January 2011

It’s time for a beta

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All the e-Governance cogs have been put up; now the testing phase can’t be far away

The objective of e-Governance is to bring to citizens governance that is efficient, accountable, inclusive and reach out to all in a convenient and effective manner. e-Governance also eradicates corruption, one of the biggest monsters we battle in the country, by providing transparent governance.

Given the recent spate of scandals, coupled with the fact that political parties are learning that good governance is good politics too, we see a definite trend moving towards greater emphasis on e-Governance.

Business process re-engineering (BPR) and the use of ICT, two of the most important aspects of e-Governance, can bring around the much needed changes and improvisation in the way government functions and delivers services to its citizens.

Banish the thought that e-Governance is only for governments. It cuts across all the fields, be it health, education, business, skill-building, ushering in an era of better services, better management and faster growth as a whole for the nation. This enables overall efficiency and these industries in particular are likely to strengthen their e-Governance initiatives.

However, it is in the macro perspective where the average Indian citizen benefits, is where we will likely see maximum action. With the right structuring that has been put in place under the National eGovernance Plan (NeGP) in terms of integrated Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) and the various components like core infrastructure (SDC, SWAN, CSCs), capacity building, awareness and assessment, along with the necessary operational guidelines and institutional framework, the foundation for the success of e-Governance has been laid. Fruits of this will be realised in the subsequent years in incremental fashion.

Further, the adoption of public private partnership (PPP) model will gather steam. The little progress made so far has ensured that the domain expertise of various government departments and its officials and the implementation and operational expertise of the private sector coming together is an effective way to achieve the desired results.

So, what will be the five governance issues in 2011?

  • Putting the e-Governance service delivery framework, comprising infrastructural components like SDC, SWAN and CSCs, state portal and SSDGs to test by connecting all the pieces together, pretty much like a jigsaw puzzle, to deliver services to citizens in a manner that is scalable, repeatable and inter-operable.

  • Ensuring timely completion of infrastructure pieces so that other e-Governance projects banking on the availability of those pieces could go as per schedule. The focus should be not just on completion of these infrastructure projects, but on seeing to it that they are operationally sound.

  • Making CSCs self-sustainable, so that their desired objective of extending the reach of government services to the common man is not just a touch-and-go affair, but a permanent fixture.

  • Speeding up service delivery through faster execution and better monitoring and management of timelines, resources and escalation mechanisms. The government is currently developing a strategy for extending the current infrastructure and bringing in cloud technologies so as to achieve the ultimate outcome of offering service to various government departments for quickly rolling out their individual department’s applications and services.

  • Ensuring inter-operability and adherence to the standards and guidelines being rolled out. In the absence of the same, even the successful e-Governance projects will remain in silos and the ultimate goal of e-Governance will fall short of expectations. The need is to create a comprehensive and integrated service delivery management framework to carry out SLA management, reporting and monitoring.

We do, however, need to appreciate that e-Governance is not a one-year issue. It is something that will roll on and strengthen over time. In the light of this it makes sense to share a broader vision.

With the various pieces of the jigsaw puzzle put together and with appropriate processes, policies and technologies in place to take care of any exigencies, it can be ensured that services are delivered to citizens and other stakeholders at the desired service levels.

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