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The Senate Select Committee held its fourteenth hearing session today in which it took a deep look at the technical aspects of our passport system. Rodolfo Bol, the Information Technology manager at the Department of Immigration since August 2012, managed and oversaw the computerized system. He provided a detailed account of the process, step by step, and role by role, explaining how an application for passport is accepted and processed. The Senate Select Committee members were interested in fully understanding the system because there have been many instances where aspects of the fully computerized process has been overlooked or where the process has provided inadequate checks and balances.


For example, an issue raised is how it was possible for persons assigned to specific responsibilities get involved in other aspects of the process. The Audit General’s special audit report raised this issue because having separate roles is itself a check and balance but in their investigations the Auditor General’s office found this was side-stepped. According to the IT manager, he was instructed to allow it.


Senator Elena Smith – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“Were person in higher positions such as the Director or the CEO’s or the Ministers did they had a user’s role in the system?”


Screen_Shot_2017-03-15_at_8.00.36_PMRodolfo Bol – IT Manager Immigration Department


“Up to the Director yes, not CEO or the Minister but up to the Director yes”


Senator Elena Smith – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“So CEO’s and Ministers would have no access to the system any at all?”


Rodolfo Bol – IT Manager Immigration Department


“No, that I remember they would not have any accounts there. The Director would have, Senior Staff would have access to it”


Senator Elena Smith – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“Ok , would the Director have access to all of the stpes to all of the…”


Rodolfo Bol – IT Manager Immigration Department


“No, no, no we would limit them to viewing only.”


Senator Elena Smith – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“Ok, thanks”


Senator Mark Lizarraga – Member of Special Senate Select Committee


“First of all, you had a person who created the file in this case it was one Erwin Robinson, and then you had Erwin Robinson again as data entry completed and then you had Erwin Robinson again as quality assurance pass whatever that mean, he is the final check, why would we have had, why would the system have allowed the same person to perform three roles?”


Rodolfo Bol – IT Manager Immigration Department


“Ok the first two roles is the same role; it is just the data entry and the data entry completed is the same role they just separated by two different entries is the same role and again it depends it’s on the supervisor, they would call me they need to assign this person keyway role so that because we short of staff, x reasons they don’t have to explain to me and then I will go ahead and update that account to have two access; data entry QA or data entry and print, print and QA which ever they need fit at the moment.”


Senator Mark Lizarraga – Member of Special Senate Select Committee


“And these authorities would come to you in writing or verbally?”


Rodolfo Bol – IT Manager Immigration Department


“Verbally, they usually would make a call.”


Senator Mark Lizarraga – Member of Special Senate Select Committee


“So there is no way for you to prove that you did in fact receive instructions?”


Screen_Shot_2017-03-15_at_8.00.36_PMRodolfo Bol – IT Manager Immigration Department


“Yeah it is usually a call I would receive and it is usually a supervisor, users no…anybody can’t just call me and say I want access to this no…”


Senator Mark Lizarraga – Member of Special Senate Select Committee


“So at no time as the system administrator and knowing that we are dealing with our national identity, did you ever consider making the recommendation to not allow people to have multiple roles?”


Rodolfo Bol – IT Manager Immigration Department


“Yeah, it was mentioned several times Sir.”


Senator Mark Lizarraga – Member of Special Senate Select Committee


“In Writing”


Rodolfo Bol – IT Manager Immigration Department


“I believe in meetings or very informal discussions within the department we did it but then again like I said it’s not me who determine who or which user has which role it is usually the supervisor would determine that.”


Senator Mark Lizarraga – Member of Special Senate Select Committee


“By supervisor you mean”


Rodolfo Bol – IT Manager Immigration Department


“The passport supervisor at the section”


Senator Mark Lizarraga – Member of Special Senate Select Committee


“And that could change from day to day?”


Rodolfo Bol – IT Manager Immigration Department


“No, the passport supervisor no, they basically don’t change.”


Senator Mark Lizarraga – Member of Special Senate Select Committee


“Was there a particular person?”


Rodolfo Bol – IT Manager Immigration Department


“At the time of the report it was Mrs. Sharon Neal.”


This peculiar cross-cutting of roles is what occurred in the Kim Won Hong case where the same Immigration officer who accepted the application riddled with discrepancies, ended up confirming its quality assurance. This is perhaps why no one raised alarms when despite not being physically here to take a photo, a photo of Kim nonetheless made it on the passport. This was an enigma for the Committee, one for which the IT manager himself was shocked about.

 

Senator Mark Lizarraga – Member of Special Senate Select Committee


“In this particular case we now know that the person was not present and that in fact a photo was entered into the system, how is this possible if Mr. Robinson should have taken the picture of Citizen Kim?”


Rodolfo Bol – IT Manager Immigration Department


“I don’t know how it would be possible but the system will require to take a picture…”


Senator Mark Lizarraga – Member of Special Senate Select Committee


“No, no, no I am asking you from a technical, you said to take a picture did he just took a picture of what did he do, how could he do it?”


Rodolfo Bol – IT Manager Immigration Department


“Well the system, when you open the system you only have two options; capture and camera on and save basically that is what they have so…”


Senator Mark Lizarraga – Member of Special Senate Select Committee


“How could he take a picture of this person, they hang it in front, that is what you would have to do you can’t scan it in in other words?”


Rodolfo Bol – IT Manager Immigration Department


“There is no option for scanner, there is not option for scanning the system, there is not copy there is nothing”

Senator Mark Lizarraga – Member of Special Senate Select Committee


“So, ok…”


Senator Dr. Carla Barnett – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“Mr. Bol, the Auditor General quotes you that yes a picture can be scanned into the system, so you didn’t say that?”

 

Rodolfo Bol – IT Manager Immigration Department


“I did not say that.”


Aldo Salazar – Chairman Special Senate Select Committee


“In your opinion, the picture, the image of a person who was never present in Belize, never present in passport office, who was in detention, how could an image of him get on to a passport?”


Rodolfo Bol – IT Manager Immigration Department


“I won’t be able to answer you on that...”


Aldo Salazar – Chairman Special Senate Select Committee


“You don’t have an opinion?”


Rodolfo Bol – IT Manager Immigration Department


“Just to what we did with Minister Hulse and Mrs. Marin that we actually tried to do that picture of a picture and we did something it’s on the system we can show you what was the result of it and beyond that we didn’t went ahead through the whole process we just did the data entry part of it and the picture is there for you all to see, I mentioned it to the Auditor General and I think it is mentioned here in the report about it so…”


Aldo Salazar – Chairman Special Senate Select Committee


“So the image of Wong Hong Kim , what purports to be the image of Won Hong Kim, and you’ve said that there is no way that that image could have been taken previously by the system.”


Rodolfo Bol – IT Manager Immigration Department


“No, it would show a date there when it was taken.”


Aldo Salazar – Chairman Special Senate Select Committee


“Right, and the user is there so then it is beyond question that Mr. Robinson was the operator who got the image of Wong Hong Kim into the system.”


Rodolfo Bol – IT Manager Immigration Department


“If that is what on the system and that is what is recorded his name, his user name his account was used yes.”

 

Aldo Salazar – Chairman Special Senate Select Committee


“Who in the process would have gotten to have a look at that image because those people should have noticed something wrong with the image that is dark or that is not showing properly or that there is something wrong with it, so it would have been the supervisor, she would have…”


Rodolfo Bol – IT Manager Immigration Department


“At that level the supervisor have access like I said; data, biodata, and the three images; face, finger print and signature.”


Aldo Salazar – Chairman Special Senate Select Committee


“And quality assurance as well?”


Rodolfo Bol – IT Manager Immigration Department


“No, quality assurance doesn’t see the images.”


Aldo Salazar – Chairman Special Senate Select Committee


“Ok, so it’s only the supervisor that gets to see the images?”


Rodolfo Bol – IT Manager Immigration Department


“Yes and then depends…”


There are many other aspects of the Kim Won Hong passport application file that should have raised question but it appears that the recommendation by former Minister of State Elvin Penner was sufficient to get it through.

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