April 2013

Creating better infrastructure for e-Governance

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Sanjiv Mital
Sanjiv Mital
CEO, National Institute of Smart Government (NISG)

As India attunes itself to the knowledge-led world economy, e-Governance has come to the forefront. For more than 10 years NISG has been engaged in providing services for effective e-Governance implementations in various government departments in centre and the states.

What is your Vision for NISG? What is the mandate and how do you plan to take the mandate for the NISG?
A not-for-profit company incorporated in 2002 by the Government of India, the National Institute for Smart Government (NISG) is a specialised organisation that works to develop understanding of the various nuances of e-Governance. NASSCOM, Government of India and Government of Andhra Pradesh are the promoters of NISG; ILFS, Government of Chhattisgarh, Government of Meghalaya and Vizag Municipal Corporation are the other stakeholders. The mission of NISG is to facilitate application of Public and Private Resources to e-Governance in the areas of solution and network architecture, consultancy and training. We basically play the role of providing guidance and other assistance to various government departments that are keen to develop e-Governance solutions. We extend help for development of e-Governance to central and state level government departments. Many government departments lack requisite expertise in e-Governance. They need advice on the tasks that need to be re-engineered and automated, on the manpower and technology related resources that are needed and much more. So they seek assistance from an institution that can bring e-Governance to their department in a timely and cost-effective manner. This is the job thatNISG has been doing for last ten years. Forged as a public-private partnership, NISG offers the orientation and efficiency of the private sector combined with the accountability of the public sector. NISG is helping the Government of India and State Governments realize the national e-governance vision.

What kind of strategy does NISG use in ensuring that the e-Governance implementations happen in a timely and efficient manner?
NISG has contributed significantly to the growth of e-Governance that we see around us. We perform the task of what we refer to as strategic consulting; in this we look at any particular department and try to understand what its processes are, how these processes can be improved and finally what are the areas where a difference can be made through ICT implementations. At the end we come up with a detailed project report (DPR), which provides the details of all the transformations that can be engineered and also the cost for making that possible. Once the project has been conceptualised, the financial approvals for spending the money are taken. After that we go into the second stage of the project, where we try to find out who will implement the systems that are required for e-Governance. So we need to come up with an RFP, which gives a succinct overview of the scope of the work, the hardware and software that are required, the terms of payment and other things. After the bid process is over, the qualified vendor is selected. Then we have the third stage of the project, where we set up a programme management unit for addressing the various issues that can crop up during the implementation process. The programme management unit also performs the task of  interacting with the project owner in the concerned ministry and keeping them informed of the progress that is being made. Finally there is the fourth stage of the project, where we do capacity building. This entails training of lot of  people, doing change management and providing large amount of  anpower to the ministries and departments. 

The MCA21 Project is today regarded as a very successful e-Governance initiative. What kind of role has NISG played in this project?
We were the consultants right from the beginning, when the project MCA21 was initially conceptualised. We were involved in the process of deciding how this project was to be executed. Based on our internal studies we came out with a comprehensive RFP and thereby contributed to the selection of an appropriate agency, which then was TCS. We also created the Project Management Unit for monitoring the progress of the project. About a year ago when the contract with TCS was coming to an end, we were asked by the Ministry to make a study once again. So we relooked at the project and studied the ways by which we could handle the transition from one company to another. After that the RFP was floated once again. In this several companies participated and in the end Infosys emerged as the lowest bidder. Now we are helping in enabling a smooth transition from TCS to Infosys to take place.


“NISG STRIVES FOR EXCELLENCE AND LAYS GREAT EMPHASIS ON GENERATING VALUE FOR CLIENTS”


Do you think that e-Governance can be made more effective if you have the policy of ensuring that the same company manages the project for a longer period of time, because then you won’t have to manage the transition?
When a contract is given to an agency, what would be the right duration? Is five years good enough or 10 years good enough or is 15 years the right thing? What is the right duration? Initially the project MCA 21 was developed for a term of five years, which we then felt was a fairly long time. Now the experience shows that five years have gone by in a jiffy. So we keep learning from past experiences and then try to decide the maximum duration of each project.

You are also doing some of the work for CCTNs also. Tell us about it.
When the CCTNs project came up, we were the main consultants involved with the Ministry of Home Affairs. We were involved in deciding the various modalities of the project. We did our analysis and came up with criteria for the kind of scope the CCTNS project should have.

Tell us about the capabilities that NISG has developed in the area of capacity building.
Currently NISG is providing a one-year full-time residential Executive Program in e-Governance in order to contribute to the pool of professionals required in domain of e-Government in the Private Sector and Government. The program is envisaged to be implemented by support of Government and partnership of Private Companies, Consulting Organisations and selected reputed Educational Institutes in the country. We are also providing support for institution capacity building at State Level. As all States are not in a position to switch to e-Governance, NISG addresses the major gaps at State Government level. We fully understand the need for bridging the gaps in capacity building. For the successful implementation of Mission Mode Projects under NeGP in the country, NISG is keen to equip the State level Training Institutes to take up activities related to Capacity Building of States, like designing of course curriculum and imparting specialized training in e-governance.

What is your vision for the next five years, where you are seeing the organisation going?
Well, as NISG is a not-for-profit organisation, we are not prone to blindly chasing revenues. We work with the aim of developing e-Governance in the country. Whichever ministry or department we are working for generally provides us the payment for the services that we are rendering. Our consultants bring experience and expertise from industry, government and a variety of other backgrounds to enhance NISG’s consulting capability. To support our clients with far-reaching impact, we partner with the best consulting firms to develop e-Governance solutions for them. Our teams work with client staff at all levels, from the frontline to the senior-most, knowing what will work and how to make it happen.

 

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