K-P government’s claims of shifting to a paperless environment and slogans of E-governance.”
The suspension of e-mail services has been further confirmed by a third official from an autonomous entity of the K-P government. No warning was issued by the government regarding the suspension of services. The government departments were not aware of the issue and couldn’t prepare for the outage of e-mail services. An official stated:
“For the secretaries or other senior officials of the bureaucracy, it [email outage] would not be an issue since they rarely use their official emails. But we directly deal with the public through the official email which was suspended for more than a week.”
He further added:
“The Directorate of Information Technology should manage the server instead of a private firm which suspended it for delayed payments.”
Shifting to central data center
Private firms have their own terms and conditions. Consequently, government should be careful when dealing with these firms. Back in 2014, the K-P government developed a central data center. Two years later, the government shifted its main web portal from a private firm to its central data center. On the other hand, e-mail servers are still being managed by private firms.
It has been reported by the official that data of the emails, sent or received by all the departments and government entities has not been transferred from the private firm to the data center. He told that the private firm provided the government with a copy of the unpaid bills but the government failed to pay them in time.
However, now, the services have resumed now after the clearance of the dues. This has been confirmed by K-P Directorate of IT Director Bilal Jabbar. He stated:
“The company bank account was blocked by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) due to which the money could not be transferred to their account in time.”
The K-P government is now deciding to shift its email server to its central data center. All the departments have been asked to save their emails in order to shift them to the data center in the future. The government is going to shift the e-mail server to the central data center within a month. However, the delay is from the department’s side, said Bilal.