Use of ICT for better workflow management has enabled the Gujarat CMO to bring new efficiencies in its operations. Schemes like SWAGAT are popular with citizens. The models of service delivery implemented by the state are winning accolades at national and international levels
By Anand Agarwal
The Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) is the fulcrum around which any state government revolves. It provides secretarial and administrative assistance to the Chief Minister, keeps track of actual implementation of the promises that the CM has made to the electorate, and it also plays a role in developing coordination between different arms of the government. An efficient CMO can contribute greatly in improving the overall standard of governance in the state.
In keeping with the dynamic and tech-savvy image of the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the state CMO is a picture of efficiency. It is the first CMO in the country to have received ISO 9001 certification (for Quality Management Systems). 80 percent of the operations are paperless.
The Gujarat CMO is involved in managing SWAGAT (State-Wide Attention on public Grievance by Application of Technology), which is an application for grievance redressal, and the Gujarat State portal (www.gujaratindia.com). The CMO has also been instrumental in implementing an Integrated Workflow and Document Management System (IWDMS) that has resulted in considerable improvements in efficiency. It has also improved transparency and enabled better monitoring of the progress of individual files through the administrative hierarchy.
360° Web Presence
The CM’s official website is the central hub of all things related to him. It is a comprehensive repository of information on his activities, plans and views. The portal is available in five languages – Hindi, English, Gujarati, Marathi and Sanskrit. It also features public service messages and a large collection of photographs, audio and video clips of the CM’s engagements, as well as 21 downloadable books written by Modi.
The blog narendramodi.com is regularly updated with posts on an array of topics, including commentary on developmental issues, ongoing political controversies, newsworthy events and even obituaries. As with the website, the blog is also available in a number of languages – Hindi, English, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, Bengali, Oriya, Telugu and Tamil.
The CM is equally active on social media. Modi’s official Facebook page is ‘liked’ by over 3.5 lakh Facebook users, and every single status update typically receives hundreds of likes and comments. The story on popular micro-blogging site Twitter is no different – the handle @narendramodi has over 4 lakh followers and every tweet sets off a chain of replies and re-tweets. The YouTube channel is regularly updated with videos of Modi’s speeches and public appearances. The Gujarat CM’s web team has clearly mastered the art of using modern ICT tools; they have been successful in projecting Modi as a technology-savvy modernising administrator.
E is for effectiveness
In one of his most-quoted comments on e-governance, Narendra Modi has equated it to an “easy, effective and efficient government” that will remain incomplete without the integration of citizen-centric delivery processes. Nothing can better demonstrate the effectiveness of e-governance in ensuring citizen centricity than the much-feted SWAGAT. The landmark application has won numerous awards, including the United Nations Public Service Award in 2010.
|Engaging Citizens online – the major initiatives
|SWAGAT – a welcome initiative
— 26 Departments
SWAGAT was launched in April 2003, making Gujarat the first Indian State to use ICT for grievance redressal programme. The SWAGAT system comprises of an online public portal and video-conferencing setup that connects the Chief Minister to all the district and sub-district level officers, as well as the complainant in real time. The system has an integrated grievance tracking module that tracks the progress of each complaint from the time it is filed. When a grievance gets resolved, it is marked as such. Grievances that are not resolved at a particular level for a specific period are automatically forwarded to the next higher level. Similarly, officers at a particular level also forward a complaint they cannot resolve to the next higher level.
In this manner, a set of complaints can ultimately reach the Chief Minister himself who conducts a hearing via videoconference on the 4th Thursday of every month. All Taluka and District-level officers and all secretaries join the hearing, along with complainants whose grievances are yet to be resolved. The best thing is that the system has an inbuilt analysis module that raises a flag if issues of a certain type are routinely cropping up. This indicates the need for a deeper look, and perhaps even a change in existing procedures or policy. SWAGAT is a great illustration of how the power of technology can be used to provide a humane government.
Undoubtedly, the programme has made a huge impact on the way the citizens and the government departments interact. SWAGAT won the UN Public Service Award 2010 for improving transparency, accountability and responsiveness in the Public Service category. It won the Gold Icon at the 14th National eGovernance Conference for outstanding performance in citizen-centric service delivery category and has been recognised as an excellent model of e-transparency by the Commonwealth Telecom Organization and the University of Manchester.
With the rollout of Gram SWAGAT, in February 2011, the system has now reached villages. Once the integration of GSWAN and PAWAN networks is complete, citizens from across the state can lodge their grievances at the eGram centre located in the Gram Panchayat.
The CMO has undertaken a number of ICT-backed steps to serve the requirements of the CM in a better manner. A comprehensive system of time management takes care of the CM’s scheduling. A special scheduling team is responsible for overall time management of the CM. Every month-end, the team and Modi himself analyse the usage of his time and strategise on how to optimise the CM’s time utilisation. A detailed pie-chart shows breakup of the time that the CM spends in various activities. It will show the time he spends with senior officials, time he spends with sundry visitors, time spent on public engagements, time spent on travelling and so on.
Similarly, a system to capture the myriad ideas that Modi receives from the public during his interactions on various channels has also been devised. After the idea has been received, the system assigns any relevant department to track its feasibility through a module called the ‘Ideas to Execution’, which is a part of the online Integrated Workflow and Document Management System (IWDMS).
Another component of the IWDMS tracks commitments made by Modi at various forums and ensures that they are acted upon.
Ideas to execution
The adoption of IWDMS has resulted in a number of tangible gains for the CMO. The Integrated Mail Management Module has increased processing times by as much as 80 percent, manpower requirements have come down and 6-8 percent of the clerical staff has been reallocated as their functions have been automated. The entire path of a file through the administrative hierarchy can now be tracked online. Every file has been assigned a unique identification in the form of a Unique File Number using which the progress of each file is tracked. As a file is the basic unit of workflow in the government, an audit trail for any decision is always a click away. This increases transparency, accountability and efficiency of administration.
The CMO is also going to incorporate digital signatures for online authentication of documents and transactions, further improving decision times and document security, as chances of documents falling into the wrong hands can be minimised by using encrypted files which do not have to be transferred from one place to another physically. With email and SMS alerts for document tracking under implementation, 24X7 government is soon going to become a reality, at least in the CMO.
The IWDMS has a number of other features, such as dashboard, with ability to drill down to the level of individual files, moving from a synoptic to a specific view in a matter of clicks. The system also allows for Dynamic Priority Management of files, based on parameters such as ageing, subject matter etc. It also supports the generation of automatic notification when a file’s priority changes. The major e-Governance initiatives such as IWDMS CMO and SWAGAT have been completely integrated with other Departments for the purpose of achieving efficiency. The Gujarat CMO must be congratulated for its effective and visionary usage of ICT.