Interview

Setting New Benchmarks in Delivery of Government Services : M N Vidyashankar, Principal Secretary to Government, Department of Information Technology, Biotechnology and Science & Technology

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M N Vidyashankar joined Indian Administrative Service in the year 1982 and  served in the Ministry of Personnel and Public Grievances in Government of India.  He obtained an M.B.A. Degree from Harvard Business School, Harvard University, USA. Currently he is working as Principal Secretary to Government, Department of  Information Technology, Biotechnology and Science & Technology.

What is the approach adopted in implementing the state Mission Mode Project (MMP)? What is the progress of their implementation?

The Mission Mode Project (MMP) approach ensures that milestones are fixed at every step for every activity and monitored to ensure completion within the time lines. Every project implemented by the department has the trappings of the Mission Mode approach and the state has succeeded in each of them.

How would you rate your state’s progress towards making it an e-Ready state?

Karnataka has had the best run up in its e-Readiness. The e-Penetration is not confi ned or   restricted to urban areas alone but are equally spread in the rural areas. We are just waiting for the Karnataka State Wide Area Network to be in a position to deploy all the remaining initiatives, which are at different stages of implementation. The customer services rolled out across the state have no parallels. Nemmadi has set new benchmarks in delivery of services in the rural areas and has received accolades, both nationally and internationally.

What are the business opportunities for the private
sector in implementing the various e-Governance projects running in your state?

Public Private Partnership is the most preferred model for implementation of e-Governance   projects in Karnataka and to name a few, BangaloreOne, Nemmadi, and e- Procurement are implemented on the PPP model. Hence we can visualise a bright future for the private sector in the coming days. Apart from implementation, private companies have signifi cant  opportunity in providing consultancy services, capacity building, software customisation, IT facility management and so on.

What are some of the best PPP practices in your state?

Few of the best practices we have adopted are:

  • Adoption of BOOT model.
  • Built in SLA’s to ensure the quality of services, to meet the timelines.
  • Well defi ned exit management plan.
  • IPR of the software applications developed by the PPP partner will lie with government.

What are the services that are being delivered/planned to be delivered through Common Service Centers (CSCs)? What are the steps being taken for a better user experience?

At present we have a project called as “Nemmadi” under which 763 rural telecenters are  setup to cater the needs of the rural population. These centers are established to deliver  various G2C and B2C services at the villages so that the farming community need not have to  travel to towns. The services could be broadly classifi ed as Record of Rights, Tenancy and  Crop Inspection (RTC) services and at present we are delivering 37 services through these  centers. To mention a few, RTC certifi cates, caste certifi cates, birth certifi cates, income  certifi cates and many such certifi cates are delivered. These Nemmadi telecenters could be  later converted as CSCs.

Under CSCs we have plans to deliver G2C, B2C and B2B services. It could be issue of land records, various certifi cates to DTP works, web surfi ng to railway ticket booking to promotions and data entry jobs to name a few.

What are the evaluation and monitoring techniques
you are adopting to monitor the progress and to assess whether the proposed benefi ts are being delivered to the citizens?

For all the projects we have a very effi cient Management Information System (MIS) which  provides online reports at various levels. We closely monitor the projects through these  reports on whether the projects are progressing as per the targets set. Apart from this we have  committees at various levels viz., steering committees, project monitoring committees,  empowered committees to review the progress. These committees are typically headed by the  Chief Secretary and Additional Chief Secretary depending upon the project.

What are your state’s key achievements in implementing e-Governance projects?

Bhoomi: Bhoomi is about Computerised Land records Management and under this project 20   million records of 6 million farming families are computerised. The latest RTC documents are issued to the farmers instantly.
BangaloreOne: With 18 centers spread across Bangalore city, it has registered more than a crore transactions within a span of less than 3 years. BangaloreOne caters to the needs of urban population of Bangalore delivering G2C and B2C services round the clock.
Nemmadi: Under this project 763 telecenters are setup at hobli level to deliver the services to the rural population. At present 37 services are delivered through these centers.
KSWAN: This project is to provide connectivity from state’s capital to the districts and then to taluks and tehsils. This will facilitate interactions i.e. horizontal as well as vertical by way of transferring text, video and voice based fi les.
e-Procurement: All procurement processes including indent management, rate analysis, supplier registration, tendering, contract management, catalogue management and payments will be handled electronically end-to-end in the envisaged unitary e-Procurement platform. The system – which is being implemented in Private-Public-Partnership (PPP) mode  is now piloted by a few government agencies and in a phased manner it will be implemented in all government agencies in the next few years. With the implementation of e-Procurement, back-and-forth communications with contractors including bid submission, receipt and refund of payments will be done electronically.
HRMS: Human Resource Management System is being implemented in the state where in    database of 6 lakh employees is being created. This will probably be the biggest live employee data in the country.

What are some of the challenges that you are facing in implementing the e-Governance projects? How are they being overcome?

Some of the challenges that we have been facing in implementing e-Governance projects are as follows:

a. Convincing the departments to participate in e-Governance projects.
b. Non availability of centralised databases of the departments.
c. Lack of connectivity within the departments and between the departments.
d. Poor maintenance of IT infrastructure at the departments.
e. Non availability of data in digital formats.
f. Lack of IT capacity among the staff of various departments.
g. Non standard procedures and practices.
h. Non compliance to interoperability.
i. Lack of inter-departmental coordination.
j. Inconsistency of the data due to multiple datasets created by different departments.

What is going to be your main focus for the next few
years?

The main focus areas are going to be:

1. Re-writing Bhoomi utilising the latest available technologies and resolving existing issues like integration with other departments and management of a distributed system.
2. Expansion of integrated citizen services centres network throughout the state in both rural and urban areas.
3. Commissioning the Karnataka State Wide Area Network and building applications leveraging on this connectivity like e-Offi ce, less paper offi ce etc..
4. Implementing the integrated electronic procurement system across the state as a common and uniform system for procurement of all goods and services by the state.
5. Strengthening shared infrastructure like the State Data Centre for hosting databases and  applications of various departments and utilising this aggregation for delivery of services to  the citizens and for better sharing of information across the departments.

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