Obtaining a security clearance certificate (SCC) within 24 hours or sooner will soon become possible when the procedure goes online next month, according to the home ministry.Â SCC, essentially a criminal record check, is required when applying for citizenship, employment, various licenses, higher education, promotions and travel documents.
Introduced in the 1970s as the no objection certificate (NOC), the process has remained a manual and lengthy affair for applicants.Â Recognising the inefficiency of the process, the government issued an executive order in March last year to update the system.
“Faster and friendlier,” said Karma T Namgyal, the director for law and order, describing the new online system.Â The director said a minimum of a day would be required to process an application with the new system.Â He added that work is still underway to cut even more time, which until now could take a week or more, to within a day.
The ability to apply, track, and follow up the process from anywhere in the country will be another significant change the online transition will create for applicants.Â Applicants will receive an unique identification number that will allow this capability.Â Once cleared, this number can simply be presented to, for instance, an employment officer, who enters it into the online system to verify the clearance.Â Until the home ministry partly decentralised the system in 2008 by authorising bureau officers to sign SCCs in 2008, certificates had to be directly obtained in Thimphu.
“It was a herculean labour,” said Karma T Namgyal, on the effort to develop the online system, which took nearly a year.Â He pointed out that digitalising the physical records of Bhutan’s entire population, “took a very long time.”
On how secure the online system is, the director said, “99.99 percent”. Jigme Tenzin, the project officer for the department of information and technology (DIT), which developed the online system, explained that additional measures had been taken to ensure security.
The database, on which personal records are stored, is physically separated from the online system, rendering it inaccessible to any unauthorised persons trying to gain entry, he said.Â As an added measure, no international consultants or experts, or the private sector were involved in the system’s development.
To further beef up security on the personnel front, the home ministry also conducted several “sensitisation” meetings with relevant agencies.Â “More strategies are being developed on not only the modalities but on security,” said Karma T Namgyal, adding, “we can’t take chances, security is the most important underlining of this project.”
“The system of requiring security clearance wasn’t designed with the intention of harassing people,” said the law and order director.Â “It’s only to make sure criminals aren’t serviced.”
The electronic system will next week undergo a trial by concerned agencies and selected officers, before being formally launched by the end of February. Source: Kuenselonline