In the midst of myriad of experiments, the project of e-Governed Municipal Corporation at Kalyan and Dombivli, the twin suburban cities of Mumbai stands out on their own for having created an example of use of Information Technology for betterment of administration and delivery of public services finally leading to Good Governance.
There are many experiments going on in India in various fields of activities There are many experiments going on in India in various fields of activities for introducing electronic governance in brick and mortar government organisations. Many of these have achieved tremendous success, even beyond expectations. ‘Bhoomi’ project in Karnataka and ‘E-Seva’ in Andhra Pradesh are two such examples of hugely successful e-governance projects. While the former relates to transactions of land records, the latter facilitates payment of various types of bills and some other allied activities. There are similarly other projects in the country which have attained success, while others are partially successful and the third category of projects are the ones, which have failed to achieve their objectives in their original form and intent.
In the midst of myriad of experiments, the project of e-Governed Municipal Corporation at Kalyan and Dombivli, the twin suburban cities of Mumbai stands out on their own for having created an example of use of Information Technology for betterment of administration and delivery of public services finally leading to ‘Good Governance’. KDMC serves a citizenry of about 1.3 million people to provide more than 100 civic services like water supply, electricity, urban infrastructure of roads, drainage, providing birth and death certificate and a host of other services.
In 2000-01, KDMC under the leadership of the then municipal commissioner Mr. Sri Kant Singh conceived to create a fool proof system driven corporation by using ICT as the prime facilitator, to provide electronic services to the people of the area in a transparent and accountable manner. The project was christened as KDNet (Kalyan Dombivli Network). Within two years, the corporation realised its objective and an e- Governed Municipal Corporation was inaugurated on 24th September 2002 by the Chief Minister of Maharashtra.
KDMC e-Governance programme has won several national and international awards. Success of the programme lies in the fact that Maharashtra Government has decided to replicate the KDMC programme in all other 146 corporations of the state. Goa also decided to enter into a collaboration with KDMC for introducing electronic governance at it’s Margao Municipal Council. Many municipal corporations in Maharashtra have also decided to enter into a memorandum of understanding with KDMC to help them out in facilitating e-Governance in their own jurisdictions.
So what are the necessary ingredients that have gone into making KDMC a successful experiment? Among other things, the following are some of the key areas that have essentially contributed to the success of KDMC.
Getting the organisation ready
First step in introducing e-Governance is getting the organisation and their employees mentally and physically ready for use of ICT and computers in the process of discharge of its functions. The role of the CEO of the organisation, namely the municipal commissioner is very important at this stage, who has to do several things at once. He would be required to do the following at least:
• draft a tentative vision of the e-corporation
• prepare a plan to involve all employees and other stakeholders
• identify people in his team, who will act as champions of the project
• to educate people about the possible benefits of e-Governance
• raise the hope of all the stakeholders towards better governance through ICT
• act as an evangelist
• start preparing for getting the necessary funds
• prepare for the next stage of action
• market the idea that e-governance forms part of a larger process of change and reform in bureaucracy
Writing a new mission and vision for the organisation
The municipal commissioner and his team developed a new philosophy to create an e-Governed municipal corporation by the use of the right blend of ICT and administrative reforms that would provide highest levels of transparency, accountability and service standards to the people coming to avail of the services from the corporation.
“We focussed on Administrative Reforms and designed our e-Gov system to bring about objectivity, transperency & accountability in decision making.”R. D. Shinde Commissioner, KDMC
Selecting the right team (S)
e-Governance activity is a project work, which takes 2-5 years to complete. Therefore there is a need to involve everybody in the exercise. In KDMC project, all the heads of the departments were the key resource persons to cater to their own areas of work. They were chosen as the champions of the project. A System Manager was appointed to look after the overall co-ordination and management.
Some of the team members were initially hesitant, but under peer pressure and under the pressure of the municipal commissioner, they all started showing positive vibes around the whole project. There was a feeling of being left-out, if they did not associate fully with the project.
Selecting a team of Experts (Think Tank)
One of the novel ways devised in this experiment was to select a team of experts from IIT Mumbai, VJTI, NCST and TIFR, who provided guidance on technical matters at various stages of the project and steered the project work from beginning till end. A mix of appropriate expertise available from different authorities therefore facilitated the work of expeditious commissioning of the KDMC project.
A ‘Big Bang’ approach in automation
Rather than going by the established wisdom that projects should be executed in a phase wise manner, KDMC adopted a bold ‘big bang’ approach. It went for an all pervasive computerisation of every function within the corporation to create an integrated IT enabled corporation.
Business Process Reengineering exercise for automation
One of the key requirements of a successful e-Governance project implementation is to review all the processes of the transactions and simplify them, wherever necessary to make them amenable to automation. In the case of KDMC, the visionary authorities not only did an excellent job in changing the processes, the whole exercise was clubbed with the broader process of ‘Administrative Reforms’. In trying to create an e-Governed council, the officers and others in charge visited all the systems and introduced changes wherever required. Using the right mixture of IT and administrative reforms, a solid foundation for good governance was laid at the KDMC. BPR was done along with organisation re-alignment, keeping in mind the convenience of the people and the location.
Developing service standards
One of the key changes made in the mode of the working of KDMC was to develop a proper service standard for all municipal services. While in the old system, there were no strict criteria laid down for delivery of services, in the computerised operations, it was possible to do time stamping on the transaction processes. It is easy to identify for example, as to when was the application submitted and where is it lying currently. A system of token number was developed, with the help of which the customer could himself see the progress of his file within the municipal organisation.
KDMC’s commitment on time-bound delivery of services has made a huge difference in the reputation of the organisation. An innovative and disciplined system has been established in all departments of the corporation, which delivers time-bound services to the citizens. Commitment has been made to deliver services like birth and death certificate, trade licenses and renewals, property extracts in 10 minutes.
Developing a proper IT Architectural plan
An architectural plan consists of a drawing of interconnection between different units of IT infrastructure; how hardware at different centers would interact with the process design of different departments.
At KDMC, powerful RISC UNIX servers at the headquarters have created a central datacenter, which is connected in real time to other connected locations. Other locations like ward offices, division offices, etc. are connected by LAN or WAN (leased line). The applications run on Oracle 9i as RDBMS and Oracle 9iAS as its Application server.
Help Desk at KDMC
Different locations are connected in real time, which ensures that citizens can access services from any of the CFCs. There is also a choice to avail of the services being delivered to homes and the citizens while filling-in forms have to make a choice to this effect.
KDMC has also virtualised the services in cyber-space. Their portal www.kdmc.gov.in is a self-managed space on the main servers in the HQ and provides 24×7 services to the citizens through Internet. Applications are all web-enabled, so that they can be accessed anytime from anywhere.
One of the six Citizen Facilitation Centres spread across Kalyan and Dombivli
Selection of software vendor
KDMC selected ABM Knowledgeware Ltd as their software vendor, after following the due procedure. The vendor happened to be a small software company, which had a proven track record in the filed of e-governance. The vendor was involved right from the stage of specification writing till implementation. The vendor also helped in drawing the specifications for the hardware.
Application Software has been designed in a three-layered architecture. The first layer, as the core, manages the procedural guidelines and Rule Based functioning of the corporation. This covers User Profile Management, Work-Flow Rules and Application Scrutiny Sheets etc. The second layer, as the Functional Systems Layer manages various departmental functions of the organisation. This covers function modules for property tax assessment, water connection and billing, market and trade licenses, food license, birth and death registration etc. Lastly, the third layer of the application software is the citizen services layer, which manages time bound service delivery for various citizen services, such as help-desk, citizen facilitation centers and enterprise information portal.
Citizen Facilitation Centres (CFCs)
There are six Citizen Facilitation Centres spread across Kalyan and Dombivli. These centers are well equipped with the necessary infrastructure to serve the citizens. Users can visit at any of these 6 centers to do any of the following:
• Make payments for all types of dues relating to electricity, water, property tax etc.
• Lodge complaints for services like water supply, drainage, roads, health etc.
• Request for all types of forms, registrations, certificates, permissions, NOCs etc. Enquiries can be made as to what documents are required for various transactions.
• Status of all applications can be verified through CFCs
Change management strategy
Change management strategy is an essential component of a successful initiation, running and making necessary changes in applications and other infrastructure. It encompasses users, employees and other partner agencies, which have to adjust to the new service delivery systems.
For the employees of the corporation, this was a big change. There was a sense of loss of power in the manner the user interface was developed. However certain things worked to ensure that employees actually delivered. Chief among them were:
• Senior officers of the corporation very frequently manned the counters, to send a message to the employees that the corporation was serious in making the change.
• Success in the electronic transaction boosted the morale of employees.
• Municipal corporators too participated in the activities, which boosted the morale of the employees.
• Involvement of the municipal commissioner ensured that the right message was sent to all concerned.
• Chief Minister of Maharashtra personally came to inaugurate the e-governance programme of the municipal corporation. Involvement of the top level political leadership ensured the success of the programme.
• Training of Employees- Employees were properly trained to handle customers, software applications and appear to be friendly to the visitors. Attitudinal training formed a large part of their overall training.
Award received by KDMC from CAPAM at Singapore
• Regonition Award from Department of Administrative Reforms, Govt of India in the Category of Exemplary e-Governance Initiatives.
• Skoch Challenger Award 2004
• Finalist for CAPAM International Innovation Award 2004 (www.capam.org)
• Finalist for Intelligent Enterprise Award 2004
• Finalist for the CRISIL Award 2005.
Challenges in KDMC
From a study of the project, it appears that a number of improvements could be made, if certain things were done differently. Here is a list of a few recommendations:
(A) Use of Database for higher value added services: In this project, no planning has been done for the use of database for either improving the quality of services over time or for creating a database of citizens. For example, the data relating to births could be used in providing better health services for immunisation, or for enrolment of children in school, when they achieve school-going age, as has been done in the case of Rajshahi Corporation example of Bangladesh1 experiment.
(A) Promotion of Internet based transactions: Here the e-governed council runs from 6 CFCs. Hence people have to travel to these 6 centers to conduct transactions. The web model is also available. Perhaps at the current stage of web development and keeping in mind the fact that people of the area are literate, the KDMC may have undertaken a promotional exercise for popularising web services, particularly for payment of bills etc. This may have resulted in more convenience for the users and more savings in time and money. Corporation could have had to deploy less number of people at the counters.
(B) Public Private Partnership: There is no Public Private Partnership model in either funding or in any sharing arrangement, except for the fact the application software work was outsourced. The risk factors could have been minimised, in case any funding was sought from the multi-lateral agencies.
(C) Challenges in replication: The state government has taken a decision to replicate the success achieved at the KDMC in 246 Municipal Corporations and other local bodies in the state. However it would be better if a centralised model is followed with one set of servers at a single location and other corporations accessing the same applications through the central server. This would lead to standardisation in service delivery process, saving in time and money in implementation and most importantly in creating a database of citizens at all these centers. State Government can then use the data usefully in planning and delivery of other services to the citizens.
Further replication of KDMC model itself is full of challenges, as the application will be run in 246 different environments, with local issues, problems and challenges. Whether the environment factors of KDMC can also be replicated and municipal employees will feel the same level of motivation in delivery of services are moot questions that will need an answer.
(D) Integration of Municipal Programme with other e-governance Programmes: The e-Governed council is a stand alone model. This does not share any information, data etc with any other programme of the state or the central government. Two examples of e-governance programmes, one from Naestved2 region of Denmark and the second from the Valencia3 region of Spain comes to mind, where a holistic approach of service delivery to citizens have been adopted. A Portal arrangement has been designed to offer services from the public as well as private sector together. Similarly in e-Seva Project, services from private sector operators such as Banks, Insurance companies are available through the same source. This model, if adopted would have boosted the revenues of the corporation as well.
2. Survey on Government and the Internet, The Economist, June 24, 2000, page 20 (www-3.ibm.com/software/success/ cssdb.nsf)
3. Survey on Government and the Internet, The Economist, June 24, 2000, page 20