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eGov Muddle

Who are Icons of eGovernance in INDIA ??

Posted by egovindia on October 28, 2007

Publication in Dataquest on e-gov corruption – The E-governance Muddle

The E-governance Muddle – Dataquest article Sept 02, 2005

https://egovindia.wordpress.com/category/egov-muddle/

WHO provided the information to Srivatsa Krishna, IAS is currently with the World Bank in Washington, DC. ?

Counter Point to E-Governance Muddle by Srivatsa Krishna, IAS is currently with the World Bank in Washington, DC. These are his personal views and not of any organization he is associated with in any form or manner.

Counterpoint

India singularly lacks icons. Neither does India know as to how to celebrate its icons. Much of this is true except perhaps in the world of sports, software and movies, where we do cherish our icons. This is in response to “The Egovernance Muddle” by Shubendhu Parth dated September 2, 2005.

R Chandrashekhar and J Satyanarayana are not ordinary IAS officers — they are icons of the IAS, the creators of e-governance in India, and are responsible for creating from scratch, projects which have added tremendous value to the everyday life of the harried common man.

If they had been born in any other country, like the United States, they would have been held up as national treasures.

But, we, rather than applauding their feats, and recognizing how many minefields they had to go through professionally to make them happen, choose the easy path of sending an email or two, writing trash and innuendo hoping that it would substitute for solid analysis which ought to precede an investigative article.

Publication in Dataquest on e-gov corruption – The E-governance Muddle

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https://egovindia.wordpress.com/nkc/

Submission to National Knowledge Commission from eGovINDIA Yahoogroup, on relevance of e-governance in building a knowledge super power,

April 10 th 2006

Dear Chairman and Members of the National Knowledge Commission,

 

Greetings from eGovINDIA yahoo group members.

 

About the eGovINDIA group:

eGovINDIA-Yahoo group comprises of over 3000 members from all over the world. The members of the group have subscribed to process automation based true e-governance which has the capacity to empower the citizens of all walks of life such as the socially and economically downtrodden, women, minorities and people living in far flung areas.

One of the moderators of the group is an IAS officer (Mr.C.Umashankar) who had commissioned India’s first e-district at Tiruvarur, TamilNadu during 1999-2001 using process automation techniques. The first e-district was rated 20 years ahead of rest of India by Times of India during 2001. The e-champion was chosen the bureaucrat of the next millennium by the Week Magazine in its millennium edition during the year 2000. The e-district continues to transact business using the e-governance systems till date. Mr.Umashankar served as Member (Special Invitee) of the National e-governance Action Plan implementation committee for a while during 2005.

The other moderator Mr. V. M. Kumaraswamy is stationed at Los Angeles, CA, USA. He is a post graduate in Management and has been deeply committed to the creation of a transparent and self confident India.

The group considers it a great opportunity to build India a knowledge super power through the NKC. We would like to put forward our views on e-governance and relevance of e-governance in achieving the knowledge super power status.

 

Relevance of e-governance vis-a-vis building a knowledge super power.

Public administration in India is marred by corruption and red tappism which had resulted in an anomalous situation whereby the laws of the lands are being twisted according to the executive/bureaucracy’s whims and fancies. The underlying problem is the Tottenham system that has been in use all over India since independence. The Tottenham system believes in creating multiple manual records for a single transaction on the belief that if one record gets destroyed, the other original record would come handy. This had resulted in a situation where the bureaucracy in India works only to feed itself with more and more book keeping work, with hardly any concern for the citizen. The other result is rampant corruption and red tappism in public administration. Certain citizens have become more than equal in India due to these circumstances. This goes against the spirit of the Indian constitution.

Nearly 60 years into independence, India still witnesses a situation where a major portion of its population continues to remain marginalized. The well thought out schemes that were introduced for the betterment of the marginalized population had been thwarted by the vested interests using the Tottenham system which enables secrecy and corruption.

Naxalism which had been considered a bane has been gradually gaining legitimacy due to the all round failure of the systems.

Corruption and red tappism pose a serious threat to the effort to convert India into a Knowledge super power. Only a self confident nation can become a knowledge super power. The citizens of the nation have to feel empowered to interact with their own governments and its multiple agencies confidently before emanating the same level of confidence in building a knowledge super power.

e-governance has the magical power to bring about the much awaited change in public administration. All the ills of the Tottenham system can be got over using process automation based e-governance system. E-governance is the only viable route to a transparent governance system.

 

Having emphasised the need for e-governance to act as a foundation to build India a knowledge super power, we would like to focus on certain areas where India has to concentrate to steer clear of pitfalls in the e-governance implementation.

 

Definition of e-governance:

“Information and Communication Technology (ICT) that empowers the Government, its citizens including the Government employees, weaker sections, women, people living in far flung and difficult areas and the business houses to transact businesses with government and its agencies online 24/7 ”

This definition presupposes process automation at every level where e-governance is introduced. There is no scope for window dressing in such a professional set up. Utility bill collection system should not be confused with the process automation system that is being discussed here.

The litmus test for true e-governance is that the system should react at the same speed for a rich man as well as poor man. The same is the case when it comes to literate versus illiterate, men verses women and so on. The so called untouchables (Scheduled Castes) should feel themselves equal to the rest of the Indian citizens at least in their interaction with Government and its agencies online.

Agenda before the nation to achieve true e-governance

Having defined the concept, the egovINDIA group wishes to place its view points on how to achieve true e-governance.

Like any other advocacy groups, the egovINDIA feels strongly for and against certain policies and practices adopted at present by various governments in India, in the name of e-governance. The group considers strongly for any initiative in India that closely matches the above definition and it openly expresses its reservations when such policies are found to be in the interest of certain individuals or corporate only.

 

Requisites for a true take off in e-governance:

1. Clear Information Technology and e-governance policy frame work from Government of India and respective State Governments.

The first mandatory pronouncement is that any e-governance initiative has to be process automation based system. A process automation system converts the existing manual workflow into electronic workflow with or without process reengineering. Process reengineering usually takes place when the system gets converted to the electronic form.

The resolve expressed by the executive is the most important factor for the commencement and survival of any e-governance initiative. Such a resolve has to be expressed through policy pronouncements followed by concrete rules and regulations.

 

2. Expected outcome of e-governance initiative to be clearly spelt out before commencement.

3. A clear vision plan for the next 15-20 years with well defined and verifiable milestones is necessary.

4. Objective evaluation of implementation of e-governance based on pre defined parameters to do course correction, if any.

5. Legal framework to fund the e-governance movement.

6. Government employees to be the first major stake holders: Involvement of all stake holders in e-governance initiative is essential to make it a success. The prime stake holders are the Government employees who at present handle the public administration using mostly the manual processing method. E-governance has to enable these employees to carry out their day-to-day functions online. The system undoubtedly has to talk their language and it should provide them a complete solution. It had already been proved in the country’s first e-district that the Government employees are not monsters as depicted. The Government employees are ready to accept e-governance system as long as it satisfies their functional requirements with fool proof security and audit trail.

Enabling government employees to switch over to the e-governance system requires careful planning and execution. It is a case of prudent man management. There is a great role for e-champions in making this area a success.

7. Involvement of citizens and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in planning India’s e-governance policies.

8. Qualifications of a CSO to advice and aid Government: It is preferable that the Government should engage the services of the CSOs which had not received any funding from Government for projects.

9. Need for a Whistle Blowers’ protection Act: A strong e-governance system needs the backing of a supporting Act such as the Whistleblowers’ protection Act. WBA would complement the e-governance system and make life easier for the citizens and business houses.

10. Connectivity: Policy and funding for connecting all the 5 lakh villages of India. The Government owned BSNL had proved that it could provide digital connectivity to every nook and corner of the country. It had already achieved this feet by converting the entire analogue lines into digital lines even five years ago. The consumers had rated the BSNL as the most transparent billing company. BSNL’s broadband services (Data one) have been rated excellent by the consumers. Data One services have to be extended to the rural areas without any further loss of time. BSNL has its telephone exchanges touching Blocks and below the block level administrative set up. This is a huge strength on which BSNL can build India’s broadband revolution. All the Government installations, including schools, colleges, government / local body offices, hospitals, primary health centres and police stations have to be connected using Data one services. BSNL had already proved that the Tax payers’ money spent on its infrastructure is a useful investment in bringing about the telecom revolution. This time, the Government of India has to come forward to fund BSNL for building the internet infrastructure to connect all the villages. Suitable tax holidays and tax concessions have to be provided to encourage the users to opt for the broadband services at the village level. It may not be a bad idea if the Government of India could announce 2006, the year of connectivity. The entire rural India should be broadband enabled within a period of 12 months to enable a quantum leap in knowledge revolution. Unless the rural schools get broadband connectivity, the dream of building a knowledge super power would not materialise. So, the earlier the rural areas get affordable broadband connectivity the better it is for the momentum to build a knowledge super power.

11. Special treatment for difficult areas: Special provisions should be built for Bihar, North East, Hilly States such as Himachal and Uttranchal and Jammu & Kashmir to enable them to catch up with the rest of the States. For example, Bihar does not have electricity for major portion of its areas. There should be a special provision to provide power generators for the Government installations where e-governance is proposed in Bihar. Solar based power supply systems may also be considered. For these special efforts, suitable additional funding support has to be built into the plans. Similar is the case with North East and other difficult states.

12. Addressing power problem using notebook PCs: An innovative solution could be thought about by providing notebook computers to the power starved areas with solar power back up systems so that these areas need not bother about investing in high cost power back up systems. The present day notebook PCs match the desktop PCs in performance as well as reliability. The price of the notebook PCs has come down drastically in the recent past. With suitable policy support, the Government of India could make the notebook PCs the default systems for Government offices.

13. Policy framework for e-champions within the bureaucracy, at all levels: For the Indian system, the role of e-champions from within the Government is a pre requisite for leading the e-governance momentum. These e-champions have to be identified on voluntary basis, trained and put in charge of strategising and implementing e-governance solutions.

14. Need for change in civil service rules: Government employment should be thoroughly redefined. At present, the bureaucracy works on the principle of anonymity and secrecy. These principles go against e-governance based system which automatically seeks transparency in every sphere of activity. Anonymity of civil servants, though desirable, would be too difficult to achieve under a transparent system where everyone will be accountable for his/her commissions and omissions in a transparent manner. The rules the Central and State Civil Services need to be overhauled to suit the e-governance based system.

15. Women in e-governance: The country’s first e-district had proved that women employees far out numbered men in taking over the e-champion’s role. Similarly, the women beneficiaries outnumbered men in availing social security benefits through e-governance. Hence there is a need to have special focus on role for women in e-governance.

16. Native language support in e-governance.

17. Setting up of National and state level e-governance authority in the lines of Election Commission of India: In order to strategise, monitor and carry out course correction exercise, the Government may consider setting up of e-governance authorities in the lines of the RTI Commissioners. The authority should be vested with powers matching the Election Commission of India. At present, the e-governance initiative of the country is handled by a handful of IAS officers which is an aberration.

18. Adequate representation to SC/STs, minorities such as Muslims and Christians, women, people from rural areas in e-governance committees.

19. Transparency in all e-governance initiatives.

20. IT in school education. Role of CSOs such as Azim Premji foundation in providing multi media education for the poor: Schools should be provided with multi media based education material across the nation. This would provide a level playing field to all the students, notably the rural students. India can become a knowledge super power only if it empowers its rural students to come up on par with the urban students. In this connection, the NKC may consider recognising the role of Azim Premji foundation which has been supplying multi media based study materials to schools in different Indian languages free of cost. Azim premji foundation may be made the nodal agency for the entire nation to sphere head this movement.

21. Citizen feedback on e-governance activities: There is a need to enable the common man to contribute to the development of e-governance in public administration by keeping a window open for the citizens to send their opinions and suggestions.

 

 

Advocacy areas:

The following are a few areas which the egovINDIA group strongly feels about. The NKC may consider these views while formulating its recommendations to Government.

1. Focus on urban population or rural population? So far, the e-governance movement had focussed on urban citizens. The notable exceptions are the West Godawari (AP) and Akshya (Kerala) experiments. This is not the logical step to say the least. The population which is more affected by the Tottenham system is the rural poor because the poor do not have any bargaining capacity nor do they have the means to pay the illegal bribes. Today, the rural poor cannot get the Old Age Pension benefit unless they bribe the lower level officials. Nor they can get any government service unless they approach the government officials through touts, that too at a special cost. Good governance is a matter of livelihood for the rural population whereas it is a matter of luxury for the urban people. The convent English speaking corrupt bureaucracy would always prefer to serve the urban population because of various factors. Firstly, it provides them name and fame easily through the urban focussed print and other media. Secondly, it provides them illegal wealth or power or both. In the interest of the nation, the NKC may intervene and do the course correction. E-governance has to focus on providing services to the poor first, notably the poor in the rural areas before the same is taken up in urban areas.

2. Role of private sector partner in e-governance: Should the private sector run the Government services sans the Government or Government servants’ involvement? This question is being raised increasingly in the light of the replication of Andhra Pradesh’s e-seva in different states in different names. The case of Bangalore One in Karnataka is an example. The e-govINDIA group strongly feels that the private partner should be involved in software development, hand holding support and then maintenance of the software & database. Their role should not be extended to running the services on their own as it has many negative side effects. The first and foremost among the negative side effects is that instead of reducing corruption, such initiatives generate large scale e-corruption. Transparency is given a goby. None of the empowerment factors get enabled through such arrangements. Only the private partner gets empowered with more revenue. Madras University had shown the way for the rest of India by engaging a private partner to develop its e-governance software and then help the university with hand holding for nearly two years after the initial implementation. This is the right way to go. The NKC may study the Madras University pattern and take an appropriate view.

3. Role of women Self Help Groups (SHGs) as partners for providing Government services. There is a tendency to hand over the utility bill collection operations to a private partner and then call it a great e-governance initiative. Suggestions to hand over such routine yet lucrative revenue bearing tasks to women self help groups had been met with ridicule by IAS officers manning e-governance positions. The group considers it a gross misadventure to leave out the women self help groups. It is the considered opinion of this group that the Government services should be front ended by the women self help groups. In the absence of women self help groups alone, the Governments should look for private corporate partners.

4. Open source software should be the default software for e-governance operations: Open source software had come a long way to compete and even overtake proprietary software systems. The latest release of Novell Suse 10.0- open source version had been hailed to be a match, if not more than a match to the proprietary windows operation system. Open source movement offers a variety of rich and valuable software packages free. Open source office suite – openoffice.org, open source database system – Postgresql, open source report writing software – ireport, open source GIS software – OpenGIS , Netbeans for linux for software development, Apache Tomcat, Resin, Jboss etc., provide a great deal of flexibility to the users to configure the e-governance system. Developed countries themselves have started adopting the open source systems and open standards. India needs to spell out a policy towards use of open source systems and open standards in e-governance operations. (It is quite strange that a few State governments and NISG have struck a deal with Microsoft for using Microsoft’s proprietary technology at huge cost. This is not a logical step because Microsoft does not offer any of its software free. Then why such MoUs? There seems to be huge corruption here).

5. Setting up of open source support and research centres in every district: Open source software enables innovations. For a nation that aims at becoming a knowledge super power, it is extremely important that vital software packages that drive the computer systems should flow freely. Proprietary systems, by default cannot flow freely towards the needy. Only the open source software can be freely used by the research professionals and educational institutions. A GIS software or database software in the normal course costs a fortune. But the open source movement had provided these packages under GNU for free download. This freedom has to be encouraged through appropriate government assisted technical support centres at every district level. The District Informatics office under the control of NIC could be declared the open source support centre. The support centre’s services should be made available freely to the student community and all government offices.

6. Mission mode projects – is the bureaucracy capable of heading mission mode projects? The term “mission” pre supposes sacrifice and helping others. Currently, the bureaucrats who were utter failures in the field in providing proactive public service to the common man had taken over the leadership positions in e-governance. This is not a healthy trend for building a self confident nation. Bureaucrats, by definition are not fit to head any mission mode projects as they are not meant to be missionaries. The rare exceptions are the missionaries who had joined the bureaucracy. It is time the entire e-governance leadership is handed over to the national and state level e-governance authorities as proposed in the earlier part of this write up.

7. Indian e-governance effort should not result in a mere market for selling the ready made products of multi nationals: The trend at present has been to encourage development of ready made products and then purchase the same by various State Governments from the same companies. The case of e-seva/Bangalore one and e-procurement are the dangerous pointers. Governments have to acquire the source code and host the source code for free download by other Governments. The citizens also would be enabled to support the Government software packages by identifying and informing the lacuna found in the source code, if any.

8. Compulsory e-governance in higher education: Our students undergoing higher education should have a first hand experience in using e-governance system during their college days. This is one of the steps in making a self confident India, marching towards knowledge super power status.

9. Knowledge commission and higher education – The case for more Deemed Universities and autonomous technical institutions: If India were to supply the global demand for technical manpower, it needs to encourage more private players to commence Deemed Universities. Colleges which had shown a credible trend for 10 years should be given autonomous status through automatic route. The unfortunate trend is that many colleges which apply for autonomous status are forced to wait for years by the State Governments which simply sit over the proposals. The current move to curb the independence enjoyed by the deemed universities is a retrograde step. The Government must allow the market forces to determine the weightage of the Deemed universities. Regulatory agencies such as the Medical Council of India and AICTU had enhanced the cost of education through bureaucratic delays and huge corruption.

10. The role of NISG.

This paragraph had been withdrawn after detailed discussions. Copy provided at the bottom of the email.

11. NASSCOM in NISG – role to be defined to save its name.

12. Cheating in the name of e-governance. The case of n-logue

This paragraph had been withdrawn after detailed discussions. Copy provide at the bottom of the email.

13. An aberration called Village Knowledge Centre (VKC): The Village Knowledge Centre concept is being pushed without making any assessment. The five star culture driven CSOs have been ruling the roost. The kiosk experiments have failed wherever it had been started. No assessment had been done on these failed experiments. In the absence of e-governance content, the kiosks can at the best act as e-mail centres and at the worst phonographic content suppliers. The NKC may take an appropriate view on this.

14. Centralisation of e-governance planning by Government of India has to be given up in favour of States taking the lead: As on date, a handful of officials of Government of India have been acting the sole e-governance drivers. This is not a healthy trend for the nation. The National Institute of Smart Government has been formed with an aim to undercut the States. With NISG under their control, these Government of India officials are able to operate like private agencies, taking over the role of the State governments as well as the central Government. Ideally speaking, the States should be given their due. Funds meant for e-governance should be distributed to the States. Leadership building at State level should be taken up instead of driving the e-governance movement through NISG which has neither any expertise nor legitimacy. The NKC may take an appropriate view on this subject.

 

Dated the 10th April 2006 at Bangalore.

Signed

Moderator, egovINDIA- yahoo group.

 

Enclosure:

1. Mail sent to Mr.Sam Pitroda, Chairman, NKC dated 23rd December 2005.

2. Book on Tiruvarur e-governance titled “e-governance-the success story of Tiruvarur, the road covered and the road ahead” – 2001

3. CD-ROM containing video of e-governance camp held in Tiruvarur district.


C.Umashankar IAS., (TamilNadu Cadre)
e-governance expert.
Moderator:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/eGovINDIA
http://sugame.com/umashankar
Chennai:
Ph: 91-44-52054443

_______________________________________________________________

These TWO sections are removed after discussing with Mr. Nandan M. Nilekani of NKC in Bangalore. This is for both of your file.

The role of NISG. Should a private limited company control the Indian e-governance movement? It is a peculiar happening in India that a private company registered under Section 25 of the Indian Companies Act (National Institute of Smart Government) has been controlling the e-governance activities of not only the central government but also many state governments. The states stand in queue before this private company to receive funding assistance for their e-governance activities. This group is of the opinion that NISG had directly encouraged corruption and lack of transparency. It has been promoting certain chosen corporate for the detriment of a host of companies which believe in honesty and fair play. The NKC may take an appropriate view on this subject based on the huge volume of materials written on the egovINDIA group.

Cheating in the name of e-governance. The case of n-logue and Mr.Ashok Jhunjanwalla: In the name of providing connectivity and internet to the rural masses, the women self help groups of TamilNadu and elsewhere are being deprived of their livelihood by a clever business plan played by Prof.Ashok Jhunjanwalla of IIT, Madras. This scam is targeted at the subsidy money received by the women self help groups from Government of India. Though the said IIT Professor knows that a 32 kbps outdated wireless system is not good enough for video conferencing, he has been promoting falsehood only to gain income though business. Mr.Jhunjanwalla is a Director in the company which markets this outdated wireless product. It is to be noted that every district has a District Blindness Control society headed by the respective District Collectors which monitors and supports blindness control. The entire funding comes from international agencies. Thousands of poor people get 100% financial assistance every year through this exercise. Whereas Mr.Jhunjanwalla has been promoting falsehood by stating that his outdated wireless system could provide a solution to the blindness of the people through video conferencing (Tele medicine). What could never be accepted in urban India is being sold to the rural women self help groups using Government contacts/orders with no benefit accruing to the poor women. The NKC may look into this affair and stop the cheating that goes in the name of e-governance.

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The E-governance Muddle – Dataquest article Sept 02, 2005

Posted by egovindia on January 22, 2007

The E-governance Muddle

What was expected to bring transparency in government transactions has got mired in a slew of allegations. Dataquest probes the charges made by an IAS officer against his own clan…http://www.dqindia.com/content/search/showarticle.asp?artid=74532
Shubhendu Parth
Friday, September 02, 2005
 

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. And if the stakes are as high as the Rs 12,400 crore national e-governance plan, allegations certainly fly thick and fast.

While this reporter, under normal circumstance would not have taken note of the “all and sundry” comments and charges that are levied by the dozen each day, for we Indians are fond of criticizing and mud slinging, Umashankar C is not just an ordinary Indian. Besides being part of the select Indian Administrative Services cadre that is at the helm of the country’s e-governance initiatives, he is also the member of DIT’s working group for implementation of national e-governance action plan.

BLOWING THE WHISTLE: For over three months now, the government has neither taken cognizance nor made any attempts to clear the doubts raised in the mail

Incidentally, the man who presently serves as the commissioner, Tribunal for Disciplinary Proceedings, Salem, was responsible for unearthing high-level scams in Tamil Nadu as the State’s Joint Vigilance Commissioner. Prior to his present position he has also worked as DC, Tiruvarur, and joint chief electoral officer for Computerization.

His allegations against the highest echelons of e-governance found credence, to a certain extent, when Dataquest was able to lay hands on a petition made by the Karnataka State Electronics Development Corporation (KEONICS) chairperson Manjula Nagaraj P to the Andhra Pradesh chief minister Dr YS Rajashekhar Reddy, referring to the possibility of irregularity in the grant of Government of Andhra Pradesh’s (GOAP’s) e-Procurement project.

While Manjula’s letter (Ref: KSDC/CHMN/349/2004-05), dated October 14, 2005, made subtle reference to J Satyanarayana, the present National Institute of Smart Government (NISG) CEO, as “secretary IT&C”, Umashankar decided to send him a mail directly seeking clarification on various cases of irregularities within seven days-including that of the GOAP e-Procurement project. The subject of Umashankar’s mail, dated April 27 2005, shouted: “Mr J Sathyanarayana of NISG-Are you corrupt?”

According to the copy of the mail, which was marked to the members of the eGovINDIA e-group on Yahoo, Umashankar had alleged an unholy nexus between Satyanatanaraya and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which warranted a closer look and smelled of the possibilities of corruption in the process of awarding several e-governance consultancy projects.

Dividing Satyanarayana’s term as Department of IT & Communications (IT&C) Secretary in GOAP and NISG CEO, Umashankar alleged, “One needs to look closely at the consultancy projects awarded by J Satyanarayana and you will see a pattern emerge. The only company to win most of the contracts was PwC.” He further stated that as the Principal Secretary (IT&C) in GOAP for four years from 2000, Satyanarayana awarded consultancy jobs to PwC for five major projects-OLTP, Social Benefits Management System (SBMS), Integrated Financial Information System (IFIS), e-Procurement and Human Resources Management System (HRMS).

where is the report: While the AP chief minister’s order was quickly followed, the attempt to avoid making the report public clearly defies the logic of transparency in governance

PwC’s job for all these projects, according to him, was to prepare the RFP (request for proposal), call for tenders on behalf of GOAP, evaluate the technical bids, qualify final bidders for commercial bid opening, and finally, to recommend and leave the decision to the government to place orders on such party.

“It may also be interesting to note that in some evaluations, it was just left to PwC to sit through product demonstrations without any participation of the government,” he alleged, adding further that during his tenure Satyanarayana had also recommended PwC to the commercial taxes department and the department of municipal administration of the GOAP as a consultant. In fact, delving on Satyanarayna’s role as the CEO of NISG, Umashankar has also alleged that the very first project taken up by the institution-e-Biz, for the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion-was archestrated to enable the selection of PwC.

When contacted, Satyanarayna, PwC, and DIT refuted the allegations made by Umashankar. The CVC, however, did not reply to the Dataquest e-mail that had primarily sought information on whether the Commission had taken any action to determine the veracity of the allegation and whether it had done anything to demonstrate that the allegations were false.

Coincidence Chemistry

Project Client Key Driver Consultant Vendor
OLTP Andhra Pradesh J Satyanarayana, Principal Secretary, IT&C, AP Ram Informatics
SBMS (Social Welfare) Andhra Pradesh J Satyanarayana, Principal Secretary, IT&C, AP PwC Ram Informatics
IFIS (Finance department) Andhra Pradesh J Satyanarayana, Principal Secretary, IT&C, AP PwC TCS
e-Procurement Andhra Pradesh J Satyanarayana, Principal Secretary, IT&C, AP PwC C1 (PwC as partner to the vendor)
HRMS Andhra Pradesh J Satyanarayana, Principal Secretary, IT&C, AP PwC Ramco
e-Biz DIPP* J Satyanarayana, CEO, NISG PwC CDAC-C1-MS (shortlisted)
e-GovWorld DIT J Satyanarayana, CEO, NISG NIIT (shortlisted)
e-Procurement Chattisgarh J Satyanarayana, CEO, NISG PwC Yet to be finalized
e-Procurement Karnataka J Satyanarayana, CEO, NISG PwC Yet to be finalized
Bangalore 1 Karnataka J Satyanarayana, CEO, NISG NISG Ram Informatics/CMS
e-Seva Andhra Pradesh J Satyanarayana, Secretary, IT&C, AP Ram Informatics/CMS
* Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Government of India

Terming it as baseless, factually incorrect and highly misleading, Satyanarayna said in a written reply: “I have been dealing with computerization and e-Government projects over the last 18 years. I have been associated directly and indirectly with over 40 such projects. Companies like TCS, PWC, Wipro, Ram Informatics have been awarded two or more projects or assignments during this long period. Does it lead to the inference of ‘unholy nexus’ with all these companies?”

Neel Ratan, executive director, PwC, on the other hand said, “PricewaterhouseCoopers has played a significant role in the advent of e-governance in the country. Being the thought leader, PwC was the first to set-up large e-governance practice in India and made significant investments to grow its capabilities in this domain. The e-governance projects are awarded on competitive bidding basis as per applicable government guidelines. Accordingly, we won some projects and also lost some.”
Replying on behalf of the DIT, the Joint Secretary R Chandrashekhar said that while DIT was not the competent authority to take action on any “allegations” relating to his (Satyanarayna’s) tenure with the GOAP, “the facts referred to in the letter relating to his tenure as CEO NISG have already been placed before the Board of NISG and the board has not found any substance in the content of the petition.”

Investigations by Dataquest, however, reveal that while PwC was not involved with the GOAP’s OLTP project or DIT’s eGovWorld project, as claimed by Umashankar in his mail, PwC did win seven out of 11 e-governance consultancy projects that Satyanarayana had been involved in directly or indirectly-either as the secretary-IT&C, GOAP or as the CEO of NISG. Was it a mere coincidence after all?

According to Umashankar, NISG opted for the limited tender route for the e-Biz project and just invited Crimson Logic (a Singapore-based firm), Haselfre, and PwC. While the four-month old Haselfre was disqualified in the pre-bid evaluation, Crimson Logic was disqualified on technical grounds paving way for PwC to corner the contract.

“There are several consulting companies like KPMG, TCS, Wipro, Satyam, Ernst & Young and Microsoft Consulting Services who could manage similar jobs and hence it is difficult to understand why NISG floated limited enquiry only to Crimson logic, Haselfre and PwC,” argues Umashankar.

While Satyanarayna’s defense that PwC was handling four of the 11 listed projects- SBMS, IFIS, e-Procurement and HRMS-as per the Global Consultant’s mandate to handle five core projects does hold ground, his reply that “the technical evaluation of the e-Biz pilot project was done by a committee appointed by the Government of India and headed by Prof Phatak of IIT Mumbai,” does not explain the basic question of why no other big player was invited to bid for the same. PwC and DIT, on the other hand, have maintained a silence on this allegation.

That all is not clearly overboard is evident from Manjula’s petition pertaining to the GOAP’s e-Procurement project. She has alleged that PwC had built the entire tender document in such a way-and again through a limited tender route-that KEONICS was prevented from participating in the process. “We really do not know why a tender of this magnitude was floated through the limited tender process and violated the norms of the GOAP tendering procedures,” she remarked in her letter to Dr Reddy.

The petition also alleges that though the secretary, IT&C, GOAP (Satyanarayana in this case) was aware of the irregularities, no action was taken by anybody “to correct the procedure and prevent the losses to the public exchequer.” Soon, the GOAP Jt Secretary M Pratap at the behest of the Chief Minister Dr Reddy sent instructions to the then GOAP IT&C Principle Secretary J C Mohanty for an enquiry into the whole episode. Though, according to GOAP officials, a reply was sent to Manjula within 15 days, the copy of the enquiry report was not made available to Dataquest despite several requests. Our Hyderabad reporter was, however, allowed to copy certain portions of the noting-most of which insufficiently answered the KEONICS’ chairperson’s allegations.

There is another interesting angle to the story as well, the one that defies all logic and raises a pertinent industry question-how vendor-neutral can consultants like PwC remain, when they also partner some of the vendor companies?

And before one jumps to conclusion or starts a counter offensive to this poser, here is another startling fact: While PwC was a consultant for the GOAP e-Procurement project that was bagged by C1 India, the two companies joined hands as partners to bid and bag NIC’s e-Procurement project recently. All this, while PwC is still working as the consultant responsible for preparing the RFP for the GOK and GOCG e-Procurement projects! (It’s entirely a different matter that Nextender has obtained a stay order at the Delhi High Court against the awarding of the tender till the final decision. Indeed, ITI had at one point of time complained that it was not allowed to bid on the basis of an eligibility criteria that did not exist.)

Needless to say, this is not the desirable situation as the relationship between the two companies may willingly, or unwillingly, have an adverse influence on the RFP for all e-governance projects being prepared by PwC, particularly, the two current consultancy assignments related to e-procurement.

To say that people at the helm of the affairs may not be aware of this or might have missed this, would be worse than saying that we are living in a “fool’s paradise”.

Shubhendu Parth

COUNTERPOINT: Read response by Srivatsa Krishna, IAS on the report “The Egovernance Muddle” published in Dataquest dated August 31, 2005. Krishna is currently working with the World Bank in Washington, DC.

Posted in eGov Muddle | Leave a Comment »

Mr Umashankar’s reply to Srivatsa Krishna // http://www.dqindia.com/content/spotlight/2005/105111001.asp

Posted by egovindia on May 29, 2006

Mr Umashankar's reply to Srivatsa Krishna // http://www.dqindia.com/content/spotlight/2005/105111001.asp

From: <shubhendup@cybermedia.co.in>
To: <vmkumaraswamy@yahoo.com>,
<umashankarc@yahoo.com>
Subject: Mr Umashankar's reply to Srivatsa Krishna
Date: Thu, 2 Feb 2006 12:53:41 +0530

http://www.dqindia.com/content/spotlight/2005/105111001.asp 

The Larger Question

Thursday, November 10, 2005

 I was amused to see the reaction of Srivatsa Krishna in "Counterpoint: Ring-Fencing the Good" (October 15, 2005). He has skirted around the main issue, which is: corruption in the e-procurement/e-governance deal. Instead of giving answers, it has raised more questions. Every Indian citizen who expects honesty in pubic life expects an acceptable explanation from the officials concerned in these allegations. The larger question posed by the chairman of Keonics on the e-procurement scam still remains unanswered, while the corruption dragon had moved on to Karnataka with the same coterie at the forefront. 

NISG, a private limited company, still continues to handle huge e-governance funds of the government, mobilized from sources such as UNDP, while other private companies are not given any such privileges. Promoting Microsoft's proprietary technology in e-governance at a huge cost, when open-source software (OSS) technology is available almost free of cost, raises serious questions too, especially in the light of the developed nations themselves resolving to adopt OSS in e-governance. 

It is imperative that the clouds of doubt on e-governance projects be cleared, as e-governance itself is meant for transparency and reducing corruption. The very fact that someone like me-who had initiated large-scale, process automation-based e-governance initiatives in district administration during 1999-2001-had started doubting the e-governance initiatives at the national level and state level, shows that all is not well with the e-governance initiatives of the nation. 

It is commendable on the part of Dataquest for having taken the pains to understand the true meaning of e-governance. Srivatsa Krishna, IAS, currently has been working with the World Bank in Washington, DC on deputation has aired his personal views. Equally, I have also shared my personal views on the subject of suspected massive corruption in handling funds meant for e-governance. There appears to be a design to monopolize the government's IT spending only through certain chosen companies, using non-transparent means. I have attempted to highlight this irregularity. 

I started my career as sub-collector in Mayiladuthurai (Nagapattinam district) and I was transferred to Cheyyar revenue division of Tiruvannamalai district during January 1994, when I refused to sanction 60,000 bogus cyclone-relief cases.

Then, from Cheyyar, I was posted as additional collector (revenue) in Tiruchirapalli district and thereafter transferred to Madurai (February 1995). While working at Madurai during 1995, I refused to follow the dictates of the then district collector to help siphon off central government funds meant for the rural poor. Again, I was transferred out. This time I moved the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), making serious allegations of corruption in the construction of cremation sheds for the poor. The Madras High court initiated suo moto public interest litigation (PIL) and I was directed to present the facts. I filed an affidavit and on that basis the Madras High Court ordered a CBI enquiry into the scandal in February 1996. Two ministers, several IAS officers, and others have been arrested and charged by the CBI for various offences. The cases are still pending. 

When I questioned the order of transfer and made allegations of corruption, the very same allegation (which is now quoted by Srivatsa Krishna) was made against me before the CAT as well as before the Madras High Court. But the high court ignored those allegations. The truth is that I had earned for the government nearly Rs 15 lakh, by way of interest, by depositing the surplus money of the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA), Madurai, in State Bank of India, Madras Main branch during 1995. There is nothing unusual about depositing surplus money in high-interest-yielding deposits. The finance department of every state government does it as a matter of routine with regard to certain earmarked funds. The deposit was in the name of the DRDA (government) and in a government-owned bank (SBI). I used my brother's contact in the process, when he was working in the Tiruchirapalli branch (350 km from Chennai) at that time. For having earned a hefty interest of 11.5% to 13% and an actual accrual of interest to the tune of nearly Rs 15 lakhs, I have been targeted by the accused in the cremation sheds scam as well as by a World Bank official such as Srivatsa! 

It appears that Srivatsa Krishna has easy access to the Tamil Nadu Secretariat's 'strictly confidential' files. Srivatsa is correct that I received a show-cause notice from the current AIADMK government in the beginning of 2004 as to why I deposited money in SBI where my brother was working. This is a confidential issue known only to me and the Government of Tamil Nadu. It is open to question how Srivatsa came to know about this strictly confidential subject of Tamil Nadu's Secretariat. Living in Washington, yet having access to confidential personal information file of an IAS officer in Tamil Nadu Secretariat raises serious questions!

It is a different matter that the deposit was made in Madras main branch of SBI, when my brother was working in Tiruchirapalli (350 kms from Chennai). Srivatsa should also be aware that when I served in Tiruvarur district as its district collector during 1999-2001, large-scale e-governance practices resulted in the district being declared the 'corrupt-free district in TamilNadu' by a group of prominent NGOs in Chennai. I was also declared 'the man of the next millennium among the bureaucrats in India' for e-governance work by the Week magazine in its millennium issue. 

Srivatsa had strongly defended the 'reputation' of IAS officers. I wish I could subscribe to his theory. As a joint vigilance commissioner (1996-97), I had the occasion to look into several files concerning IAS officers. My vigilance 'position notes' submitted to the government would disclose the extent of corruption afflicting politicians, bureaucrats, including IAS officers. Words and deeds should bring out the reputation of an honest officer, not mere gossip. 

As Srivatsa says, Satyanarayana and his NISG are not answerable to the government. This is precisely our concern. NISG, a private limited company, handles crores of rupees of public money. Without the Government of India agreeing to the proposal, UNDP (which is the sole financing agency for NISG) would not have agreed to invest a single penny in the name of e-governance. For that matter, no UN agency can spend its money on India's development unless it gets a case-by-case sanction from the respective ministries in Government of India.

As NISG is a private limited company, it does not come under the purview of the Parliamentary committees, CVC, CBI, or CAG. NISG does not come under the purview of the recently promulgated RTI either. The expected spending on e-governance is to the order of Rs 25,000 crore in the next few years. As Srivatsa matures, he would understand the implications of these words. 

NISG's board cannot enquire into allegations against its own misdeeds, not absolve itself of all the allegations! It would be like acting as judge and the prosecuted simultaneously.

The entrustment of promotion of e-governance to a non-governmental organisation-namely the NISG of which J Satyanarayana is the CEO, and the manner in which e-governance is implemented in the state of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka-requires detailed investigation. I repeat this is my personal view, not the views of any organization in which I am working. 

Srivatsa had also talked about icons in the IAS, in the area of e-governance. India lives in villages. Till date, more than 40% of India's population lives below the poverty line. India has its quota of great icons such as Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Ambedkar. Mahatma Gandhi became an icon because he chose to identify himself with the masses and fought for their freedom. Dr Ambedkar became an icon because he chose to fight for the rights of the so-called untouchables when he could have lived a comfortable life by looking the other way. Among the living, Medha Padkar is a living icon as she chose to represent the tribals who have absolutely no powers. An icon in the field of e-governance should have worked for the upliftment of these masses, using e-governance tools. No one has cared for the widows and the old-age pensioners so far, by using e-governance tools. Although the schemes for these marginalized segments have been in vogue for more than 10 years. There is no e-governance for the upliftment of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes who constitute the worst among the marginalized population in India. There is no e-governance in any of the rural development schemes of the Government of India or in any of the state governments, save for some computerized reporting mechanisms. Bribery, deception, and corruption are part of the lives of these people, who are categorized as 'below the poverty line' in the panchayat registers. Has any icon cared to look at them?

E-seva of Andhra Pradesh or Bangalore One of Karnataka could never come under this category. E-procurement initiative of AP has so many unanswered questions. Real e-governance is yet to be fully spotted in India.

We are not concerned with funds belonging to individuals or private companies. The subject relates to use of public funds to provide e-governance for the welfare of common man. It is a case of trust. When there is an allegation about breach of trust by men entrusted with public money, there should be proper investigation and if it found true, the guilty should be punished. There are attempts to shield the corrupt. The 'Counter point' of Srivatsa Krishna, IAS, only reinforces the resolve to fight corruption more vigorously. 

C Umashankar, IAS Commissioner for Disciplinary Proceedings Salem, Tamil Nadu

Posted in eGov Muddle | 1 Comment »

Reply from DIT on NISG and CEO of NISG – These are important questions which the nation needs an answer.

Posted by egovindia on May 29, 2006

Venkat Kumaraswamy <vmkumaraswamy@yahoo.com> wrote:

Dear Mr. R. Chandrashekar
Joint Secretary of eGovernance of GOI and DIT,

You have made the following statement to DATAQUEST on the report.

Replying on behalf of the DIT, the Joint Secretary R Chandrashekhar said that while DIT was not the competent authority to take action on any "allegations" relating to his (Satyanarayna's) tenure with the GOAP, "the facts referred to in the letter relating to his tenure as CEO NISG have already been placed before the Board of NISG and the board has not found any substance in the content of the petition."

Can you write to us who are all on the BOARD of NISG please. Can you provide us with copies of MINUTES of these discussions please.

Are you sure NISG Board did not find anything on CEO of NISG ?
What people are raising is not concern to NISG Board about CEO of NISG ?
Do you think all Consulting Contracts awarded to PWC by CEO of NISG is COINCENDENTAL ? Can you explain to us please ?
DIT is the one which started NISG, YES or NO  ??
DIT and DARPG are Govt. of INDIA entities, YES or NO?

How did you allow NASSCOM to be 51% partner in NISG as eGovernance Secretary of INDIA ? What business NASSCOM has in NISG or eGovernance of INDIA ?

NASSCOM is JUST an Association of all IT - BT - Companies in INDIA. They need to be away from these kind of partnerships. That too with GOI.

We expect responses from you on these questions and to our emails.

E-mail is an efficient and timely communication tool used to carry out departmental activities and to conduct business within the Government of India, with business partners and with citizens. E-mail has become an important component of any office automation system. It expedites exchange of information, speeds up the decision making process and reduces paperwork, resulting in increased productivity, reduced costs and better delivery of services and programmes.

http://darpg.nic.in/Content/Guidelines-emailDec04.doc


THIS I DID NOT WRITE. IT is from GOVT. of INDIA.

Expecting a reply for this,

Sincerely

V. M. Kumaraswamy, MBA

Posted in DIT - MIT -, eGov Muddle | 1 Comment »

WHO provided the information to Srivatsa Krishna, IAS is currently with the World Bank in Washington, DC. ?

Posted by egovindia on May 29, 2006

WHO provided the information to Srivatsa Krishna, IAS is currently with the World Bank in Washington, DC. ?

Is it Srivatsa Krishna former bosses – ???
J. Sathyanaryana of NISG  or
R Chandrashekhar of DIT?
Did Government of Tamilnadu provided the information ?


How can Srivatsa Krishna IAS officer working in a World Bank in USA, would know about CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION which is not PUBLISHED nor came up in any COURT PROCEEDINGS of COURTS in CHENNAI ? Who is providing the information to Srivatsa Krishna IAS

The E-governance Muddle – Ring-Fencing the Good – Dataquest response

The E-governance Muddle

http://www.dqindia.com/content/search/showarticle.asp?artid=74532

What was expected to bring transparency in government transactions has got mired in a slew of allegations. Dataquest probes the charges made by an IAS officer against his own clan…
Shubhendu Parth
Friday, September 02, 2005
Ring-Fencing the Good

Friday, October 28, 2005

http://www.dqindia.com/content/industrymarket/newsanalysis/2005/105102801.asp

Counter Point to E-Governance Muddle by Srivatsa Krishna, IAS is currently with the World Bank in Washington, DC. These are his personal views and not of  any organization he is associated with in any form or manner.

How can Srivatsa Krishna IAS officer working in a World Bank in USA, would know about CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION which is not PUBLISHED nor came up in any COURT PROCEEDINGS of COURTS in CHENNAI ? Who is providing the information to Srivatsa Krishna IAS

Counterpoint: http://www.dqindia.com/content/industrymarket/newsanalysis/2005/105102801.asp

Main Article: http://www.dqindia.com/content/search/showarticle.asp?artid=74532

 ———————————–

12 | October 15, 2005 DATAQUEST | dqindia.com | A CyberMedia Publication

Counterpoint

India singularly lacks icons. Neither does India know as to how to celebrate its icons. Much of this is true except perhaps in the world of sports, software and movies, where we do cherish our icons. This is in response to “The Egovernance Muddle” by Shubendhu Parth dated September 2, 2005. R Chandrashekhar and J Satyanarayana are not ordinary IAS officers — they are icons of the IAS, the creators of e-governance in India, and are responsible for creating from scratch, projects which have added tremendous value to the everyday life of the harried common man. If they had been born in any other country, like the United States, they would have been held up as national treasures. But, we, rather than applauding their feats, and recognizing how many minefields they had to go through professionally to make them happen, choose the easy path of sending an email or two, writing trash and innuendo hoping that it would substitute for solid analysis which ought to precede an investigative article.

Slaying middle class icons through an unfair and one sided trial by media is wrong and unfair. It is shocking to see that a magazine of Dataquest’s repute can lend its credibility to any sleaze and stoop to such levels.

It wouldn’t be difficult for someone to talk to a few rivals and concoct some allegations against the author concerned or anyone else and write an equally strong article. Will DQ publish that too? DQ must understand that the power it has, comes with a responsibility to use it sanely and not just find a conspiracy theory (and a conspiracy theorist) to fit every story deadline; nor can reporters be allowed to pass off innuendo as analysis, and rubbish as evidence to support it, all to permanently tarnish the reputation of an honest IAS officer. And reputation is the only asset that an IAS officer earns during his lifetime in the service. To allow it to be tarnished at the hands of a cub reporter, who has no clue either how to do an investigative piece, is simply sacrilege.

I have had the singular privilege of working with both these gentlemen for several years. Not once, not on a single occasion, was there a mis-step, or a dubious suggestion or even the whiff of being pliable or favoring anyone. Not once.

These are officers who would rather break than bend. By the way, for the record, I do not work with the government any longer, haven’t been in touch with Mr Satyanarayana since I left India, don’t have anything to do with e-governance anymore and don’t really have to stand up for either of my colleagues, lest someone is quick to dismiss my arguments as brown nosing.

I am doing so, only because I feel strongly about the general principle of ring-fencing the good, and know enough about the person in question, have seen the lifestyle he lives, have observed the decisions he makes from close quarters and the principles he values, to believe that the charges in DQ’s article are simply blasphemous.

Onto the allegations of misconduct:

[First] NISG is not a public sector undertaking. It is owned 51% by India’s best private IT players, and 49% by the government. Those very players whom Dataquest has put up on a pedestal, time and time again (and for good reasons), as national treasures. So Satyanarayana is technically not really answerable to the government, much less to every carping critic. He is answerable to the Board of NISG, which has government nominees, which he himself opted to do, by placing the various charges against him, in front of them. And the Board, in all its wisdom dismissed them as rubbish. A credible reporter would have checked this.

[Second] I have known Pradeep Gupta, a distinguished alumnus of IIT and IIM, and the publisher of DQ, to be a fine gentleman and a tremendous supporter of the IT industry. If all that is needed to be done is to send an email with some make-believe allegations, perhaps titled: “Are you the CEO of Cyber- Media or are you corrupt?” to make a DQ cub reporter scramble to write a piece that can tarnish a sincere and good person’s reputation in print, every business rival will send an email avalanche right away! If an over-enthusiastic reporter decides to act as irresponsibly as he has done now on every piece of gossip that he chances upon, perhaps to beat some other publication to carrying it, no honest IAS officer will everbe able to function in India.

[Third] It is a sad moment for the IAS, that someone like C Umashankar, who is personally known to be not corrupt and who has done some good work in Tiruvarur, has chosen such a medium to attack another service colleague. These allegations have as much credibility as the allegations that Umashankar as Additional Collector, Tiruchirapalli, deposited DRDA funds into a bank, where his own brother was the branch manager! (Incidentally, Umashankar himself has been served a show cause notice by the Government of Tamil Nadu on this and other charges, and jumping to the conclusion that Satyanarayana is corrupt, would be as ridiculous as jumping to one about Umashankar’s honesty before the enquiry is completed). Would it be fair to write off the good work that he did in Tiruvarur if some crank chooses to send an email or two against him, even if that crank is in the IAS or in the media?

[Fourth] Since when was it mandated by the Constitution that the CVC has to Ring-Fencing the Good respond to every piece of trash emailed to him by some cub reporter, which itself is then used as evidence of Satyanarayana’s guilt! Does the CVC have nothing better to do? Whatever happened to the principle of locus standi?

[Fifth] The story is factually incorrect about Umashankar being a member of DIT’s working group on the implementation of e-governance. Another example of factual inaccuracy in the story.

[Sixth] Is NISG under some Constitutional obligation to ensure that it equitably distributes its projects in a socialistic spirit among every Tom, Dick and Harry, who decides to float an IT consulting firm and bid for a project? It is quite natural that there will be firms who will get more projects than some others. Without studying every tender, their terms and conditions, the bidders and their proposals, how can [the author] come to such shocking conclusions so trivially?! Merely because 6 projects went to PWC—why even if all 10 projects were to go to PWC—does it mean that there was corruption involved? It is ridiculous to arrive at this conclusion, prima facie, based on just this and the fact that another IAS officer is saying so!

[Lastly] Just because someone goes for a limited tender, does it mean that there is corruption involved? Why is that route available to administrators at all, in the first place, if using it would be equated with being corrupt? Would any IAS officer ever be proactive or take risks to serve the common weal? And then the very same cub reporter, would write that the IAS is indecisive; that IAS officers do not take decisions, that there are delays in implementing projects of national importance etc. In such circumstances would even the most dynamic IT CEO of India, dare take decisions? And on the side continue to fight all those, from within and outside the system, who have no ‘conduct’ rules, whereas for the honest IAS officer every possible ‘conduct’ rule is supposed to apply? This kind of a thing will happen only to someone who is trying to do something good, not to someone who does nothing at all and is a mere spectator inside the government.

If DQ wanted to truly do an honest investigative piece, it should have found out the reasons for a limited tender and whether they were malafide in any way, shown that tender conditions were manipulated, that they were manipulated by Satyanarayana to favour a particular firm, and that there was a ‘quid pro quo” (as required by law) involved somewhere, to prove his malfeasance. To rely on emails floating around in a chat group as concrete evidence of proof of corruption against someone who has done solid, enduring work, and whose reputation precedes him for 30 years in the IAS as an impeccably honest officer, is a great dis-service to egovernance, to credible journalism and to India, all three of which DQ professes to serve.

It is truly unfortunate that Dataquest has lent its credibility to such allegations, which are blatantly false and that the author has not even tried to do proper research to determine whether they are right or wrong, in an analytical manner- it demeans Dataquest as a magazine. The least the author can now do is to publish an unqualified apology in print, as prominently as possible. In the light of all the facts in this article, we urge DQ to consider this seriously.

Having said this, I do agree with the author’s contention that RFP evaluators must not partner with vendors to form consortiums to bid for other similar projects. It’s a bit akin to what shook the world of auditing long ago when the lines between consulting and auditing functions got blurred in some of the Big Five firms. This is the only sensible point that he makes in his story.

The larger question is: how do we ring-fence the good? We are quick to point fingers at anyone successful—it is almost a national culture of crabbiness.

The only way to do so is to redefine collective security for the good officers in the IAS. An attack against one honest IAS officer, whose reputation precedes him, be it by the Prime Minister or a Chief Minister or from the media must be treated as an attack against all like-minded good IAS officers.

Everyone must unite to surround and ring-fence him, perhaps using methods similar to the civil disobedience that Delhi recently saw during the power tariff hike, to protect him from harassment.

Wouldn’t the press jump to the defense of one of its own kin, if they are attacked? Don’t lawyers go on strike routinely when another lawyer is targeted? Don’t brother judges routinely look after their brethren against false allegations? Why then can’t the IAS do so too? Why can’t the National IAS Association stand up, and ring-fence the good through some mechanism agreed upon? And identify, and weed out the bad? In the process, it would be a first step towards celebrating icons in India.

India needs icons, needs heroes, and desperately at that. Especially from the middle class, so that many more icons can be created, by emulating them.

—Srivatsa Krishna, IAS is currently with the World Bank in Washington, DC. These are his personal views and not of any organization he is associated with in any form or manner.

Dataquest response

The Dataquest investigation and report was  triggered by allegations made by Umashankar  C, IAS, in his mail to NISG CEO J Satyanarana, IAS. But that was not the only  basis.

There was also the petition sent by KEONICS chairperson Manjula Nagaraj P  to the AP CM, asking for an enquiry into  projects handled by Satyanarayna. Our report  was based on these, and on our discussions with the industry and other government  employees.

As a matter of due process Dataquest sought clarifications from Satyanarayna, PwC, DIT and CVC, and their responses  were reported. We requested Satyanarayana  to respond in four days (August 8 to August  12) and not in “24 hours”. Incidentally, in  the electronic media, response deadlines of a  few hours are commonplace. While we did  not get the CVC response till the time of  filing the story, the DIT’s response giving a  clean chit to NISG and Satyanarayna was  adequately accommodated in the story.

On Umashankar’s appointment in the  DIT’s working group on e-governance:

Dataquest has copies of the office memo of January 27, 2005, nominating Umashankar to the working group. And a copy of a letter dated August 12, 2005, reversing this—“it  has been decided that there shall be no permanent  special invitees to the working group.”

On NISG’s obligations and status:

NISG is a Section 25 company. A question that needs to be asked is: why should NISG, a company owned 51% by private sector  players, be given projects directly, without  any tender process? Several bureaucrats told  us they prefer giving projects to NISG just  because it’s the national institution driving  India’s e-governance initiative.

‘Cub reporter’ is not an accurate description of an award winning journalist with 14  years experience, including nine in the Indian  Express and elsewhere. Shubhendu Parth  won the Polestar Award in 2000, headed  CyberMedia News 2003-2005, and has to  his credit significant investigations such as  the Nigeria 419 scam report in Dataquest in  2003, uncovering gangs operating out of Nigeria,  China, Taiwan, et al. His probe led to  the registration of the first Nigeria 419 case  in India, and also caused the Hong Kong  Monetary Authority to initiate an inquiry on  some of the companies. —Ed

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

DATAQUEST

Cyber House, B-35, Sector 32-Institutional Gurgaon,

Haryana 122002 Fax: (124) 2380694

e-mail: mail@dqindia.com

Letters may be edited for brevity and clarity

Posted in eGov Muddle | 3 Comments »

Publication in Dataquest on e-gov corruption – The E-governance Muddle

Posted by egovindia on May 28, 2006

Publication in Dataquest on e-gov corruption

Data quest in its recent issue had written about the corruption in e-Govt.
http://www.dqindia.com/content/DQTop20_05/BestEmployers2005/2005/105090203.asp

The E-governance Muddle
What was expected to bring transparency in government transactions has got mired in a slew of allegations. Dataquest probes the charges made by an IAS officer against his own clan…
Shubhendu Parth
Friday, September 02, 2005

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. And if the stakes are as high as the Rs 12,400 crore national e-governance plan, allegations certainly fly thick and fast.

While this reporter, under normal circumstance would not have taken note of the "all and sundry" comments and charges that are levied by the dozen each day, for we Indians are fond of criticizing and mud slinging, Umashankar C is not just an ordinary Indian. Besides being part of the select Indian Administrative Services cadre that is at the helm of the country's e-governance initiatives, he is also the member of DIT's working group for implementation of national e-governance action plan.

BLOWING THE WHISTLE: For over three months now, the government has neither taken cognizance nor made any attempts to clear the doubts raised in the mail

Incidentally, the man who presently serves as the commissioner, Tribunal for Disciplinary Proceedings, Salem, was responsible for unearthing high-level scams in Tamil Nadu as the State's Joint Vigilance Commissioner. Prior to his present position he has also worked as DC, Tiruvarur, and joint chief electoral officer for Computerization.

His allegations against the highest echelons of e-governance found credence, to a certain extent, when Dataquest was able to lay hands on a petition made by the Karnataka State Electronics Development Corporation (KEONICS) chairperson Manjula Nagaraj P to the Andhra Pradesh chief minister Dr YS Rajashekhar Reddy, referring to the possibility of irregularity in the grant of Government of Andhra Pradesh's (GOAP's) e-Procurement project.

While Manjula's letter (Ref: KSDC/CHMN/349/2004-05), dated October 14, 2005, made subtle reference to J Satyanarayana, the present National Institute of Smart Government (NISG) CEO, as "secretary IT&C", Umashankar decided to send him a mail directly seeking clarification on various cases of irregularities within seven days-including that of the GOAP e-Procurement project. The subject of Umashankar's mail, dated April 27 2005, shouted: "Mr J Sathyanarayana of NISG-Are you corrupt?"

According to the copy of the mail, which was marked to the members of the eGovINDIA e-group on Yahoo, Umashankar had alleged an unholy nexus between Satyanatanaraya and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which warranted a closer look and smelled of the possibilities of corruption in the process of awarding several e-governance consultancy projects.

Dividing Satyanarayana's term as Department of IT & Communications (IT&C) Secretary in GOAP and NISG CEO, Umashankar alleged, "One needs to look closely at the consultancy projects awarded by J Satyanarayana and you will see a pattern emerge. The only company to win most of the contracts was PwC." He further stated that as the Principal Secretary (IT&C) in GOAP for four years from 2000, Satyanarayana awarded consultancy jobs to PwC for five major projects-OLTP, Social Benefits Management System (SBMS), Integrated Financial Information System (IFIS), e-Procurement and Human Resources Management System (HRMS).

where is the report: While the AP chief minister's order was quickly followed, the attempt to avoid making the report public clearly defies the logic of transparency in governance

PwC's job for all these projects, according to him, was to prepare the RFP (request for proposal), call for tenders on behalf of GOAP, evaluate the technical bids, qualify final bidders for commercial bid opening, and finally, to recommend and leave the decision to the government to place orders on such party.

"It may also be interesting to note that in some evaluations, it was just left to PwC to sit through product demonstrations without any participation of the government," he alleged, adding further that during his tenure Satyanarayana had also recommended PwC to the commercial taxes department and the department of municipal administration of the GOAP as a consultant. In fact, delving on Satyanarayna's role as the CEO of NISG, Umashankar has also alleged that the very first project taken up by the institution-e-Biz, for the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion-was archestrated to enable the selection of PwC.

When contacted, Satyanarayna, PwC, and DIT refuted the allegations made by Umashankar. The CVC, however, did not reply to the Dataquest e-mail that had primarily sought information on whether the Commission had taken any action to determine the veracity of the allegation and whether it had done anything to demonstrate that the allegations were false.

Coincidence Chemistry

Project Client Key Driver Consultant Vendor
OLTP Andhra Pradesh J Satyanarayana, Principal Secretary, IT&C, AP Ram Informatics
SBMS (Social Welfare) Andhra Pradesh J Satyanarayana, Principal Secretary, IT&C, AP PwC Ram Informatics
IFIS (Finance department) Andhra Pradesh J Satyanarayana, Principal Secretary, IT&C, AP PwC TCS
e-Procurement Andhra Pradesh J Satyanarayana, Principal Secretary, IT&C, AP PwC C1 (PwC as partner to the vendor)
HRMS Andhra Pradesh J Satyanarayana, Principal Secretary, IT&C, AP PwC Ramco
e-Biz DIPP* J Satyanarayana, CEO, NISG PwC CDAC-C1-MS (shortlisted)
e-GovWorld DIT J Satyanarayana, CEO, NISG NIIT (shortlisted)
e-Procurement Chattisgarh J Satyanarayana, CEO, NISG PwC Yet to be finalized
e-Procurement Karnataka J Satyanarayana, CEO, NISG PwC Yet to be finalized
Bangalore 1 Karnataka J Satyanarayana, CEO, NISG NISG Ram Informatics/CMS
e-Seva Andhra Pradesh J Satyanarayana, Secretary, IT&C, AP Ram Informatics/CMS
* Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Government of India

Terming it as baseless, factually incorrect and highly misleading, Satyanarayna said in a written reply: "I have been dealing with computerization and e-Government projects over the last 18 years. I have been associated directly and indirectly with over 40 such projects. Companies like TCS, PWC, Wipro, Ram Informatics have been awarded two or more projects or assignments during this long period. Does it lead to the inference of 'unholy nexus' with all these companies?"

Neel Ratan, executive director, PwC, on the other hand said, "PricewaterhouseCoopers has played a significant role in the advent of e-governance in the country. Being the thought leader, PwC was the first to set-up large e-governance practice in India and made significant investments to grow its capabilities in this domain. The e-governance projects are awarded on competitive bidding basis as per applicable government guidelines. Accordingly, we won some projects and also lost some."
Replying on behalf of the DIT, the Joint Secretary R Chandrashekhar said that while DIT was not the competent authority to take action on any "allegations" relating to his (Satyanarayna's) tenure with the GOAP, "the facts referred to in the letter relating to his tenure as CEO NISG have already been placed before the Board of NISG and the board has not found any substance in the content of the petition."

Investigations by Dataquest, however, reveal that while PwC was not involved with the GOAP's OLTP project or DIT's eGovWorld project, as claimed by Umashankar in his mail, PwC did win seven out of 11 e-governance consultancy projects that Satyanarayana had been involved in directly or indirectly-either as the secretary-IT&C, GOAP or as the CEO of NISG. Was it a mere coincidence after all?

According to Umashankar, NISG opted for the limited tender route for the e-Biz project and just invited Crimson Logic (a Singapore-based firm), Haselfre, and PwC. While the four-month old Haselfre was disqualified in the pre-bid evaluation, Crimson Logic was disqualified on technical grounds paving way for PwC to corner the contract.

"There are several consulting companies like KPMG, TCS, Wipro, Satyam, Ernst & Young and Microsoft Consulting Services who could manage similar jobs and hence it is difficult to understand why NISG floated limited enquiry only to Crimson logic, Haselfre and PwC," argues Umashankar.

While Satyanarayna's defense that PwC was handling four of the 11 listed projects- SBMS, IFIS, e-Procurement and HRMS-as per the Global Consultant's mandate to handle five core projects does hold ground, his reply that "the technical evaluation of the e-Biz pilot project was done by a committee appointed by the Government of India and headed by Prof Phatak of IIT Mumbai," does not explain the basic question of why no other big player was invited to bid for the same. PwC and DIT, on the other hand, have maintained a silence on this allegation.

That all is not clearly overboard is evident from Manjula's petition pertaining to the GOAP's e-Procurement project. She has alleged that PwC had built the entire tender document in such a way-and again through a limited tender route-that KEONICS was prevented from participating in the process. "We really do not know why a tender of this magnitude was floated through the limited tender process and violated the norms of the GOAP tendering procedures," she remarked in her letter to Dr Reddy.

The petition also alleges that though the secretary, IT&C, GOAP (Satyanarayana in this case) was aware of the irregularities, no action was taken by anybody "to correct the procedure and prevent the losses to the public exchequer." Soon, the GOAP Jt Secretary M Pratap at the behest of the Chief Minister Dr Reddy sent instructions to the then GOAP IT&C Principle Secretary J C Mohanty for an enquiry into the whole episode. Though, according to GOAP officials, a reply was sent to Manjula within 15 days, the copy of the enquiry report was not made available to Dataquest despite several requests. Our Hyderabad reporter was, however, allowed to copy certain portions of the noting-most of which insufficiently answered the KEONICS' chairperson's allegations.

There is another interesting angle to the story as well, the one that defies all logic and raises a pertinent industry question-how vendor-neutral can consultants like PwC remain, when they also partner some of the vendor companies?

And before one jumps to conclusion or starts a counter offensive to this poser, here is another startling fact: While PwC was a consultant for the GOAP e-Procurement project that was bagged by C1 India, the two companies joined hands as partners to bid and bag NIC's e-Procurement project recently. All this, while PwC is still working as the consultant responsible for preparing the RFP for the GOK and GOCG e-Procurement projects! (It's entirely a different matter that Nextender has obtained a stay order at the Delhi High Court against the awarding of the tender till the final decision. Indeed, ITI had at one point of time complained that it was not allowed to bid on the basis of an eligibility criteria that did not exist.)

Needless to say, this is not the desirable situation as the relationship between the two companies may willingly, or unwillingly, have an adverse influence on the RFP for all e-governance projects being prepared by PwC, particularly, the two current consultancy assignments related to e-procurement.

To say that people at the helm of the affairs may not be aware of this or might have missed this, would be worse than saying that we are living in a "fool's paradise".

Shubhendu Parth

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