February 2007

Effective eGovernance for good governance

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District Online Smart Transactions (DOST) – India an exclusive national seminar on e District Mission Mode Project (MMP)  has been organised by Government of Andhra Pradesh (AP) in association with Department of Information Technology, Government of India. The seminar was held on 11th January 2007 at Dr. MCRHRD Institute, in Hyderabad, as  part of the three day IT expo event GITEX-India 2007.

The meet mainly targeted to modulate a reliable strategy based on the successful models and that is replicable at all levels of the country's administration – village panchayat to block levels and, taluks to district levels. 

The inaugural session

The session started with video film on 'DC Suite' of Palakkad district, Kerala and 'Jan Seva Kendras' of Gandhinagar district, Gujarat, both an ICT enabled service delivery centres reaching the people with wider impact.

The formal welcome address was delivered by K. Ratnaprabha, Principal Secretary, IT&C, Government of Andhra Pradesh.

R. Chandrasekhar, Additional Secretary (eGov), DIT, Government of India setting the tone for the seminar was eloquent on need based services. He said “common man in India looks forward for government services with lot of expectations and it is essential to have a sustainable governance that adopts best of the e-Enabled practices to maintain perennial flow of further improved services that come with an increased ICT literacy and awareness levels.

Since state governments are unable to deal with them in bulk quantity, district administration can do justice to them by putting a little extra effort to build a systematic condition and collate and bring out projects that are quick, painless and accessible and, workout on the ingredients that make it sustainable. He urged officers to work with fire in the belly and achieve the set target tasks within the tenure period to leave a marking impression that necessitates certain qualities like 'trust' and 'tracking abilities', developing leadership at various levels of political, bureaucratic and technocratic structure. He urged on capacity development to implement the initiatives and projectise them. He also stressed on the criteria for success and set the two indicators for evaluation: (i) number of digital services available in remote areas and (ii) percentage of people having the ability to access them at village level. He emphasised that any e Gov initiative should exist beyond the tenure of the initiator. We can achieve this only by bringing all the stakeholders round a table and discuss, as is now happening in this seminar.

The chief guest  J.Harinarayan, Chief Secretary, Government of Andhra Pradesh  asked to understand thoroughly where India stands now at eGovernance and get organised for moving further up the eGov readiness index.

The inaugural session concluded with a vote of thanks by  P.Raghuveer, Additional Secretary (eGov), Government of Andhra Pradesh who urged the practitioners and stakeholders to work on the prioritisation of the services that should be covered mandatorily under the proposed eDistrict MMP. He enumerated the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and said that ICT tools have to be used within that framework so as to reach the goals by 2015 as planned.

Panel Discussion

After a brief break a panel discussion on 'Conceptual Framework of eDistrict” was initiatied under the chairmanship of  R.Chandrasekhar, Additional Secretary who highlighted several successful eGovernance projects. He advocated for using the most modern technologies suitable for the time. He deplored that most of the e-Governance processes were not designed for the convenience of the citizens, but for the convenience of the administrators. The e-District MMP is a major initiative being started with one or two districts in each state on a pilot basis and it would aim to enhance at providing most of the government services electronically at the doorstep of the citizens

Suman Billa, Collector of Palakkad district of Kerala state made his presentation based on experience of the implementation of the project 'DC (District Collectorate) Suite'. It highlights the concept of paperless office maintaining an effective networking of G2G, G2C, and G2E communication between and among the various governmental departments, public and the employees respectively. The architecture framework of the suite is divided into 'back office modules', 'middleware intranet services' and e-Services (front end services)'. A communication network mode named 'Tappal' is adopted here that gives lateral value addition to the entire system.

Sanjay Jaju, Commissioner, MCH, Hyderabad talked from the perspective of 'Rural Service Delivery'. Highlighting with the backdrop of West Godavari, District of AP state, he said rural areas suffer from knowledge gaps, weakening them further and, resulting in aggregation of poverty. Hence it requires a citizen centric move to empower citizens through IT. The factors required to be looked into are: what is needed, how it can be done, how should it be, services, economics, training and education. What is the need for the hour is to convert villages as knowledge hubs.

The implemented project is called SMART (Simple, Moral, Accountable, Responsive, Transparent, Governance). It offers services like grievance cell, tele-education, issuance of certificates, dues clearance services like taxes and electricity bills, pensions, land records, civil supplies, auctions, online registrations, local entrepreneur details, tourism bookings, matrimonial services etc.

The key factors that contributed to success of SMART are breaking the big tasks into small do-able tasks, encouraging multiple stake holders, educating and sensitising citizens, providing solutions from demand side rather than supply side.

Dinesh Tyagi, CEO, IL&FS, New Delhi conceptualised his talk from the perspectives of the proposed Citizen Service Centre.  It mainly inquires into the fact what a man residing in a village needs. eDistrict basically functions at collectorate level of the administrative structure and eGovernance is institution based, process oriented service, based on user centric needs. eDistrict functions under three criteria  'regulatory', 'developmental' and other 'general law and order'. Here, Collectorate needs to develop inclination to put services for social upliftment and economic benefit. R&D approach should be adopted for the functioning of eDistrict which calls for a process of re-engineering based on the needs of user end citizens to enhance their capacities.

Y.K. Sharma, Dy. Director General, NIC, New Delhi explored the contours of a  Sustainable eDistrict initiative. He talked on types of challenges being faced service delivery Industry, and asked to identify the kind of services  that need to be delivered at different levels. Identify and interact with vertical government service providers (GSP) that have a capacity to reach clientele/beneficiaries and, linking them to the socio-economic status, ability to pay, working on entrepreneurship mode duly ensuring sustainability.

Prof. Subba Rao Ghanta, President, IEG spoke on 'Jawahar Internship Programme (JIP) and Architectural Solutions for Effective Service Delivery supporting Change Management'. He stressed on JIP partnership model where industry, education and government are collaborating partners in progress. In comparison to other technological and technical institutes Jawhar Knowledge Centre (JKC) runs on a novel approach of grooming its students to become responsible citizens. It builds a civic sense in them to do service to their society through application of science and technology. Under the JIP, it provides a rare opportunity for them to work closely (ten hours a week) in the adopted villages that generates substantial and authentic feedback to work further on e Services.

Dr.Vijayashree, Faculty, CCDM, MCRHRD Institute, Hyderabad gave her presentation on Revamping Delivery systems'. She gave voice for cutting edge employees where eTools and systematic approach coupled with right administrative will was highlighted with the prioritisation of health and welfare issues.

Interaction with floor

Following the panel presentations, the session was opened for interaction with the participants. There were certain suggestions for speakers. To a question why the success of  West Godavari district could not be replicated in  East Godavari,  Jaju answered that no single solution can be mandated for development. Though a model may be successful in West Godavari, it has to be skillfully adopted while transplanting to other district by priortising the issues of the region. It requires little bit of initiative and leadership. Only doable tasks in small proportion should be undertaken after a concrete plan, duly involving all the multiple stakeholders. The successful model of West Godavari can be established as a PAN India model to replicate to other parts of the nation as well.

There was a query on the need for linking awareness and capacity building to eDistrict as limitation to public connectivity was a cause of concern. Technology should be leveraged to benefits of the public. CSCs should be equipped to provide citizen and public services at government level as well.

Case studies- Track I

The afternoon sessions were divided into two parallel tracks consisting of case studies and brain storming on 'What should be the essential components of an eDistrict MMP'. The first session case-studies of track I was moderated and presented by Vikas Kanungo, Chairman and Secretary General of the Society for promotion of eGovernance, India. He also made a presentation on 'm-Government Enabling an Always-on district with Governance @24/7 delivered anywhere'. He explored the concepts of benefits of mobile (m) government, drivers of m-government, rate of penetration of mobile devices, ease of use for citizens, interoperability factors, ability to bring government close to citizens rather than taking citizens to computer, cheaper than computers and easy to use. The scope is wide on developing new imaginative angles of these enabling mobile technologies into the service of administration and e/mGovernance. He added that eDistrict is a state initiative at district level and appropriate action policy need to be framed.

The case study on 'Telebhuktan-IVRS based utility payment system' was presented by  Sanjay Dubey, District Magistrate of Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh. He emphasised on hassle free, cost effective and time saving broad based systems to facilitate the payment with flexibility from anywhere at all time.

'eJustice-Online Delivery of legal services' was delivered by  Vijay Karan Reddy, Sr. Project Manager CGG, Hyderabad. He emphasised on the need for simplifying the laws to the understanding capability of common man. Building a repository of such simplified version of complicated legal structure helps to spread awareness among citizens.

Case study on 'Use of e-Biometrics to strengthen service delivery system at grass root level' was presented by M.Thennarasan, DDO, Vadodara District of Gujarat. Biometrics refers to the automatic identification of a person based on his/her physiological or behavioral characteristics. This method of identification offers several advantages over traditional methods as it demands physical presence of the person at the time of identification. It ensures discipline, punctuality, quality of management etc  resulting in better output. The model can be replicated with certain degrees of flexibility.

The session was then opened for  interaction with the floor.A Query regarding the sustainability of telebhuktan model in the light  of limited number of users was raised.  Dubey replied that sustainability is ensured by way of collecting a minimum registration fee for certain period of time apart from transaction fee is collected from citizens for this service. In addition the government departments also pay a transaction fee for this service. He said the break even would be achieved with 5000 monthly transactions.

The second session of the Track I Case Studies was moderated by  Osama Manzar, Chairman of Manthan Awards. 'E-Content and Livelihood', based on a Local Area Portal (LAP), Dausa in Rajasthan was presented by him. He stressed on the importance and originality of the content and pleaded to link to the target group using ICT as an enabling medium.

Vikas Nath, Consultant, e-Governance, ICT and Knowledge Networks, Geneva  presented his case study on 'Does stronger E-Governance mean better governance and more doable Millenniun Development Goals (MDG)  Agenda?' and the 'international perspectives and implications for e-District' of State-level Mission Mode Projects. The presentation was based on the findings of UNDP, Electronic Discussion Forum held in November-December 2006 organised for European community. It substan-tiates with evidence that stronger eGovernance means better governance and more doable governments in MDG agenda.

For e-District Mission Mode Projects the following precautions have been suggested

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