February 2007

E-GOVERNANCE A RISING WAVE IN GOA

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Goa is still an ‘Aspiring Leader’ as most of the initiatives taken by the Government of Goa so far on the Information Technology front are still in their nascent stage. It may take a couple of years for the things to get stabilised and start yielding the desired results. At the same time efforts are also being made to make Goa an IT destination

GOA, A TINY STATE in India, is a well-known spot on the world tourism map. It is famous for its beautiful beaches, pleasant climate and peace-loving people. Along with the waves of the Arabian Sea, in recent times the waves of information technology (IT) have started taking Goa in its stride. Though Goa is a late entrant in the arena of IT, it is all set to catch up with the situation. As per the e-Readiness Assessment Report 2004 published by the Department of Information Technology, Government of India, Goa is given the status of ‘Aspiring Leader’. Undoubtedly, at the current juncture,Goa is still an ‘Aspiring Leader’ since most of the initiatives taken by the Government of Goa so far on the IT front are still in their nascent stage. It may take a couple of years for the things to get stabilised and start yielding the desired results. At the same time efforts are also being made to make Goa an IT destination.

Since beginning much efforts have gone in this direction. The Info Tech Council, a high-level body headed by Dr. R.A.Mashelkar, Director General, CSIR, has been constituted to advise the Government on various IT matters, particularly in the areas relating to applications of technology in R&D, and development of relevant infrastructure. A Task force for Good Governance has been constituted under the Chairmanship of the Minister to lay down the policy framework for achieving the objectives of Good Governance, including e-Governance. The Task force is responsible, inter alia, for ensuring fl ow of sufficient funds for e-Governance activities. Goa IT Policy was announced in 2005. A High Level Monitoring Committee has been constituted which is responsible for review and monitoring of the measures taken by the Government for the implementation of the IT Policy. Rajiv Gandhi IT habitat, IT Park and IT Retreat are being established to house IT/ITES companies. Govt. of Goa has declared them as SEZ (Special Economic Zones), which would further create conducive atmosphere for rapid growth of IT/ITES industry. Besides, more incentives for investment in the IT sector have also been announced Cyberarge scheme was launched to provide computer systems to all the 11th standard students to develop their IT skills and also to make their family e-Literate. A training programme was launched to ensure that in the next five years every graduate becomes computer savvy.

Though Goa is a late entrant in the arena of IT, it is all set to catch up with the situation. As per the e-Readiness Assessment Report 2004 published by the Department of Information Technology, Government of India, Goa is given the status of ‘Aspiring Leader’

E- GOVERNANCE SCENARIO
The Government of Goa has set two key strategic goals– Convenience and Integration. Regarding convenience, the Government aims to provide services anytime, anyhow and anywhere.It also aims at providing services that are integrated, customer-centric through whole-of government approach. As far as Goa is concerned, the fi rst stage of e-Governance, i.e. dissemination of department specifi c information, started way back in 1989 when NIC Goa was set up in the State. A few departments have gone in for computerisation of some of their functional areas with the help of NIC Goa. The computerisation during this period mainly focused on creation of databases for dissemination of information with accuracy and speed. Also, one could see some remarkable improvements in the computerised process over the manual process of functions. Today, Goa has comfortably positioned itself in the second stage of e-Governance by offering department specific services to its citizens (G2C). It has also come out with a couple of G2G and G2E services.

G2C SERVICES

Land records (Form I & XIV): Goa is the fi rst state in the country to computerise 100% land records. The land records computerisation software called DHARANI is being used to issue the ROR (Record of Rights: Form I & XIV and Form D) instantly across the counter to the public from all the offices and Mahiti Ghars (Information Kiosks). All the offi ces are interconnected through a Statewide Network called GOANET which makes it possible to issue the ROR of any Taluka from any other Taluka or Mahiti Ghars. Touch screen based kiosks have also been installed at strategic locations to provide land records information in multilingual form to the people.

Municipal councils

The Municipal Administration Software implemented in all the 13 municipal councils in Goa facilitates online registration of births and deaths, issuance of births and deaths certifi cates across the counter, easy and faster collection of house tax, lease rent, trade licence fee and renewal of licences. It also helps in timely generation of tax bills, demand and warrant notices and in effi cient maintenance of taxpayer wise accounts. Since all the transactions are carried out online at any given time up-to-date status are available on various parameters.

Village panchayats

INFOGRAM software provides all government services to citizens at grassroots level in a faster and an effi cient manner. INFOGRAM provides various services like registration of births and deaths, house tax and light tax collection, lease rent collection, construction licences, and trade licences. All transactions are carried out online and hence up-to-date status is available on various parameters. INFOGRAM also provides services like issuance of Form I & XIV, issuance of various certifi cates like residence certifi cate, income certificate, character certifi cate, caste certifi cate etc., and issuance of NOC for water and electricity connection. Through INFOGRAM citizens can also get information on citizen charters of all Government departments, BPL schemes etc. So far INFOGRAM has been implemented in 22 village panchayats and is being rolled out in the remaining 167 village panchayats.

RTO

The Government of Goa has computerised the transport department.This has enabled the department to deliver its citizen oriented services in an effi cient manner. People in Goa are no longer required to wait in long queues or go through the middlemen to get their work done by the transport department. With the new system in place, learner’s licence can be obtained from the Mahithi Ghars after fulfi lling all the requirements. As a novel idea, the new vehicles can be registered by the dealers at their outlet itself. Smart card based driving licences are also being issued in order to make the system perfect. Efforts are on to make available the details of all the vehicles registered in Goa on web. This would help in quickly identifying the vehicles involved in crimes.

Courts

After the computerisation of the Panaji Bench of Bombay High Court and the district courts, the advocates and litigants are largely benefi ted by the information services provided by these courts. A Touch Screen Information Kiosk has been set up in the Panaji Bench of Bombay High Court to provide information to the public on fi nal orders, farad orders, judgements, acts, rules and regulations, court fees etc., The Touch Screen Kiosk software provides the user a very user-friendly query feature so that the user can query on various parameters like case number, party name, advocate, order date etc. Case related information are also available on the website. Preparations are on to computerise all the lower level (Block level) courts.

Though Goa is a late entrant in the arena of IT, it is all set to catch up with the situation. As per the e-Readiness Assessment Report 2004 published by the Department of Information Technology, Government of India, Goa is given the status of ‘Aspiring Leader’

Right to Information

The Right to Information Act 2005 is slowly getting popularised in Goa, and to meet the information requirements of the people the Government of Goa has launched a citizen portal for disseminating information under RTI Act 2005. The required information is electronically maintained in a central system and being updated from time to time by the Government departments.

G2G services

Computerisation of budget and accounts: The Government of Goa has taken keen interest in computerising the Finance Department and Directorate of Accounts (DOA) to provide G2G services with respect to budget and settlement of accounts. Budget Information System has been implemented in the Finance Department of Goa Secretariat. By capturing the details such as Expenditure estimates for the next year received from various departments and Actual expenditure,Revised estimates, Recovery, Receipt, Budget Account Head Information and the Supplementary budget requirement for the current year received from the DOA, budget for a financial year is prepared and electronically made available to the DOA. The DOA is the budget controlling authority for the Government of Goa. DOA has one Head offi ce and one Branch offi ce. There are two District Treasuries and 9 Sub Treasuries.

Software Systems have been implemented in DOA and Treasuries for bill processing, treasury accounting, works audit and compilation of accounts. There are several advantages of computerisation of DOA. Bills are cleared faster. Cheques are issued faster. Reconciliation of cheques is also done effectively. Availability of up-to-date Budget Control Register fi gures. Compilation of various accounts is done faster and all the accounts are closed in time. As the DOA and the District/Sub-Treasuries are interconnected it is possible to provide the receipts and payment fi gures on daily basis to the Finance Department.

G2E SERVICES

General Provident Fund

There are about 40,000 GPF subscribers in the State of Goa. GPF System has been designed to maintain their accountsup-to-date,  which includes monthly subscriptions, advances, refunds, withdrawals, interest calculation and fi nal payment. The GPF System has also the features to generate GPF slips, employee wise summary statement, statement of interest, DDO wise GPF subscription schemes, various reports and

Employee advances

Advances Management System is deployed to help the staff at the Loans and Advances section of DOA to effi ciently process the requests from the employees of the Government of Goa for various types of advances like HBA, MCA, Fan, Cycle etc., and to maintain up-to-date records. Advances Management System has the provision to check for availability of funds, pass the bills for advances, maintain up-to-date employee wise account, close accounts monthly and annually, calculate interest, issue No Dues certifi cate and to generate various reports and registers.

INITIATIVES TOWARDS INTEGRATED SERVICES

GOANET to Goa Broadband Network

No doubt, GOANET at present is acting as a backbone in providing various G2C services and G2B services. GOANET is a combination of 64 Kbps and 2 Mbps leased line circuit network connecting all the Taluka headquarters and a few Government offi ces. However, to integrate services of various Government departments and to take more services to doorsteps of the citizens it is necessary to have a large network with very high bandwidth. Government of Goa is all set to establish a Goa Broadband Network which is a opticfiber network under BOO (Build-Own-Operate) model. This network is expected to provide a bandwidth of 10 Gbps to the State, District and Taluka headquarters, 1 Gbps to village panchayats and 2 to 100 Mbps to each household depending on the need and demand. All the Government, semi-government organisations and corporations would be connected through 1 Gbps connectivity.

Mahithi Ghars and Citizen Service Centres

Government of Goa is planning to set up more Mahithi Ghars and around 200 Citizen Service Centres in the State under BOO model to provide various government services under one roof. Depending on the requirements the operator may provide some value added services to the citizens. In order to execute its e-Governance plan systematically, PWC and NISG have been appointed as consultants to the government. PWC has prepared the e-Governance roadmap and has identifi ed around 600 citizen and business oriented services for implementation. NISG has been advising the Government on Goa Broadband Network. Simultaneously with other activities, the Government departments, which have not been computerised so far, are going in for total computerisation. Applications are being developed for 32 departments. Online services can commence once the database is built through backend computing.

State Data Centre

A State Data Centre along with suitable Disaster Recovery (DR) Site is being planned to support the implementation of various e-Governance projects. It has been proposed to utilise NIC Data Centre at Hyderabad as DR Site.

State Portal

It is very much essential to have a single offi cial portal for the entire State of Goa to act as a single contact point for the services offered by the State of Goa. Through this portal, it is planned to offer, all informative, interactive, transactional and collaborative services to the citizen and business.

CONCLUSION

No doubt, efforts are being made to make Goa an ‘IT Destination’ and ‘e-Governance Leader’.However, this requires a strong political will and commitment irrespective of the political party that is in power. Continuity in the IT projects is very important for their success. They should not be scuttled for political reasons leading to wastage of taxpayers’ money. Bureaucrats/Government offi cials/Decision makers need to be proactive with altogether a different mindset suitable for this exercise. High priority and importance should be given to IT Projects. Process re-engineering in the functional areas and use of e-Governance standards will help to provide effective and scalable IT solutions. Citizens, instead of remaining as mute spectators, should legitimately demand for high quality and timely services in all fronts from the Government.

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