Pumping state capacity is key to enabling e-Government : Sanjay Malhotra, Secretary to Government, Department of IT & Communications, Government of Rajasthan, India

Sanjay Malhotra
Secretary to Government, Department of IT & Communications, Government of Rajasthan

Despite all implementation challenges like business continuity, lack of administration capacity and indifference of line departments, the Department of Information Technology (DOIT) is doing a 9 to 9 job to  push the e-Governance agenda in the state. Sanjay Malhotra,  Secretary to Government, Department of Information Technology and Communications, Government of Rajasthan in conversation with Pratap Vikram Singh talks about e-Governance road map, initiatives and challeges in the state of Rajasthan

What is your vision and strategy for enabling e-Government in Rajasthan?

The vision is to deliver the services to citizens in a hassle-free and cost-effective manner. Firstly, we propose to set up a robust IT infrastructure for the state government, so that the particular departments may not have to worry about IT, and the applications for the  departments’ operations and services delivery could be done ‘on demand’.

Secondly, capacity building of state government personnel is key to enabling e-Government in the state.

Under National eGovernance Plan (NeGP), National Institute for Smart Government (NISG) is facilitating an executive training programme on e-Governance at the Manipal University. We have sent our first batch of seven officials to this programme. We have now mandated e-Literacy as the eligibility criterion for LDC recruitment. Besides, to create e-Gov champions in every department, we are planning to provide an executive three months mentoring-cum-training programme on e-Governance for the middle management personnel from next year onwards.

Thirdly, we are planning to pump in fresh blood into the IT department and recruiting nearly 70- 80 personnel in the departments at the middle management level and 300 to 400 people at the lower levels to drive eGovernance projects across all the departments. In sum, we envision facilitating more and more citizen centric services, electronically. This would include PDS, transport, agriculture, commercial tax, inter alia.

Can you elaborate on ICT projects being implemented across departments in the state?  

IT infrastructure is a basic need for all the departments.  With GIS, we have a common infrastructure, which could be leveraged across all the departments.  The spatial technology is being used for road construction, on a regular basis.  Public Health Engineering Department is another department which is using the same technology in their work.

The other project we are working on is e-Office, which is aimed at improving internal efficiency and automation of the government offices.  Besides, we have been doing e-Procurement. Although, we started e-Procurement five years back, adoption of technology has been an issue. The results have not been very satisfactory. Now, we are  upgrading it and there is a willingness to do the electronic procurement in a big way.  Another key application is human resource management (HRM), which has been done in states like Gujarat and Karnataka. These are three common applications which we want to build for departments to use other than GIS for planning purpose.  On the Government to Citizen (G2C) front, we are in the process of preparing detailed project reports for 11 departments, including PDS.

How has been your experience of pushing the use of three percent of Plan Budget by all the  departments for rolling out e-Services? 

The allocation would be happening in the coming fiscal year. Even though the departments were asked to do so in the previous fiscal year, we have not been able to use that fund. All these were on paper. Guidelines were issued for fund utilisation but not much action has been taken.

” The commitment for using three percent of plan budget is the result of determination  at the highest political and administrative level”

Initially, we did not have enough of manpower to do it. As I said earlier, now we are increasing our human resource. In just one year time, we have almost doubled our human resource in the IT department.  Things would start happening in another 12 months time. For the coming fiscal year, we would have funds more than `125 Crore at our disposal. We are now confident that we will be able to progressively move towards achieving this vision.

What are your recommendations for adopting the three percent budget allocation formula to other states?

The government should ensure the business continuity of the official looking after it, say for at least three years. Moreover, there should be determination from the top leadership. In our state, we have been continuing with the allocation plan for speedier roll out of e-Services, in spite of initial not-so-encouraging response from all the departments. This has been possible just because of the commitment at the topmost levels in both political and administrative set-up.

CSCs have been struggling for viability and sustainability in all states in the country. How are you proposing to fix these isues in Rajasthan?

If you don’t consider the sheer number in terms of setting up CSCs, setting up rate is not very high but our success rate is much higher. Number of transactions is increasing at the rate of 20 percent per month. Last month, we did about  1,75,000 G2C transactions and about 75,000 B2C transactions. Apart from spreading CSCs geographically we also need to increase the breadth of the services,  which at present are very few.

We have added some B2C services in last 2-3 months which include railways and roadways online ticketing , LIC and ICICI Prudential. Now we are roping in services like utilities – telephone and mobile payments. Moreover, we are now planning for making available land records and bonafide resident, caste and birth and death certificates. For certificates, we have got the application ready.

Please elaborate on the state CIO initiative?

The aim is to achieve a CIO in every department. There are almost 70 – 80 departments. So we need to have 70 -80 CIOs. For others we are doing, short  training of three weeks. Gradually, we will be able to make use of this skilled  resource pool for government IT projects, in respective departments. So we  might not be able to achieve target of one CIO in every department in a short  time, it might take five to seven years, to achieve the same.

Do you have policy on standardisation and plans for having    legislation on cyber security and information security?

We have now made it mandatory for all applications to obtain a certificate that they are safe and get a security audit done. They have to have a security audit  and get a certification on applications from the apex certification agency – that  is CERTIN. All the technical parameters, like interoperability, standardisation,  etc., are being looked after so that the applications can talk to each other.