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We are paperless, are you?

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Sindhudurg has become the first district in the country to successfully integrate the entire Revenue Administration from Tehsil level to the Collector Office using e-Office. Marching ahead, the district has stepped into era of m-Governance. Virendra Singh, Collector & District Magistrate, Sindhudurg unfolds the success story in conversation with Nikita Apraj, ENN

Please tell us about your journey from a conventional government office to a paperless office
The first thing we see when we enter a government office is papers and files, piled high on desks. Physical files have been a part of government since ages. This positively needed a change in the modern era.The transition from a typical government office and a typewriter-based system to a modern-day office with seamless connectivity and total process integration was a daunting task for the administration. But this was handled effectively with meticulous planning and a steady and persistent approach.The change started one and a half year ago when we used n-Computing to provide computers to the staff to make them computer-friendly. We made Unicode and emails mandatory. We proceeded in a phased manner for the implementation of e-Office –
• Business Process Re-engineering
• Resource Gap Analysis and covering the gaps
• Infrastructure Gaps
• Human Resource Gaps
• Change Management and implementation
Business Process Reengineering (BPR): The entire system was overhauled through the BPR.We identified more than 2300 subjects and graded them into Basic, Primary and Secondary processes. Ideal work flow for each process was documented. Over 25,000 files were consigned to record rooms. All current files with about 11 lakh pages in total were scanned and migrated to e-Office.Resource Gap Analysis and covering of the Gaps: The infrastructure and the human resource gaps were identified and filled up in a phased manner to ensure the smooth implementation of e-Office.Change Management and launching of the e-Office: Effective change management was equally important in creating the best governed office. Change was tackled by following a strategy of continuous training and motivating people.Selecting e-Office champions helped manage the change by training and personal example.

How did you leverage ICT and support from other government agencies?
The delivery of services to the citizens in a time-bound, effective and transparent manner is not possible without the necessary changes in the fountainhead of the delivery i.e. the government offices from where these services are provided. To achieve this we used the IT extensively. Before the implementation of the e-Office few major noteworthy IT interventions were undertaken in the district. These interventions changed the mindset of the staff and also put the administration on fast track through effective monitoring mechanisms. Some of the noteworthy ICT interventions appreciated at various levels are-
1. Tappal (Post) Monitoring system
2. File Journey Management System
3. Weapon License Management System
4. District Planning & Development Council
Work Monitoring System.
5. Collector’s Meeting Monitoring system
6. Tree plantation monitoring system
7. Collector’s Note Response System
8. Sindhu-Samadhan Citizen Grievance Monitoring Software
9. Non-Agriculture Permission and Status Monitoring System
10. District Website with citizen interface

Use of ICT enabled citizens monitor the status of their applications online or through citizen facilitation centres. The other departments followed the trail by motivation and demonstrations. Enthusiasm and positive results encouraged the NIC to be more proactive in creating a model of e-Office implementation for the entire country. The Department of IT, Govt of Maharashtra under the stewardship of Mr.Rajesh Aggarwal, Secretary steered the e-Office implementation efficiently at each stage.The continuous follow up from the Mr.Jayant Kumar Banthia, Chief Secretary and Mr.Swadheen Kshatriya, Addn. Chief Secretary,Revenue further facilitated the implementation.It was a wonderful team effort with constant guidance and encouragement from top that the support from all the agencies came forth


As per a study,on an average
• A paper document is photocopied 19 times
• Paper files get doubled every 3.5 years
• Paper usage in an average office grows 22
  percent a year and doubles every 3.3 years
  which keeps adding new filing cabinets and
  resources to manage them
• A letter has to pass through almost 41 steps
  and entered in dozens of registers before being
  answered
• At any given time about 3-5 percent of a large
organisation’s files are lost or misplaced
• Half of the office’s time is spent in handling
paper or manual data entry
• Over 92 percent of information is in manila
folders
• Protecting and preserving the files is another
challenge. In an unforeseen event such as fire, no
backups are available for the physical files.

e-Office has proved a solution to most of these woes. e-Office is aimed at improving internal
efficiencies in an organisation through electronic administration.


What infrastructure you have installed and what were the costs incurred?
Covering the infrastructure gaps was one of the major tasks and the infrastructure included the following-
• Computers for each desk
• Power back up UPS for all the computers
• Laptops for the Heads of Departments with VPN facility
• Heavy Duty Scanners for all Offices.
• Printers for the Central Registry Units
• Digital Signatures for all the employees
• Internet and LAN connectivity in all Offices
• Upgrading the RAM of all old computers to minimum 2 GB.
• Training and Data Entry Centres at each Office for continuous training.
Along with the efficient use of existing resources, new hardware was procured through the DIT. The NIC supplied the digital tokens,
the software of e-Office with requisite modifications and the resource persons for a period of 6 months to do the needed hand-holding.The overall cost of the project worked out to approximately Rs 1.25 Crores including the one-time charges by NIC Delhi.

Transforming to a paperless office was certainly not easy.How did you manage this shift?
The change management in any large project which changes the set pattern of working in vogue for centuries is not an easy task. We did have our share of problems and issues which were tackled in a planned manner. The switch over to the e-Office was done once the staff was mentally ready.We ensured that the employee is the focal point of each intervention aimed at change.Healthy competition between branches and demonstrations had its part to play in change management. We also declared employee of the month with their photo published on the website to encourage the employees to work harder

How going digital has helped you work more efficiently as a District Collector?
e-Office has helped improve transparency and accountability, preserving documents, quick and timely disposal of cases, monitoring pending cases and ascertaining the cause and level of delay, finding the exact location of the letters and files, monitoring of each employee from a single point, appointment and tour planning, effective leave management system and an overall control of office.
This enabled me as District Collector to have closer and effective control over the working of the revenue administration. The facility to pull a file or a letter by the seniors in hierarchy ensures greater control over the work. The concept of ‘Administration from anywhere’has become a reality. With the VPN over internet one can clear the files from anywhere.The system has given the District Collector a magic wand for effective working.


eHEALTH June Issue Announces Exclusive Coverage of Top Medical Colleges, Top Cardiologists & Top HIS Solutions Effective and continuous training ensuring personalised attention to each employee
• The pattern of training on the basis of existing system so that employees felt least change
• Identification of e-Office champions at all offices
• Supervisory responsibility to senior officers
• More emphasis on the utility to employees and reducing their work burden
• Using of e-Buddy system to pair up weak employee with knowledgeable one
• Effective trouble shooting to ensure high morale
• Preparation of manual of the e-Office in Marathi for ease of usage

How you have ensured that e-Governance in your district is citizen-friendly?
Service delivery can only be improved with improved functioning of the government offices. Each letter arriving at the office is given
a unique number and scanned and stored forever on the system. The citizens can monitor the status of their application using the letter number. No paper gets misplaced or lost.Parallel e-governance initiatives have decreased the need of travelling to government
offices as all information is available on the district website which can be accessed from Gram Panchayat Sangram Centres. Various services have been made available at the Sangram Kendras. The increased work efficiency of the employees also ensures quick disposal of the applications and letters, making administration more responsive and citizen-friendlyWhat will be your next step towards providing the best e-government to the citizens?
We aim to work out a citizen interface for e-Office to ensure that the citizens know the status and action being taken on their applications and letters.Our aim is to open up the administration for public in the most effective manner. Also we have ventured into mobile office which is first of its kind to be implemented in the country.Sindhudurg today has come up as a centre or Administrative excellence and Administrative Tourism and has been the first district to herald the arrival of the two-centuries-old institution of the District Collector into the era of modern Governance.

 

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