Interview

Effective Social Services : Adaire Fox-Martin, Public Services group for SAP’s

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As Vice President of the Public Services group for SAP’s Asia Pacific Division, Adaire Fox-Martin oversees the strategic direction and activities in the area of public services in the health, education and defence sectors across the region and executive relationships with customers and partners. Ms. Fox-Martin is a key member of the SAP leadership team and plays a lead role in delivering SAP’s offering to public secto­r customers. A respected thought leader, Ms. Fox-Martin continues to be invited at seminars and conferences by the media and analysts to address public services issues ranging from e-Government transformation and reengineering of Government processes to public service policies. She is regularly featured and quoted in numerous publications throughout Asia and Australia. Ms. Fox-Martin has over 20 years of experience in the field of information technology and management.

Effective e-Governance can take information technology (IT) to the common man, while helping Governments to regulate their services in line with the changing needs of both citizens and stakeholders, as well as develop the economy. Recognizing the growing importance of e-Governance and the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in public administration, we bring you a much needed, regular, interactive platform, where your questions on a pre-defined theme can be answered by Adaire Fox-Martin, Vice President, Public Services, SAP Asia Pacific and Japan.

In this issue, we focus on a few questions around “Effective Social Services” in light of the fact that delivery of social services through social insurance, social protection and social care programs through various institutional mechanisms at Central, State and Panchayat levels is one of the most significant result area for government. Effective delivery of social services is decidedly one of the key drivers for the government in winning and retaining the mandate to be in power through elections.

What are the major areas of social services where government participates? Is there a significant quantum of effort and finances involved?

Government social services manifest themselves in various ways, the key ones being social insurance, social protection and social care programs. In India, there are various mechanisms by which these services are delivered– provident funds (EPFO and CMPFO), state insurances,  housing schemes through HUDCO and NHB, programs of education, health and family  welfare through central ministry and state departments, and all the social benefi t schemes delivered through the panchayati raj and other institutions are some of the prime examples.  There are more than 200 centrally sponsored schemes and a similar number of State  schemes. The 11th 5-Year Plan (2007-2012) has laid a major thrust on social sector by  increasing the allocation to about 75% of the budgetary support from about 55% in the 10th  Plan. Expenditures of the GoI on social services have more than doubled over the last four  years. Apart from the fi nancial support, the institutional infrastructure and number of  schemes with its people and agencies involved have increased manifold. There is also an  increased emphasis on improving the social services indictors as well as initiating outcome  based budgets.

What are the key issues and challenges in the effective delivery of social services? Can ICT help in addressing the challenges?

It is a well known fact that only about a fourth of the funds meant for spending on social  services reach the actual benefi ciaries. This was once stated by an earlier Prime Minister of  India and was further validated by Planning Commission as well. There are leakages both on  account of administrative ineffi ciencies and corruption. It is not the quantum of funds but its  effi cient and transparent delivery that is critical for the success of various social sector  programs.

The other major challenge is the size of the agencies and manpower involved as well as the  number of benefi ciaries. Given the need for effi cient and transparent delivery through a  large chain of institutions, processes and people, it is imperative that government provides for  a comprehensive and integrated social services management solution which can provide a  common, open-standards based ICT platform to administer, monitor and analyze the  various programs. Such systems would be a good supplement or replacement to currently  fragmented or archaic systems.

Are there specifi c world class ICT solutions that can be
deployed readily to achieve quick benefi ts? What are the key components of such solutions?

Comprehensively integrated and readily available (enterprise applications based) ICT  solutions for social services are available with some of the world leading software providers.  These solutions have proven themselves and have been deployed at various levels of  government globally. They include central, state and local governments. Examples include  Coal Miners PF Organization, Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, UN Food Program, State of Hesse (Germany), City of Cape Town, Geuteng Shared Services Center (South Africa)  and Birmingham City Council. These solutions provide for legislative compliance, improved  quality of citizen’s life, effi cient management operations, and transformation of services and  payment delivery. The main components of these solutions include integrated applications for  outreach, relationship management, case management, grant and fund management,  and program execution. Importantly, these components work on a single view of the benefi  ciary. In this context, it is useful to note that the Universal ID project could be built around  the concept of single master data (including the management of BPL information) that serves  as the basis for leveraging the integrated social services applications.

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