GABS Platform Issues To Be Fully Resolved By End of March

Botswana’s Government Accounting and Budgeting System (GABS) platform is set to be fully operational by the end of March, sources told BW TechZone. The platform has had operational issues since August 2023. According to information from finance minister Peggy Serame, the system was last fully updated in 2018, with the last maintenance done in 2021.

Its downtimes over the past six months have led to delayed payments by the government to employees, contractors, and suppliers. Originally implemented in 2004, GABS is an Oracle E-Business Suite solution managing government's employees' payroll, pensions, and payments to supplies, among others. According to reporting by Sunday Standard, as of March 7, 2024, there were 14,727 outstanding supplier invoices valued at over P1.3 billion.

Sources close to the issue told BW TechZone that much of the ministry’s technical manpower has been funnelled into resolving the system’s issues as complaints continued to pile up. In late February, the government announced the purchase of two Oracle Supercluster (OSC) servers to support GABS’s hardware requirements. These are currently being set up to support the system, with progress having been made and a timeline of the end of March looking likely to complete the process.

According to the sources, the timeline for the system’s full operation was revised from the end of April to the end of March. “With the progress being made, the system is likely to be fully back online by the end of the month, or even as soon as in a few days,” the source told BW TechZone.

Despite the lack of updating for 5 years, the system had been down for only a cumulative 33 days between January 1, 2022, and July 31, 2023. This changed on August 11, 2023, when it encountered a glitch that prevented it from executing requests including travel requests, creation of Government Purchase Order (GPO), processing of payment vouchers, and general updating of the accounts payable modules. 

“The technical challenge had caused the system to consume so much processing power that users could barely transact," said Serame. "These challenges have adversely affected the execution of financial transactions especially payment to suppliers of goods and services as well as printing of annual tax certificates." In January, the minister had announced that the system was fully back online but issues and complaints by users continued.

According to Serame, the Ministry of Finance plans to review the current government financial management ecosystem and eventually implement a more “robust and modern system”, slated to go online by December 2024. 

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