January 2013

Meeting the Demands of the Public through e-Governance

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ICT can serve as a big enabler by providing the tools that can facilitate better service delivery by myriad departments and thereby meet the expectations of the public

Sanjay Malhotra,
Secretary, Department of Information Technology & Communication,
Government of Rajasthan

e-Governance is basically about the new ways in which services can be delivered to the public. Today we are witnessing a huge rise in the expectations that the public has from the government, municipal administration and from all the bodies of government. It is immensely challenging for us to cope up with the rising expectations.

The country is in the middle of a catharsis, as the Civil Society is demanding more and more from the government. The government in turn is trying its best to live up to the expectations of the common citizens of the country. In such an environment of rising expectations, ICT can serve as a big enabler. It provides us with the tools that can facilitate better service delivery by myriad departments and thereby meet the expectations of the public.

All of us present here have definite roles to play – the role for those of you from the private sector is to maximise profit and the role of those from the government is to deliver services to the public. But ultimately, we are all citizens of this country, and we too are amongst those who will derive benefits from ICT initiatives of the government. So despite the position we may occupy, it is in our interest to keep implementing new innovations in governance.

If you are not replicating, the process of implementing new ideas in e-Governance can become very long

Mantras of e-Governance
For both the public and the private sector who are working for the government, the field of e-Governance is fraught with challenges.  Software development is very complex, tedious, time-consuming, requirement gathering, etc. So replication becomes important. The successes that we have had lately have been faster on the replication side. Arogya Online is a wonderful example of replication of software. The software was already running in one of the private hospitals in Maharashtra and we replicated it in Rajasthan.

In e-Procurement, we are using e-Tendering which is software of the National Informatics Centre (NIC). We are replicating the success  of e-Office, which is again an NIC product. Along with replication, knowing your requirement is also very important. You have to tell them what you want. This is generally absent. When we want to do something, we just do it for the sake of doing it or it comes more from the side of the people who are selling it. The project shouldn’t be vendor-driven.

If you are not replicating, the process of implementing new ideas in e-Governance can become very long. You have to start with business process re-engineering. The thing is that software development takes time. Lot of changes have to be made. We also need to change the mindset of the people who are going to use the new ICT based systems. We have taken certain measures to reduce the time. We have tried to adopt the philosophy of not trying to re-invent the wheel. This cuts down drastically about 60-85 percent of implementation.

Urban development
As the cities are growing, problems of pollution, traffic, garbage collection, municipal services, etc become larger. As more and more population is coming to cities, it becomes more important to deliver those services through a seamless online process.

The pressure  on municipal bodies and other bodies is increasing with growing population. And there are many areas where IT can be used. For example, Andhra Pradesh is using IT for efficient garbage collection, whereby they are using mobile technology and photographs to monitor if the concerned people are doing their job.

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