The 10-point e-Gov Agenda for India
[Dataquest e-Governance Summit 2006] The 10-point e-Gov Agenda for India
As promised during the Dataquest e-Governance Summit 2006, we have gone through each and every suggestions and recommendations made at the Summit on “How to make India an e-Governed Nation” and converted them into actionable agenda for pushing e-Governance in India.
The DQ “e-Gov 10” are practical and achievable steps that will take the country significantly forward in the years to come.
Please find below the actionable and measurable agenda as compiled by us for adoption by DIT and other ministries of the Government of India. While some of these action points can be implemented in 2006, others can be initiated and completed in mid and long term.
Would request you to go through it and send us your feedback on the same. In case you feel we have missed out on some major points, please feel free to send us your recommendations along with its impact and primary/secondary driver.
The Dataquest e-Gov 10-Point Agenda
(Developed through a consultative process at the 4-city Dataquest e-Gov Summit 2006)
1. Consolidate applications
Primary Driver: DIT
Identify 5-10 applications that can be delivered centrally (e.g. public grievance system, birth/death certificates, police department, health records) while allowing for some interface customization if required. This may involve some GPR in the states, to adapt local processes and formats to a common best practice model. Adoption will be optional but DIT could focus on building application, ensuring implementation in 2-3 states; Dataquest would help showcase the successes, and both parties would urge adoption by other states.
1. What about centralized hosting? Will the user departments in the state agree to it?
DQ Suggests: While this might turn out to be more of a political issue that technical, the states might cooperate if the central funding is involved and also if they realize that they will eventually benefit from it because it would lead to better planning at the central level. However, strict security measure has to be put in place to ensure state data is not shared (except where needed as per existing law).
DIT Suggests: Let project handling happen at an arms length and not centralize it for the time being.
2. Create Central repository of e-Governance Initiatives
Primary Driver: DIT
Pick up best breed projects from across the country and create a repository at the central level that can be adopted by various states. Besides the project details, the repository would also capture and display information on applications used in the project, specifications, guidelines, source code, and vendor details.
It would also include learning from projects—shortcomings, FAQs, Dos and Don’ts and channels used, information about research and development funded by the Government and related agencies in e-governance.
The repository would also have a fast, but transparent, summary assessment system to shortlist suitable projects (not rigorous best-of-breed testing) from states or departments. The repository can also include NIC projects.
All projects listed in the repository would be available for optional adoption and/or replication by other department/state. The best results could be achieved if the projects listed in the repository ‘Open Source’ the application, i.e, the source code is made available to all states and departments willing to replicate it.
1. What is the responsibility of the government if the project underwritten by them turns out to be flawed? What should be the government’s liability?
DQ Suggests: Central ‘responsibility/liability’ and central maintenance is the ideal situation; but this requires a team, budget, etc. Hence a working solution is to follow the open source model – no central liability, and fixes and updates possible by user parties (states)
2. What happens in cases where the project put in the repository is not open sourced?
DQ Suggests: All apps should be either Open Source (GPL) or the terms of contract should allow reuse by other government departments. However, it’s also possible to follow the shareware model, i.e. the apps can be put up but actual use requires license fee payment
3. Standardize various record formats
Primary Driver: DIT; Secondary Driver: Media like Dataquest
Identify 5 key areas (land record, birth & death records, contracts, crime records, health etc) and create a working group with fixed tenure to create a uniform standard for capturing data and records across India. The working group can look into the best practices across the States and create a uniform format that may be adopted by the States.
The new format that would adopt to the IT Act 2000 (and the revised IT Act when it comes out) would also clearly define the rights and security issues and may involve some GPR in the states—to adapt local processes and formats to a common best practice model. This is also aimed at making the certificates issued using digital certificates admissible in the court of law.
While the adoption would be optional, the DIT and the Planning Commission can link further funding in for these areas directly to adoption of the format.
Dataquest along with DIT can work towards creating awareness about the formats by publishing it, and urging adoption by the states.
The common format would ensure that databases across the States could talk to each other at the central level, enabling better planning option by the central governments.
4. Push for Citizen ID Card at State level
Primary Driver: PMO/Ministry of Home; Secondary Driver: DIT
Create policy road map, tech specifications and funding plan—like the SWAN policy to moot citizen ID card project at the State level. This would include one card system and common data structure at every level by initiating multi-utility, integrated citizen ID Card system that should be capable of accommodating new department needs and additional functionalities, as an when the need arises.
It should be similar to the US social security card or Singapore’s resident card system, but at the state level. However, as the framework would be the same, it would ultimately lead to a National ID Card regime by creating both the pull and the push. Besides, if proper care is taken at the initial stage—in terms of data capturing and ID card format, the same card can automatically double up as the National ID Card, once all state data is integrated.
The project should be driven by DIT at the initial stages and should be handed over to the PMO/Ministry of Home once it has achieved the purpose at the state level. However, the Primary Driver has to be involved from day one for creating the numbering format and other policies—security, privacy issues etc.
5. Unified e-Procurement Policy
Primary Driver: Ministry of Finance/CVC
Secondary Driver: DIT (For tech and security framework, standards, etc)
Procurement being one of the major expense area, the policy is aimed at developing a guideline for e-Procurement and technology standards for the same. While the CVC guideline covers the same to a certain extent, there is a need to get procurement of services guidelines incorporated in GFR (General Financial Rule) document, which now covers procurement of works, goods and consultancy, but not services. Also, there is a need to create a policy on user charges (tender document fee, etc, which varies from one e-Procurement project to another unlike in the case of traditional tendering process.
These issues can be handled by Ministry of Finance and CVC, which can also create an expert panel (including members of PSUs) to create the standards framework and processes for e-Procurement in India.
DIT can work towards creating technology framework, including security and standards and a monitoring mechanism for the same.
6. Champions, Recognition, HRD
Primary Driver: DAR&PG
Secondary Driver: DIT / Media like Dataquest (Like DQ e-Gov Champion Award and Best e-Governed State Award through DQ-IDC Citizen Satisfaction Index)
While the role of “champion” as a success factor was highlighted in both the Dataquest e-Gov Summit (2005 & 2006), what has come out very clear is that many an e-Gov initiatives failed to achieve a critical mass because the official championing the cause are transferred.
While the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had indicated a fixed tenure for senior officers, and the DAR&PG is driving the same the Dataquest e-Gov Summit recommends the policy be finalized fast. Also, initiative should be made to make changes in the service rule, thereby enabling post-transfer availability of the officer for project consultation for a maximum period of one year for hand holding of new projects in his previous department, if required. While the initiative has to be driven by DAR&PG, DIT can play the role of catalyst by pushing for the cause.
Besides, the government can motivate officers to adopt the e-way of governance by linking their appraisals and promotions to their “e” initiative and their proficiency in IT.
There is also a need to create a core group of e-Gov champions at the State and Central level who can act as consultants to other states and departments which are lagging behind in e-Gov initiative. The list can be published by DIT and also by publications like Dataquest. DIT can also look toward motivating the e-Gov Champions at the District level or extend the process through Dataquest’s existing e-Gov Champion Award.
1. It would be difficult to have Champion as consultant after being transferred out of the office because of various individual and operative issues.
7. Health & Telemedicine
Primary Driver: Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture
Secondary Driver: DIT (To create white paper and push it)
Noting the potential impact of advances in ICT on healthcare, the World Health Assembly had in year 2005 adopted the resolution on e-Health. The resolution urged member states to endeavor to reach communities, including vulnerable groups, with e-Health services, and requested the WHO Director General to continue the expansion of mechanisms such as the Health Academy.
Besides, the incident of SAARS and Bird Flu and development in ICT space in handling such situations effectively has proved that there is a need for an integrated approach to handle animal husbandry and crop health e.g. H5N1 etc (Ministry of Agriculture to be involved) also as part of the national agenda of e-Governance.
Keeping in sync with the World Health Resolution, the Summit recommends that e-Health and Telemedicine be made part of the Mission Mode Projects, which can also turn out to be a killer application for CSCs.
While its important to link district and village health centers to the major hospitals to provide better diagnosis and consultancy, this is also important for a nationwide medical surveillance system that the Health Ministry has already planned. Though standardization of health record format is part of the agenda # 2, the same needs to be integrated in the final plan on e-Health and Telemedicine. The Citizen ID card as in agenda #4 can also double up as the Health Card, that can be used to maintain an online health record of the person throughout its life, no matter wherever he goes. The compiled database can then be corroborated at the district health office, where it is mapped with the help of the GIS system of the area. This healthcare tracking mechanism can help generate real-time data and many problems can be nipped out in its early stages, increasing the economic productivity of the individuals.
8. e-Security & Privacy
Primary Driver: DIT
A national e-security policy is important to safeguard important state and country information, particularly so when the country is on its path to becoming an e-Governed nation. Hence it’s important that the National e-Security Policy be clearly defined and spelt out. Besides, NEGP also needs to incorporate the security aspect for implementation of projects under the MMP, including the use of Digital Signature. An important first step could be the adoption and use of Digital Signature by all Government departments and agencies by year 2007.
Primary Driver: DIT
Make available project based funding at the State level. The account model of DIT created for funding SWAN can be followed for the same, making monitoring of fund utilization easier.
Three options have been proposed for ‘Project-based funding at state level’
A. Fund only central adoption, cleanup, etc
B. (A) plus part-fund rollout for only the projects in the repository (additional benefit to be sought for originator of adopted application)
C. Give Central funding only for projects that have a clear e-Gov component (not IT projects)
10. NDC Policy
Primary Driver: DIT
Secondary Driver: Media (Dataquest)
A comprehensive framework for National and State Data Centers is important to avoid duplication of work across states and Center. The Policy would also aim at creating a framework to also allow where required, interconnection of states and sharing of information (policy based) for better planning and allocation of resources.
The Summit suggest that the distributed framework approach be adopted for National NOC and States/Departments have access to data as well as applications as per pre defined policies. The Summit also suggested that States should have a clear de facto and de jure control of the state level data center. However, the states also agreed that the data center may not essentially be in the state but can be hosted in a common data center run at the national level by a third party or by NIC with a clearly defined DR site and policy.
The consolidation of infrastructure is aimed at better cost management, reliability and disaster recovery and NOT aimed at data sharing.
While DIT can work towards creating a policy on the same media like Dataquest can push the cause by doing stories on architectures and presenting cost comparisons.
11. National e-Gov Policy
Primary Driver: PMO
Secondary Driver: DIT/ Media (DIT to facilitate. Media like Dataquest to push for it through its reports/features/articles)
Create and publish a National e-Gov Policy, which leads to an e-Gov Act on the lines on of the President’s Management Agenda (PMA) on e-Governance in the United States, with the key objective of goal is for citizens to be able to access government services and information within three “clicks,” when using the Internet. The policy needs to not only define the milestones (it can adopt the MMP as in the existing NEGP and expand it), but also set deadlines for each of them.
The Summit suggests that the National e-Gov Policy should, besides others, essentially also incorporate the points given below:
a. Provide definitions, tech specifications, legal sanctions and SLAs with “citizen customer”
b. Include e-Gov initiatives as one of the parameters to decide allocation of funds for the 11th Five Year Plan.
c. Identify not so sovereign government functions that can be outsourced.
d. Include compulsory IT component in all Government of India funded projects.
e. Motivate e-Gov Champions by making sure promotions and appraisals are linked to their “e” initiative and their proficiency in IT.
f. Make it mandatory for the governments or department to own the IP of the solution / implementation to make replication possible.
g. Make it mandatory for each for each department to have a nodal officer responsible for driving e-Gov initiatives at the departmental level.
h. Decide on a time frame to move all manual transactions to the e-Gov way and work step by step towards the goal.
i. Push for Community Radio policy pending with the Cabinet Council to further take e-Gov to grassroots level. Accept TRAI’s 2004 recommendation on CR.
1. Do we really need a separate National e-Gov Policy when NEGP already exists?
12. Metrics, Marcom, Branding
Primary Driver: DIT
Secondary Driver: Media (Dataquest)
Create simple metrics for monitoring and measuring the progress of various national and state level e-Gov projects and initiatives, including those under NEGP on a quarterly basis and publish the scorecard. A similar step has already been taken for the SWAN project and the DIT publishes the monthly development scorecard for all states.
Besides, the Summit proposed creation of metrics for defining SLA and measuring the outcome, including ROI, scale and speed of deployment of a project.
While it would be good if the respective departments/ governments adopt corporate strategy of external and internal communication for creating a pull for the services, it would also be the right step towards getting internal buy-in.
The theme for year 2006-07 should be (a) speed—of implementing a project, delivery of service, complain handling etc and (b) SLAs to the “citizen customer”—both individual and corporate citizen as well as those involved in G-2-G transactions.
Primary Driver: NASSCOM/Media (Dataquest)
Secondary Driver: DIT
The Summit suggested that governments and departments should also look forward to adopting and encouraging the Pro-bono model as adopted by Pune Municipality for one of its e-Gov projects. The initiative to be primarily driven by Nasscom and Dataquest would encourage the IT industry to contribute by providing project development expertise as part of their CSR activity at “no cost”. The entire source code for the project would be made open and will be available at the central repository for adoption/ replication by other governments/ government departments and agencies.
Sr Assistant Editor, Dataquest
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