October 2005

Web-based personnel administration for government

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e-Governance enables the executives in taking an objective and unbiased decision with a ‘reliable database’ using I.T. as an accurate data analytical tool. e-Governance in Personnel Administration has been successfully implemented and is in operation in Delhi Public Works Department (PWD) since 15th Oct 2004. While it is being continuously upgraded with new features, it has brought about transparency in personnel administration in PWD. It has empowered employees as well as administrators. For retrieval of information, dependence on files and supporting staff is largely eliminated.

 

Features of Personnel Information Management System (PIMS)

The web-based software can be implemented in any department/ ministry of any central/state government with central pay scales. Due to versatility of the package, it has also been laterally extended in Central Government to CPWD. It has at present over 30000 employees on its database. Features of PIMS are summarised as under:

 

Capable of handling employees with different rules of man-management: It is capable of handling any department/ministry with its employees drawn from different cadres with different rules laid down for man-management by different Cadre Controlling Authorities. There is flexibility of adoption of designation wise and cadre wise different criteria for transfer/posting based on tenures of ‘nature of job’, ‘station of posting’, ‘posting in region, circle and/or division’, etc. This main feature of the software enables each of the Cadre Controlling Authority to fix transfer/posting criteria centrally and its uniform adoption in the government by various subordinate authorities delegated to issue Orders of Transfer of employees of that cadre.

 

 Integration of any other department/ministry possible: The modular character of the software allows other departments to be integrated to a common database, by adding various office Ids, list of designations, related posts and cadres in those departments/ministries.

 

Decentralised data entry: There is no necessity of employee data collection and its entry before it can be implemented in the department. Here, data furnished by the employee after verification from service records is entered in a decentralised manner by Heads of Offices (HOO) who are in possession of service records. After the data entry in database, the copies of printed data as entered is handed over to employee and also kept in official personal file of the individual employee.

 

Uniqueness of employee Id: The employee Id is generated independently, based on the employee’s name, date of birth, date of initial joining the service and the initial designation at which service started. With no chance of any duplicate employee Id, the database can have data of all employees in the government on a uniform pattern.

 

Online administrative functions: This has online administrative features of
• Online transfer/ posting of officials based on tenure at a station of posting, tenure in a particular type of duty and/ or tenure in the same office.
• Online relieving and joining of the transferred employees
• Online salary bills: In Delhi PWD, it is compulsory for all HOOs/ DDOs to pay salary to its entire staff based on bills prepared through this software.
• Online leave application/ sanction and simultaneous updating leave account of each employee. The online view facility available to employees of balance leaves at his credit is convenient to employees.
• Promotion module: With seniority lists of all categories of employees available on display to employees, it brings transparency in personal administration.
• Online directory of employees: With each HOO as well as employee on login is required to update official and residential contact details. Thus,the online accurate telephone directory is available to citizens, employees and HOOs.
• An instant and sure communication system: For issue of circulars, administrative orders and communication through PIMS mail with appropriate filters applied as per requirement to be communicated to offices, officers and/ or staff.

Compulsive monitoring of transfer orders & their implementation:
At every login, the system displays the list of employees posted-in or transferred-out from an office till they finally join respective ordered office of posting. This compulsive monitoring enables any Head of Office to bring about and enforce administrative discipline conveniently by locating the absconding transferred employees, who after getting relieved from an office disappear on other lucrative assignments and join back in the new office later.

Enforces administrative discipline:
The compulsive linkage of payment of salary of each employee through this software can enforce administrative discipline in the Government in ensuring strict implementation of its policies including transfer/ posting orders.

Human resource development: It covers all aspects of human resource management and its development. It can be used with advantage in skill up-gradation of employees with training needs appropriately addressed. Online nomination for seminars/training courses based on specialisations allocated to each of the officers is an important tool for proper human resource development. Advantages of unified database: The composite unified database of all government employees would be immensely advantageous to the government, employees as well the citizen at large.

Password protected functions: While it addresses day to day personnel administration with user friendly web-based software, the data security mechanism has been ingrained into the system with password protected operations and designation based graded responsibilities of administrative functions for employees under their administrative jurisdiction.

Challenges and their resolution

While e-Governance can be applied at all places but the continued online and accurate updating of data always remains a challenge before the management. This necessitates an in-depth study of the system to incorporate certain features in the system to have compulsion for every one to update the data regularly. The reason for its success and failure largely depend on this factor alone. Many challenges, which have been resolved in implementation of this project, are as under:

Commitment of top management:
It is foremost and essential for the success of any e-Governance project. Top management is equipped with financial as well as administrative powers, both of which are important. Financial powers are needed for facilitating with the required hardware & software, whereas administrative powers are needed for enforcement of its policy. Even the basic information for generation of the minimal database, which is essential for e-Governance, does not come forth voluntarily from the majority of employees of a large organisation. This is because majority of them perform only their assigned routine duties unless forced with administrative powers for implementation of its e-Governance policy. If the top management itself is not committed to e-Governance, it will never be able to get implemented.

Computer phobia: Due to advancement of information technology at an unexpected fast pace, a common employee or an administrator belonging to yester years is hesitant to even touch a computer. This is because he had never been trained in his schooling or professional training before joining the service. This phobia acts as a big deterrent and it has to be dispelled properly by allowing them to feel homely with computers.

It is therefore necessary to give a compulsory exposure to each of them in training sessions with the hands-on exposure on use of computer by allowing them to use it independently. Basics of Computer, hardware and Operating System are some of the topics that need to be covered. Besides this, they should be informed about the basic hardware of computer, its operating system, and they have to be made comfortable with other user-friendly common day today application software.

Training in PIMS: In order to exploit full potential of the PIMS and develop confidence    amongst its users, it is essential to inform them about its operations, capabilities and other finer issues during training sessions in classroom environment with hands-on exposure to the software use. They should be encouraged to ask further probing questions during these sessions for acquainting themselves by about use of software and its potential.

In order to ensure implementation of e- Governance through PIMS, each of the offices of Delhi PWD (more than 60), was exposed to five day hands-on-training sessions with three days devoted for Head of Office & his deputy and two days for Establishment Incharge & Clerk responsible for salary bills. With sixteen desktops in a Class Room interconnected with LAN, 6 to 8 offices per week were given hands-on training and were exposed to the web-based application software besides computers introduced as utility tool with its basics made known.

Responsibility of data-entry and its accuracy: It is a common practice to create database by making data entry centrally, which could work only in small organisations. But in large organisations, data entry and responsibility for its accuracy has to be distributed.

In the present case of PIMS, each employee and the Head of Office (i.e. custodian of service record) were made jointly responsible for the data entry and its accuracy. The employee was  asked to fill up a data-sheet based on his information and his Head of Office was to verify the  same from service record before making entry in the database through Web-based  application. PIMS printout of entered employee data is required to be delivered to the  employee and a copy of the same was to be kept in his personal record. Each Head of Office  was required to certify the same with data entered of his employees to be accurate as per  Service Record and submit to next higher authority.

Employees’ resistance against change:
Even if new system might be far better than the  traditional one, if the benefits are not immediately visible, majority in big organisations would not like to switch over, due to familiarity and confidence in the old systems, unless there is compulsion to change. Given a laxity, they would revert to old system.

It is therefore essential that implementation of e-Governance has to be compulsive for certain  key functions of the organisation. The old system has to be dispensed with altogether from a  cut off date. If the two systems are allowed to continue together, it is certain that  implementation of e- Governance would be rather impossible. In the present case of PIMS,  salary bill, transfer/ relieving/ joining orders for all employees was forced on the offices to  make it mandatory through the Web-based application and the traditional methods were  disbanded altogether.

Generation of interest amongst employee(s):
The successful implementation largely depends upon the motivation of the employees at large, which can be generated by making the project attractive in their day today working. It has to be made further attractive by giving them access to the information, which matters to them personally.

Transfer criteria and transfer authorities:
Transfer/posting or placement on deputation is  a normal administrative practice effecting rotation between Intraministries, Intra-   departments, Ministry-Department & vice versa, State-Central Government & vice versa. There are huge challenges to be addressed when employees are transferred very frequently   with varieties of employees coming from different governments, ministries, departments; different cadre controlling authorities are responsible for their transfer; transferring authorities are based on the designation and the cadre to which the employee belongs; and there are different transfer criteria based on their designation, cadre, station of posting, tenure in an  office and the nature of duties. Therefore it is necessary to provide convenience to every  transferring authority to be able to exercise effective control on employees under his jurisdiction as per laid down policy. Confidential remarks to keep all such record of pressures for retention or getting desired posting for each employee, could be maintained. It could be seen as and when required by the competent authority in future to do away with future pressures.

Conclusions

PIMS can be used with advantage to bring in a uniform e-Governance practice in Personnel  Administration in Government. It is capable of substantially reducing paper flow and energy of  the Government as bulk of it is wasted in Personnel Administration. It empowers the citizen,  employees, the administration and the Government as a whole. It would make the  Government more efficient by bringing in a transparency to reduce large number of disputes  in Personnel Administration as at present due to non-transparent system.

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