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Achieving success in
e-governance requires active partnerships between government, citizens and the
In its journey to improve services for citizens, the government
has undertaken several successful e-governance initiatives such as MCA21
(to improve the speed and certainty in the delivery of the services of Ministry
of Company Affairs), online submission of income tax returns, Passport Seva Kendra
(PSK), etc. Also, to roll out all the planned 1,100 e-governance services by
2014, the government is making huge investment -up to Rs 40,000 crore. This
investment will cover the cost of all kinds of hardware and software that will
be required for capacity building.
‘At your service’ or Mee Seva is Government
of Andhra Pradesh’s window to its citizens. Nearly 6,000 Mee Seva Counters are servicing over 50,000 requests per
day, which are geared to handle 100,000 transactions a day. It has converged
all National e-Governance Programme (NeGP) initiatives in rendering G2C services
in a fast and secure way – thus ended the “tyranny of ink signatures”.
Back-end applications interact with database and pull out information and
front-end application receives the citizen’s request
and communicates with departmental application
– therefore gives a single view of the citizen. It involves departments like revenue,
registration, municipal administration, education and other service delivery
Reduction in cost, increase in storage, flexibility, information
access from anywhere and no worries about keeping software up to date are but
few considerations that encouraged Government of Maharashtra to pioneer a Maha
Gov Cloud. Implemented in State Data Centre, it is being used by
departments for website and application hosting. Out of 42 government
departments, 25 are already on the cloud that hosts 70 different applications.
Using feature of thin provision of storage and memory, resources are efficiently utilized
and allocated as per the requirement and
performance. It is helping the SDC team to manage planned maintenance
without requiring any downtime of the application, thus has increased procedural efficiencies.
For the most part, and notwithstanding the
success stories outlined above, the transition from traditional government to
e-government has overlaid technology onto an existing business model - a model
of disconnected silos. Policymaking, budgets, accountability, decision making, and
service delivery were all embedded within a vertically integrated delivery
chain based on specific government
functions. Ten years on, we have enough
learning to show that this approach simply does not work. E-governance projects
should be citizen centric and not technology centric. To improve citizen
services, the government needs to collaborate as the major challenge is that
each department works in silos with its own infrastructure -data centres, network
Citizens and businesses want greater access to government
information and services, with simpler processes, less paperwork, and more
efficient interactions. Citizens also expect flexible,
convenient interactions, sophisticated online
services, and prompt responses to their requests. Increasingly
frustrated by complexity, the need to visit multiple
locations, and the need to execute multiple transactions to satisfy simple requests, citizens now demand 24x7 access and rapid resolution. But the expense to
provide traditional services and to extend around-the-clock availability to
those services can be astronomical.
Multi-channel access (for example, web,
phone, text message, and in-person) can offer constituents access through those
channels that suit their needs and preferences. Governments can also reduce
costs substantially by migrating users from high-cost channels (in-person) to
low-cost ones (transactional websites). Another important consideration is social
inclusion. By far, the poorest and most vulnerable groups are often the
greatest users of government services. But these populations
are the least equipped to use technology. The
ultimate goals of implementing technology solutions are to free more resources,
help socially excluded groups, and to eliminate the digital divide.
While providing technology that better supports the citizen and workers is a significant step forward,
there remains the challenge of connecting disparate government agencies to
improve collaboration. Successful operations depend upon seamless collaboration
and sharing of information and resources. This requires
robust, scalable technology such as the cloud to
operate effectively, as without them the best intentions can be undermined by
simple breakdowns in the collaboration and communication.
Technology advances have opened up new possibilities and raised expectation
about governments’ role and how governments should serve communities. These
-Cloud computing as a viable ICT provisioning model and a way to reduce costs
and deliver new services.
-Social media to enhance and improve levels of participation and citizen
-Unique identity technologies enable greater degrees of
inter-agency collaboration and information sharing.
-Open data and government data
stores to allow much wider access to publishing and distributing public information.
It is necessary to bring together a set of IT capabilities that
genuinely provide an end-to-end solution to the government’s technology needs -
while also building in the interoperability and openness which is essential for
the multivendor world in which governments operate.
Getting the full benefit of the technologies and solutions requires a comprehensive programme of organizational and cultural change within
the government sector, to ensure that technology is not just bolted on to old
ways of working but delivers transformational impacts for citizens and
Given the quasi-federal nature of the Indian setup, Centre-State and inter-state cooperation is
necessary for smooth functioning of the democratic process. This cooperation is
also necessary for successful implementation of e-governance. Whether it is in e-governance,
treasury operations, urban planning or rural roads connectivity, state of
Madhya Pradesh has emerged as a pioneer leveraging IT in each one of them. The
Directorate of Treasuries and Accounts has ensured that its 4.8 lakh employees,
4.9 lakh vendors and about 15,000 pensioners receive their payments using
e-Payment system. Currently, 187 treasuries / sub-treasuries are enabled for performing
Mukhya Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana is an example of convergence of
MGNREGS MP with other schemes like PMGSY, where permanent assets are created. The
roads are being developed in a cluster approach across 50 districts in Madhya
Pradesh. Online monitoring, contractor details, expenditure and progress
details are available on a real time basis. The state government has also started
the scheme for recovery of bank NPA against government sponsored employment
oriented, poverty alleviation and socially desirable schemes. Recovery of bank
over dues is made against Revenue Recovery Certificates filed by banks as arrears of land revenue.
Web based BRISC software provides real time information on recoveries to
stakeholders, i.e., Tehsil, Bank Branch, Nodal District Branch, Lead District
Manager, and District Collector. Online Patwari Exam has removed manual intervention
resulting in huge savings in time and improvement in efficiency. Over 100,000 candidates have applied so far, out of which 80,932 candidates were tested.
The entire MIS is available online. Further, 110 of its cities are ready with
City Development Plans while CDPs of 270 municipalities are being prepared. All
the CDPs are available online.
The importance of adopting a bottoms-up approach cannot be emphasised
enough. Reaching the last mile is an issue across all development programmes
whether it is financial inclusion, delivery of health services or e-governance. In this context, one needs to
speed up the e-District project, for instance. Envisaged as Mission Mode
Project under the National e-Governance Plan, it is proceeding at a slow pace,
in different directions and hardly qualifies for a
national endeavour. Districts are the de facto front-end
of government where most government-to-consumer or G2C interaction takes place.
The e-District project was conceptualised to improve this experience and enhance
the efficiencies of the various departments at the district level to enable
seamless service delivery to the citizen. Front-ends under the scheme, in the
form of citizen facilitation centres, are envisioned to be built at District-, Tehsil-,
Sub-division- and Block levels. Village-level front-ends would be established
through Common Services Centres (CSCs) for delivery of services.
Implementation of an efficient electronic workflow system for
the District Administration is at the heart of
e-District. This coupled with challenging terrain such as in Assam makes it doubly difficult Admittedly,
AMTRON took up the challenge and connected ten departments in two districts- Goalpara
and Sonitpur with the aim to increase
accountability, efficiency and transparency in
operations such that public is benefited
to maximum extent possible. Citizens can now receive
digitally signed documents. The format of ‘Application Forms’ has been
standardized which can be used by all CSC/e-District Centres across the state.
All front-end officers have been
trained to deliver single window services.
The system is designed to be process driven rather than champion driven.
Despite NeGP, India still lacks a
full-fledged ICT framework for implementation of
e-governance. Complete implementation of e-governance will include building
technical hardware andinfrastructure. It will also include better
and faster connectivity options. Newer connectivity options will include faster
broadband connections and faster wireless networks such as 3G and 4G. There is
little argument to the fact that cellular phones based on various wireless technologies
have revolutionised telecommunication in India. But these cellular technologies
have not been sufficiently applied to deliver broadband data connectivity to
households in rural area due to high both cost and complexity. Itis now learnt that all the 250,000 Panchayats
in the country will have broadband connectivity by November 2013. Till you are connected,
how can one even presume to deliver e-governance.
Given that we are now in an era where technology provides much
greater inter-operability than before and standards based integration is far
more realistic we can look at a more structured approach going forward.
Successful delivery of e-governance must by definition
be led by the government itself. But private
partners can help governments by providing expert technical support. IT
initiatives in the government in India have largely been on a piecemeal basis characterized
by a lack of vision that has limited the resultant benefits. The use of
innovative public-private partnership models has been very limited and needs to
Worldwide, PPPs are often essential to the
efficient, speedy and sustainable design
and delivery of e-government services and programmes. E-government initiatives
in developing countries are constrained by lack
of financial resources, low level of skills and capacity
within governments, and the absence of incentive structures for rewarding
performance – and the case in India seems to be no different. PPPs in
e-government can help overcome many of these constraints, while at the same
time increasing opportunities for the efficiencies and to also to share the
risk correspondingly. To mitigate risk and ensure
quality and performance levels of the private sectors,
it is important to set standards. The Government of India is currently working
on standards management and has various drafts prepared relating to
inter-operability, technical and security standards. Experiences across the
globe show that IT is one of the areas which is eminently suited for PPP – especially,
in areas such as driving licenses, utility bill collections, management of land
records etc. Investments in information technology by governments have an
opportunity cost since there are limited resources of money, time and
attention. Investing these in IT would explicitly deny such investments in
other development areas like provision of water, sanitation, health, shelter, production
technology and skills development. Investments in private sector.
PPP can assume a wide spectrum of shapes like, BOO, BOOT (Build-
Own-Operate-Transfer), BOT for specified periods –otherwise called concession
contracts, joint ventures, private finance
initiative (PFI), partial privatisation through partnering
with strategic investor etc. The idea is to arrive at the right combination of
public sector accountability with private sector efficiencies and to also to
share the risk correspondingly. To mitigate risk and ensure quality and
performance levels of the private sectors, it is important to set standards.
The Government of India is currently working on standards management and has various
drafts prepared relating to inter-operability, technical and security
Experiences across the globe show that IT is one of the areas which
is eminently suited for PPP - especially, in areas such as driving licenses,
utility bill collections, management of land records etc. Investments in
information technology by governments have an opportunity cost since there are
limited resources of money, time and attention. Investing these in IT would
explicitly deny such investments in other development areas like provision of
water, sanitation, health, shelter, production technology and skills development.
Investments in information technology have therefore to be made very strategically
by governments. The Government of Andhra Pradesh, for instance, has focused its
energies on creation of content and digitisation of databases so that transaction
based services become attractive for private sector players. For example, in
the case of the TWINS project after a successful demonstration of the pilot,
private sector partners have been involved to provide services to citizens. In the
case of infrastructure creation, government has leveraged assets like land for
attracting private sector investments to set up facilities like Hitech City.
Similarly, the government has used the provision of a royalty free right of way
for attracting investments into setting up high-speed
optical fibre networks. The possible
usage of such networks for e-government applications in the future has in turn
enhanced their commercial viability.
Achieving success in e-governance
requires active partnerships between
government, citizens and the private sector. The
e-governance process needs continuous input and feedback from the `customers’ -
the citizens, resident, businesses and officials who use
electronic public services. Their voices
and ideas from the grassroots are essential to making e-governance work. Hence e-governance
has to be a shared vision with all the stakeholders- government and
non-government – participating in defining
Sameer Kochhar The
author is Chairman, Skoch Group.