National Informatics Center is one of the premier organisations that was involved in the e-Governance initiatives of India right from day one. More than two decades of pioneering work and experience of the author C.S.R. Prabhu during his tenure in NIC is reflected in this book that provides a panoramic view and insight relating to e-Governance development initiatives in India. Additionally, the e-Government initiatives were pioneered in the state of Andhra Pradesh and Mr. Prabhu’s involvement in those initiatives is reflected in the form of his experience about the life cycle of e-Government projects.
Organized into four chapters and a collection of 22 case studies from India and abroad, the book is different from the other literature on the subject, which mostly focuses on the theoretical aspects. A word of caution though for the readers- the case studies mentioned and the inferences drawn are the views of the author and not of a jury of experts from different domain areas of e-Government. The book includes both the theoretical concepts and description of practical experiences gained in designing and implementing e-Governance projects in several departments of union and state governments.
Chapter one provides the conceptual overview of e-Governance along with the history and present trends in the domain. Most of the statistical data used is from the surveys conducted in the year 2001 and 2002 which may require readers to have themselves updated with the current figures as both the application as well as consumption of services has changed drastically since then. Same is the case with the findings given at the end of the chapter. The current figures are very different than the ones provided in the book. This is due to the rapid change in the usage of IT and the miniaturization of technology. Chapter two mainly has a focus on the models of digital governance. The understanding of these models will equip the government officers with a step-by-step approach to implementing e- Governance initiatives. The models presented are not exhaustive, but they are very helpful for the beginners as well as advanced users.
The third chapter is titled “E-Governance Infrastructure, Stages in evolution and strategies for success”. The author has tried to provide an overview for helping users plan the projects for success. This chapter is more of an overview, as the issues discussed in the chapter need much more attention and practical experience than a mere listing of steps. Also the strategies, infrastructure and evolution of e-Government services are more relative than absolute terms, which depends greatly on the location, political conditions and the local context where the projects are initiated. The fourth and final chapter talks about applications of data warehousing and data mining in government. The author has provided examples of various government departments where these techniques are being used, even though at a very elementary level and not for the purpose of facilitating decision making in governance issues.
This chapter will be of use to the states or central government agencies who are in the advanced stage (have reached the maturity model as per the definition provided by the author in earlier chapters). This also requires a much-detailed treatment for deriving any benefits.
One of the most useful aspects of the book is a collection of case studies from most of the Indian initiatives and some initiatives abroad. The book contains a total of 22 case studies. Some of the key projects covered from India are Bhoomi, CARD, Sachivalaya Vahini, e- Khazana and e-Panchayat. While on the case studies from abroad, the author has provided information on projects from USA, China, Brazil and Sri Lanka. The case studies provide with the information on the projects already implemented and can help in replication of some good practices thus saving the time and money for reinvention of the similar initiatives planned in other parts. However the case studies are more focused on the reporting the modules of the systems, as a software developer will do. The sections on evaluation, lesson learned from the projects, positive and negative points and benchmarking are missing which make the case studies merely references than the learning tools.
To summarize, “e-Governance – Concepts and Case Studies” is a book that encompasses the information on the subject ranging from definition of e-Governance to its history and evolution, e-Governance models, infrastructure and manpower facilities and data warehousing possibilities. The author has missed some important issues such as Business Process reengineering techniques, benchmarking and evaluation methods for egovernment projects, knowledge management, need assessment of citizen services etc., which are the vital components of any e-government strategy and are the areas of interest for serious readers of e-governance literature. The book should be of use to computer science students, managers of public administration besides government departments. However, this leaves the advanced practioners wanting for much more.