KOROR Palau — Gary Sword co-owner of Express Electronics; is originally from American Samoa. But work developing software now takes him throughout the Pacific. Sword was a participant of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s mission to Guam Saipan and Palau in 2004.
Sword met with the Journal in Palau where projects include a Border Management System for the Ministry of Commerce and Trade Bureau of Human Resources Development and most recently software programs for the Ministry of Finance’s Bureau of Revenue Customs and Tax and the municipal government.
The BMS program in Palau led to arrests of Chinese nationals in December 2004. “Within two months of putting in this system they caught five people using falsified documents ” he said.
Express Electronics also installed programming at the Palau Division of Tax. “We built the tax system here in Palau. Within seven months of deployment the tax office for the first time in history was able to identify 400 non-filers. They are still trying to figure out the amounts.”
The program links tax departments and business license systems. If businesses do not remit gross receipts tax payments for instance the business license office is notified and a non-payers list is created. Tax payers are sent letters on first and second instances of non-payment. “We have all the letters in the system ” Sword said. “Local governments need as much money as they can get their hands on.”
In the Northern Mariana Islands Express Electronics has also been retained. “We have an office in Saipan. We have three people there ” Sword said. “In CNMI we are finishing work on the customs system.
Other projects are in the pipeline he said. “We have a couple of proposals in for business licensing in Pohnpei. We’re doing the hospital in conjunction with PRA [Computer Sales & Services]. It’s a centralized health information system.” He said the system at the hospital combines medical records laboratory results and billing. “It tracks treatment and associated costs. These are processes that were manually done.”
Express has eight fulltime employees. “The rest we contract out. We’re islanders born and raised in American Samoa. We partner with other island businesses we never go it alone.” While in Palau Express partners with PRA its Saipan partner is Megabyte.
Sword said the company has hired two local employees in Palau to learn software programming. “That capacity building is really important.”
The company supplies purpose-designed software for clients. Sword said “We design it ourselves and we build a framework then bring it back and put it together. We like to work on the basis that we build a basic application.”
Other projects that Sword has launched are in the fields of utilities and broadcasting.
“We also have a consulting group called Quantum Pacific.” Quantum can consult on power and water. Sword said that the company was looking at Saipan Chuuk “and possibly Palau to improve water and delivery services.”
In addition Sword was instrumental in setting up a network of Christian radio stations Showers of Blessing Radio. The station launched in American Samoa in 1999 in January in Palau and in the Marshall Islands in April and in Western Samoa in July. Broadcasting 24 hours a day seven days a week KNWG employs six people in American Samoa and four people in Western Samoa. “Here and in the Marshalls we don’t have any personnel yet ” Sword said. “We just stream music.” The stations play Christian music deliver news and feature advertisements on some stations. MBJ