November 2008

Personal Information Integration in e-Government

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At present Personal Information sharing among government departments and its agencies does not exists and there is an urgent need to not only accelerate information distribution, but also to broaden the scope of organisation that can share data.

At present, there is a greater stress on Information and Communications Technology (ICT), almost all the government departments, subordinate offices and government funded autonomous organisations have their own websites. The government has an inventory of more than a million different types of forms in different languages used for various transactions meant for improved efficiency and citizen services. Most of the government operations are isolated and processes are paperbound and finding a piece of information involves either searching a directory or employing a particular application. Also this information lead to redundancy, inefficiency and unnecessary expense

The integration of multiple pieces of personal information can only be done manually in this case. Also citizens are required to stand in long queues and seek assistance at multiple government offices. There is a need to use of electronic data processing in the day-to-day operations of government departments. The electronic form of this information is needed to distribute and share among Government departments and its agencies for efficiency and transparency, particularly in case of personal information. This can be done through data integration; it can be defined as the process in which dissimilar data, devices, and systems are joined to allow for operations under one similar framework. Data, integration is performed for many reasons, including improving operations efficiency, decreasing resources required to maintain a number of dissimilar systems, and providing data to end-users through one interface.

Some information sharing is already taking place in most governments. Perhaps one department provides a monthly compact disk of relevant data to another department, such departments data can be moved into the integration platform. Well-integrated systems and communication processes among multiple departments make government work more efficiently, effectively and securely. The ability of government departments to share information, integrate information and business processes by agreeing to use common standards is called interoperability. This ability will enhance the capability of departments to integrate information, technology and services across their boundaries, and to provide easy electronic access to government information and services.

Many governments are creating or created their State Data Centre (SDC), State Wide Area Network (SWAN) and Common Service Centres (CSCs) as a nodal points for front-end citizen service delivery for improving the quality, accessibility and effectiveness of the government services to the citizens and business with the help of ICT. Also to provide a common IT infrastructure for smooth and secure rollout of its e-Governance programs. Through the CSCs, the services like G2G, G2B and G2C will be accessible to the citizens, in a speedy, efficient and transparent manner and also ensuring that the right people get the benefits in right time.

For an instance, the eSeva is the initiative of Andhra Pradesh Government, India is a Public Private Partnership (PPP) offering single-window  or one-stop-shop service for over 66 G2C and B2C services of services including online payment of utility bills Electricity bills like Water and Sewerage bills, Telephone bills, Property Tax, Sales Tax and taxes. Issue of Certificates like Registration of Births / Deaths certificates and other facilitation services like change of address or ownership of vehicles through 46 eSeva centres with 400 service counters.

Need for PIS

For providing services or information to the citizens through multiple channels under single window, there is a need to integrate the Citizen’s Personal Information among the public and private sector departments/agencies for efficiency and transparency. It improves the interoperability of information and services at different government sites, making it easier for users to compare and combine information from different government sources in consistent and meaningful ways.

Personal information can be used to locate or identify an individual’s name, aliases, Social Security Number, Address and Driver’s License Number. It is needed for delivering integrated services (online/offline), achieving efficiency and effectiveness gains through better use of data, information or technology (especially across government departments and its agencies).

At personal information sharing among government departments and its agencies does not exists and there is an urgent need to not only accelerate information distribution, but also to broaden the scope of organisation that can share data. Personal information integration is needed for delivering integrated services (both online and offline), achieving efficiency and effectiveness gains through better use of data, information or technology (especially across government departments and its agencies); or generally increasing departmental capability or performance. This will help the government to communicate with each other smoothly.

Personal Information Integration reduces fraud, speed service and increase employee productivity. Using personal information integration among departments of the government and its agencies, not only to share key information across multiple departments but also to make better management and deeper insights possible with a more efficient use of resources across the state or central government. Also it provides accurate, current, and timely information for government initiatives. It improves efficiency, reduces costs and reducing redundancy data and improving automated interactions among the departments.

To implement effective Personal Information integration, a deep understanding and management of systems, information, policies, processes, security and change required between the citizens and stockholders. Co-ordination and integration of inter-governmental departments at all levels is critical to e-Government success. Necessary steps need to be put in place to ensure these issues are addressed.

The information sharing among departments should be complete, accurate, and timely manner from disparate sources without redoing the whole system. Unfortunately for most departments, however, this information is often unavailable, or is incomplete, inaccurate, or outdated. As a result, critical information is not always shared at key decision points in the government process. The personal information integration has become completely resolvable only in the last few years, with the advent of fully functional integration backbone platforms that support flexible data exchange and service service – oriented architectures. These platforms can be confi gured to allow all government departments, whether central, state, local or various combination of these entities, to share information and service across organisational boundaries.

CITIZEN IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM

The technology needed for Personal Information integration already exists with all the  governments. The data needs to be adopted in a joined-up approach for applying them more  effectively. The government should maintain a centralised Personal Information of a citizen  like their employees database by issuing a unique citizen identifi cation number, which can be  used for various Government services i.e also called Multi Purpose Citizen Identifi cation  Number (MPCIN). As and when a particular the citizen information required by any public  department/private department, in such case there is no need to capture citizen information  again, simply the department may get by using MPCIN since it is unique. In this case the  citizen has to update /delete the information as and when changes takes place. Once  government databases are integrated through a uniform ID, access to and uses of sensitive  personal information would inevitably expand. Law enforcement, tax collectors, and other  government agencies would want use of the data. Employers, landlords, insurers, credit  agencies, mortgage brokers, direct mailers, private investigators, civil litigants, and a long  list of other private parties would also begin using the ID.MPCIN is used for stemming fraud  and increasing effi ciency in large-scale civil applications such as public assistance, driver’s  licensing, voter registration, inmate verifi cation, national identity  and immigrant control.  It becomes a single source for departments/agencies which need to verify the identifi cation of  persons seeking benefi ts, services and identifi cation cards. Some governments are working on  National ID project, but it is need to be implemented as a full-fl edged project but not as a  pilot project.

CONCLUSION

The government should be confi dent in all aspects like piracy, security and even pressures from the citizens as well as politicians. The government has to decide whether departments  may collect the demographic information of the citizen individually by the states with a series  of security options or they may use one uniform standard that could lead to a National ID.

The technology is available in the market, but the government must be confi dent that they  can deal with security issues, administer and operate the system and have the scalable  technical infrastructure required for the effective exchange of Personal information of a  citizen across multiple government departments and its agencies. Once they are sure of their  capabilities, there are no limits to the amount of personal information that can be shared and  no boundaries on who can participate.

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