Outgoing President Aquino signs bill creating DICT

The long wait of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector is finally over. President Aquino on Monday signed the bill creating the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

The DICT Act of 2015 will also be known as Republic Act (RA) No. 10844.

“The DICT shall be the primary policy, planning, coordinating, implementing and administrative entity of the Executive branch of the government that will plan, develop and promote the national ICT development agenda,” the new law read.

Among its powers and functions include establishing a free internet service that can be accessed in government offices and public areas; assisting in the dissemination of vital information essential to disaster risk reduction through the use of ICT; and ensuring and protecting the rights and welfare of consumers and business users to privacy, security and confidentiality in matters relating to ICT, among others.

The DICT shall be headed by a Secretary, who will be appointed by the President. The Secretary shall be assisted by three Undersecretaries and four Assistant Secretaries.

The new law also provides that two of the three Undersecretaries and two of the four Assistant Secretaries shall be career officers. One of the four Assistant Secretaries shall also be a licensed professional electronics engineer.

Moreover, the law also requires that the Secretary, as well as the Undersecretaries and Assistant Secretaries, have “… at least seven years of competence and expertise in any of the following: information and communications technology (ICT); information technology service management; information security management; cyber security, data privacy, e-Commerce, or human capital development in the ICT sector.”

The new law likewise abolishes agencies, which will be transferred to the newly created DICT: Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO); National Computer Center (NCC); National Computer Institute (NCI); Telecommunications Office (TELOF); National Telecommunications Training Institute (NTTI); and all operating units of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) with functions and responsibilities dealing with communications.

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), National Privacy Commission, and the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordination Center (CICC), meanwhile, will be DICT attached agencies for policy and program coordination.

With the creation of the DICT, the present Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) shall now be renamed the Department of Transportation.

There will be a six-month transition period for the full implementation of the transfer of functions, assets and personnel. However, existing personnel shall continue to assume their posts in holdover capacities until new appointments are issued.

The DICT shall also create a Chief Information Officer (CIO) Council and may also create industry and sectoral task forces