August 2005

Critical success factors for ensuring better services

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The enabling role of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in the delivery of services in the public and government sector has now gained acceptance. Government of India and several state governments have been harnessing the benefits provided by ICTs to initiate smart governance. Now, the emphasis now is on reinventing and reengineering the government at all levels to make processes simple, to reach citizens faster, to increase transparency and to provide efficient services. Several significant initiatives have been taken at the Central and State level in this direction. While roadmaps drawn by various government agencies will facilitate the use of ICT at grassroots level, the success of any e-Governance initiative, particularly the Citizen Service Centres will depend upon a number of factors. It is necessary to understand these factors to guarantee the intended benefit to the masses, who otherwise will not absorb the new technology. The list of factors presented here are indicative and may not be comprehensive.

 

  • Emphasis on social return apart from income generation – The Services rendered by citizen service centres may be priced so that the centres can generate income for self-sustainablity. Of course, the charges must be low and affordable by the rural people. Also, the services must be planned and customized to meet local needs and aspirations of villagers. The G2C services must improve the rural economy and result in better healthcare and literacy. The ultimate yardstick to measure the success of citizen service centres is how far they can change the traditional relationship between citizens and the state and result in citizen empowerment.
  • Identify strategic location–These centres may be located in a place, which is within a reachable distance of targeted users and where people are already congregating for other reasons such as shopping, post office, library, banks, coffee shops.
  • Place a premier anchor – Services available at citizen service centres must be well known to the citizens. This is possible only through aggressive promotion by an anchor who will be a newscaster to the villagers on the use and relevance of ICT and G2C services. This will give these centres a good image and any negative perception about computer risks or even ICT per se can be removed.
  • Avoid reinventing the wheel – Procedures that govern the delivery of particular type of services may be common across various states. It is therefore beneficial to opt for tried and tested solution rather than going for a new design and development. This will not only save time but also reduce maintenance problems.
  • Willingness of Departments to reengineer their proceesses –People will expect multiple services from citizen service centres and it is necessary for several departments to make the government process network enabled and also integrate them in a way that citizens can easily interact with the government. The processes must be citizen focused rather than government procedural focused. e-Government is about a process of reforming the way governments work, share information and deliver services to the external and internal clients for the benefit of both the government and the citizens they serve.
  • Provide demand-driven content – Good content makes these citizen service centres viable in the long run. The need of the citizens is to get access to local content, which informs and enlightens them. It must provide more opportunities in terms of employment, getting economic benefits from the government and solving their day-to-day needs.
  • Assess citizen’s response – Citizens are the important stakeholders of CSCs. They should have a say in the type and variety of services the centers can deliver them and user friendliness of the operational aspects of the online system with which they interact. The feedback of the stakeholders in general and the end-users (citizens in this case) in particular will enrich the architecture of the solution design of G2C services and also improve the quality of services. Interaction with the citizens will enable them to appreciate each other’s problems and constraints.
  • Create a right ambience – Lastly, the real success of any e-Governance project to a largely depends on the human stakeholders of the project. ICT can bring the benefit to the masses only if the service attitude of people involved in the operation of citizen service centres is good.

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