Right synergy for good results – The problems facing e-governance can be tackled successfully if public and private sectors come together, reports Chirasrota Jena
Posted by egovindia on June 21, 2006
|Right synergy for good results|
Monday June 19 2006
E-governance enhances the efficacy of citizen and government interaction. This has been made possible by public-private sector partnerships leading to the availability of more affordable and rugged PCs to suit operating conditions in the hinterland and deepening Internet penetration. With the realisation of e-governance projects in India, the time has come to review the role of the public sector as well as private sector to speed up the process of implementation of different projects related to e-governance.
The government agencies throughout the world are considering and conducting e-governance initiatives with the help of private players; the scene in India is much the same. The development of network-based distributed systems that serve numerous and diverse constituents and improve the overall efficiency and functioning of government is a priority. Considering these requirements, private players such as IT vendors are extending their overall support to realise e-governance projects for Indian citizens. Not just the central government, state governments are also actively participating in these projects. Today, most states have drafted state-specific IT policies that are in various stages of implementation. The central government has also taken several initiatives to advance ICT usage across all government bodies as this will benefit the common man. These include the roll-out of the National e-governance Plan (NeGP), the launch of Mission 2007, and the formation of e-panchayats across the country.
As far as the e-governance initiatives are concerned, the three Ps— public-private partnership — say it all. This model requires less investment from the government.
States R Chandrashekhar, joint secretary, department of information technology, government of India, “We welcome private participation in fulfilling the e-Governance initiatives of the Government of India. But this participation can only happen at the front-end level since the government is handling all the back-end work. For example, in the case of ICT kiosks, any private party can do the setting-up of a kiosk, but to run that kiosk the government will provide all support.”
If we have a closer look at the various projects already implemented in India, as well as those at the pilot stage, then we get a clear idea of the PPP model. Some of the IT companies that have taken a pioneering role in e-governance projects include Microsoft, Sun, IBM, TCS, HCL Infosystems and Adobe.
Microsoft is working with 14 state governments in various projects across the country. Says Rohit Kumar, country head, public sector, Microsoft India, “our e-governance vision is to enable the public sector and governments to lead the information society by leveraging information technology for delivering effective citizen-centric services and ushering in a more participative and transparent form of governance. The public-private partnership is very important in the successful implementation of e-Governance projects.”
According to S Angiah, business development manager, India and Saarc, Adobe Systems, “Adobe has a unique advantage in the PPP model. More often than not, Adobe directly handles the pilot projects for the identified government department. We along with the particular government department then freeze the out-based project, after which it is the government that floats the tender seeking other vendors to bid, operate, transfer or own. Adobe’s value proposition is unique and very visible after the projects are undertaken.”
There are various projects that have already been implemented by the government of India and various state governments in association with private players. Notable ones are the Bhoomi project of the Karnataka state government, Community Information Centres in the north-eastern states, AP Online, Kalyan Damodar Valley Project, CDFD Medical Bioinformatics Centre for Excellence in Hyderabad, and the Common Service Centres (CSCs). Chandrashekhar informs, “A lot of progress has been made in the area of e-procurement. This will again be an example of the PPP model in action. It will be a unique project, as well as large. This project requires a great deal of participation and the involvement of different ministries and departments. Things are moving forward in this initiative. The Central Vigilance Committee has recommended this project for bigger organisations and PSUs. In fact, online tenders are now a reality. Soon, entire government tenders will be available online.”
The SharePoint Portal Solution is poised to play a pivotal role in keeping with the e-Governance vision for greater transparency in public affairs and being local-language-enabled, since state governments are required to communicate with citizens in local languages. Kumar says that in the recent past Microsoft has witnessed great demand from government agencies across India to develop solutions that enable effective communication between elected governments and the public.
Some important projects in the pipeline are SUNKalp by Sun Microsystems, MCA-21 of the ministry of company affairs (along with TCS), and the eCOP project of the Andhra Pradesh (AP) government (along with Sun). MCA-21 is the largest e-governance initiative by the ministry of company affairs, and a mission project under the government of India’s NeGP was formally launched on a pilot basis with a comprehensive online portal to enable e-filing. HCL Infosystems, as a single-window infrastructure provider, has participated in a number of e-Governance projects providing direct support infrastructure at 300 locations.
Elaborates Jaijit Bhattacharya, Country director, government strategy, Sun Microsystems, “Though we have not participated in the MCA-21 projects, we are working on various e-Governance projects both with the central as well as state governments. Sun is helping AP build better police services with a state-wide data access network. As part of the Vision 2020 programme, eCOPS is an e-governance initiative that empowers the law enforcement services of AP with real-time and seamless data flow. The focus of eCOPS is the computerisation of investigation activities and administration and support services across the state.” Sun is also working with the haryana government wherein its office productivity suite, StarOffice 7, will be adopted across the state government’s departments.”
—In arrangement with Express Computer