December 2010

End of the pillar-to-post runs

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One-window citizen services can be a reality can be a reality—the first step is to set up an interdepartmental data exchange.
Urban service delivery in Indian cities is fragmented due to multiple entities. Further, e-Governance initiatives in different departments are carried out independent of each other, which dilutes the impact of the initiatives. Even though IT is on the agenda of all departments, an integrated approach to its rollout and effective sharing of information and IT infrastructure is lacking. The present e-Governance initiatives need to be looked at from a service management perspective where information exchange among various departments is a vital element for service delivery and support assurance to the end customer, the citizen.

A peek into the scale of operations

The Department of Registration and Stamps has a presence in all the states and is the second highest revenue earning department in most of the states. In a large state like Maharashtra the department has more than 400 offices managed by over 2,500 employees, according to the department’s official Website. The department is primarily responsible for registration of documents under the Registration Act, its mandate being the registration of deeds or instruments and their preservation. The registration process encompasses the sub-functions such as receipt generation, valuation, recovery of evaded stamp duty, refund of excess stamp duty, adjudication and issuing of notices.

As per statistics posted on the Website, in Maharashtra alone close to 2.2 million documents have been registered and of Rs 5,000 crore has been handled. Approximately 8 million people are direct beneficiaries of the services annually in the state. The above figures give an idea of the user base in allied departments. This calls for a comprehensive and innovative application of the public-private partnership to improve the quality of service given to millions.

The above figures give an idea of the user base in allied departments. This calls for a comprehensive and innovative application of the public-private partnership to improve the quality of service given to millions.

Need to create a single touchpoint

The functions of Department of Registration and Stamps mainly cover two things—an endto- end process where documents are finally registered to close a deal, and beginning of another set of processes where the end-user initiates updating of a record with multiple departments.

These processes cut across multiple departments and even touch upon IGR itself for certain validations and checks before the final document registration takes place. Further, these interdepartmental touch points often result in lot of rework for end users as well as for the concerned departments.

The touch-point departments include urban local bodies, utilities like electricity and telephone, land records and survey departments, RTO, postal departments and so on.

There are implementation challenges when we think of a common solution and define processes to cover all the services. The primary reason is that IT implementations are carried out at the process level of a department while the individual initiatives are at different levels of maturity. As a result, the dependent information from other departments for citizen users has to be provided by users themselves. This leads to multiple handoffs of the data and manual efforts by the user as well as the department. It is important that a user gets to use the service through a single touch-point without being forced to visit different departments.

A transformation is needed

The intent of e-Governance is to accelerate the current processes by automating them and making them accessible to the end-user. Accessibility to the end-user is still in infancy in majority of cases, and interdepartmental information sharing can transform the process performance. It will also lead to value enhancement for both the process owner department and the customer of the process.

It is equally important to provide a seamless navigation and maintain the linkage of identities created for a user with each provider. This can be achieved in a phased manner.

Today, a citizen user is required to work with multiple processes in different departments to get the records updated. This leads to a series of rework loops for gathering information and updating the records. It’s ironical that departments have got the processes IT enabled partially but the cycle time of transactions carried out has not improved significantly. The diagram outlines how a new IT solution can transform the process wherein the online information exchange among departments accelerates the overall transaction and significant reduction in rework is achieved.

With the transformed process, a user can log on to an application and get the required validations done from other departments in order to avail a desired service. Conversely, in order to fulfil a service request received, the provider department can also get the required validations done from other departments in order to fulfil the requested service.

Once the service catalogue is defined and adopted by the provider departments, the interdepartmental data exchange process shall lead to reduction in overall transaction time.

This process transformation will require some decision making to bring out certain changes to existing infrastructure or to put a new infrastructure in place in some cases. Some of the key elements would include a GIS mapping of assets in city limits, IT implementation in utilities departments covering municipal limits, and creation of citizen and assets data at municipal corporations.

For instance, in the current scenario a potential real estate customer doesn’t have the information to start his search or plan his visits. An integrated data exchange and geo referencing solution shall facilitate retrieval of all the information based on the area of interest to the customer in a given city. The user can query for highlevel details and submit a service request for specific details, which can be shared on the payment of prescribed fees to the concerned department.

The solution requires a robust workflow management tool to be able to interface with organisational hierarchy and spatial information database.

Such initiatives will bring in a variety of benefits for citizens in terms of improved quality and transparency of information, expeditious response to queries and complaints, and single-window service for all their requirements.

The benefits for departments will include shortened service fulfilment cycles, optimised IT infrastructure, improved interdepartmental teamwork, and reduced paperwork.

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