Governance and Right To Information

Governance in INDIA

Archive for January, 2007

The E-governance Muddle – Ring-Fencing the Good – The Larger Question

Posted by egovernance on January 10, 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…
Shubhendu Parth
Friday, September 02, 2005

http://www.dqindia.com/content/DQTop20_05/BestEmployers2005/2005/105090203.asp

Ring-Fencing the Good

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

The Larger Question

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

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

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Posted in corruption | 1 Comment »

E-Governance efforts in Kerala : CAG indicting IKM // A local state affair is now part of a global corrupt mafia !

Posted by egovernance on January 8, 2007

E-Governance efforts in Kerala : CAG indicting IKM

http://cag.nic.in/cag_reports/kerala/rep_2004/LB_08_CHAPTER_IV_.pdf
is the original document of Comptroller and Auditor General indicting 
(the most dubious e-governance project in the subcontinent) IKM and 
Government (exposing the links that senior IAS officials have with the 
project and Microsoft).

"A review of the implementation of the project was conducted by Audit 
during February – July 2003 with reference to records in IKM 
headquarters, one Grama Panchayat2 and two Municipal Corporations3. The bilingual 
data base in SQL4 Server in MS Access format was analysed using 
Computer Assisted Audit Technique and sample test method."
==> Project clearly involves proprietary corporate solution.

"Government stated (July 2004) that the unutilised Central assistance 
of Rs 25.72 crore released during March 2003, according to ways and 
means position, had been deposited in the PD account of the Director of 
Panchayats. As IKM had utilised only Rs 2.37 crore during 2003-04, there 
was no justification to release funds of that magnitude to them."
==> (in this period we have farmers committing suicides)

"Wasteful expenditure of Rs 69.78 lakh to train technical persons                                                           
The expenditure of Rs 69.78 lakh incurred on selection, training and 
stipend to the apprentice trainees had become a waste. The Government 
stated (November 2004) that the expenditure incurred on training of 
technical persons was insignificant compared to substantial cost
benefits that would accrue from BOLT mode. The reply is not tenable as 
the wasteful expenditure represented 22% of funds earmarked for 
training (Rs 3.15 crore).."
==> 3.15 crore for training - includes food, accommodation, travel and 
campfire expenses - truly 5 star for a State like Kerala.

"Though the administrative control of IKM was transferred from the SPB 
to LSGD in July 2001, no fresh agreement was executed between C-DIT and 
LSGD for continuation of the project after 31 March 2001.  Government 
stated (November 2004) that steps were taken to sign the MoU between 
C-DIT and LSGD with effect from April 2001. Such agreement with
retrospective effect will not serve the desired purpose."
==> Conspiracy between State Planning Board and Local Self Government 
Department

"In the absence of higher level suitable provision for validation of 
data at an upper level, there was a risk of issuing incorrect 
certificates, as the integrity of the data input cannot be                       
vouchsafed. "
==> Even if it is technically corrected, the platforms and standards 
are proprietary and the risk  would only continue.

"The Government stated (November 2004) that online operation of 
Soochika and Sevana had commenced. But online operation of Sulekha, Sanchaya 
and Samkhya is yet to start."
==> IKM presenting plain lies before public with Government approval.

"Due to inadequate controls for authorizing and capturing system access 
logs, the security of the system cannot be vouchsafed."
==> Since freedom to access software components is missing, security is 
not there and can never be there.

All this and more at 
http://cag.nic.in/cag_reports/kerala/rep_2004/LB_08_CHAPTER_IV_.pdf
========
As of now, the Executive Mission Director of IKM has been promoted to 
be Chairman of IKM and is a member of State Planning Board. The earlier 
Planning Secretary, SPB is now Secretary to LSG Department (under whose 
control now IKM also comes). ==> simple switching theory.

CK Raju
Thrissur
______________________________


A local state affair is now part of a global corrupt mafia !

 

Its not just an in-house affair, the nexus spreads it wings beyond and 
extends them to bodies like United Nations - with a different theme 
altogether.

http://www.itu.int/osg/spu/wsis-themes/ict_stories/themes/case_studies/kerala.html

A local state affair is now part of a global corrupt mafia !

CK Raju -- doxa@sancharnet.in 

Posted in corruption | 1 Comment »

The 10-Point eGov Agenda

Posted by egovernance on January 8, 2007

The 10-Point eGov Agenda

The four-city DQ e-Gov Summit ’06 series generated a flurry of suggestions from e-Gov’s most hands-on drivers and experts from across the Indian states. Dataquest consolidates these into a ten-point draft charter for DIT and other key stakeholders in 2006-07

Shubhendu Parth

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

If the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) was a catalyst for IT adoption in the government sector, the Union Government’s 10-point agenda for IT certainly opened the gates wider. This was followed by the State Wide Area Network (SWAN) and Common Services Center (CSC) policy announcement by the Department of Information Technology (DIT), which brought e-Governance to the forefront in India.

However, there were still some issues. Besides the proposal to solve the infrastructure issue, a policy to take governance closer to the rural population and the political will, there was an urgent need for government process re-engineering, civil services reforms including a certain fixed tenure for senior government employees and the Right to Information.

From Summit to Agenda
What Dataquest did (from the e-Gov Summit to the 10-point draft agenda)…
Step 1: Changed the format of the Dataquest e-Gov Summit 2006 to make it completely participatory and consultative in nature.
Step 2: Sought feedback and suggestions from the nearly 600 participants, including speakers.
Step 3: Consolidated the huge list of suggestions into a 14-point charter.
Step 4: Had a round one deliberation with DIT to streamline the agenda.
Step 5: The 14-point agenda was then sent back to each participant for further feedback and suggestions.
Step 6: The suggestions thus compiled, were incorporated to create the Version 2.0 of the 10-point charter.
Step 7: Had a second round of deliberation with DIT to get its inputs.
Step 8: Publish Version 2.1 for further debate and feedback.
Step 9: Incorporate changes as per the feedback and announce Version 3.0 (this acticle).
Step 10: Push for adoption by DIT and other government departments and ministries and monitor on a regular basis.

These challenges were brought up for discussion during the Dataquest e-Gov Summit 2005 and we decided to push many of these demands through our reports and stories. Not only has the Cabinet approved the NeGP, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh is slated to directly monitor the initiatives. An apex committee chaired by the Cabinet Secretary has also been set up to oversee implementation and provide policy and strategic directions.

While the Prime Minister has already indicated the need for a fixed tenure for government officials; the initiatives for increasing PC and Internet penetration is on its way; and a committee has been constituted to create standards for e-Gov projects. Besides, the RTI Act is already in place.
No wonder then, the Dataquest e-Gov Summit 2006, across all four regions of the country, was unison in its view that the Right To Information (RTI) Act was the biggest e-Gov driver in India. The Summit also recommended that a certain minimum basic and uniform criteria needs to be fixed for baseline survey before starting any e-Gov project, besides advocating for a common criteria for their evaluation before they could to be replicated.

The Missing Link
Dataquest started by asking questions. Can automated death certificate generation ease the process and reduce the time required for sanctioning family pension or compensation by doing away with physical movement of files? Will automation of land records help the government at the Centre and the states in proper allocation of funds and resource? Can automation of Police services at state levels lead to better cooperation at the national level? Can any of the existing citizen service centers-Gyandoot, e-Sevaand Bangalore One-really help in streamlining the passport application process by improving the backend process? The answer to all these questions was a big ‘No’.

The missing link to ‘Good Governance’ in India is the lack of prioritization and cross-functional application of e-government services. For example, while many states in India have gone ahead with automating the process of certificate generation-birth, caste, death-the lack of cross functional linkage between various departments means that there is still no end to the red-tapism in bureaucracy and governance.

     
S Regunathan, former chief secretary, Delhi ������� R Chandrashekhar, additional secretary, e-Gov, DIT   Aman Kumar Singh, joint secretary to CM, Chhatisgarh   SB Sawarkar, IG-Prisons, Maharashtra
             
  ����� ������
Amod Kumar, DM, Faizabad   Anita Karawal, secretary�Administrative Reforms, Gujarat   Ashish Sanyal, director, DIT   Tanmoy Chakrabarty, VP and head-Global Govt Industry Group, TCS

Dataquest’s analysis of NeGP and the feedback from the Summit clearly shows that most e-Governance projects in India lack the project management approach. Besides, in many of the cases, the agenda was found to be purely vendor driven with ‘e’ literally superseding ‘governance’ instead of the other way round. In fact, in most of the cases, our study revealed the ‘e’ component was just being plugged in at the front end, without paying much attention to the back end automation or bringing about the essential government process reengineering (GPR).

The Summit also advocated the need for e-Governance in India to graduate further from mere process automation like in the case of e-procurement to process improvement, knowledge management and process intelligence in government system.

It also suggested that India should move beyond the NeGP and announce a National e-Gov Policy, which leads to an e-Gov Act. This could be on the lines on of the President’s Management Agenda (PMA) on e-Governance in the US, with the key objective of making government services and information accessible to the citizens within three �clicks,� while using the Internet.

Moving ahead from Dataquest’s first Summit, the 2006 Regional Summit across the four metros-Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata-aimed at addressing these issues by developing through a consultative process, a 10-point action agenda for e-Governance in India.

What have emerged from the process and deliberations, are the 10 practical and achievable steps aimed at making India a truly e-Governed Nation. The agenda also clearly defines the driver for each charter, including the role that responsible media such as the Cyber Media India and Dataquest can play in this space. While some of these action points can be implemented in 2006, others can be initiated and completed in mid and long term.

The DIT and Government of India are already considering some of the steps recommended by Dataquest. They have been included in the agenda to make sure that the implementing agencies monitor and measure its progress at each step. Dataquest would certainly follow it up by appraising the overall implementation during its third Regional e-Gov Summit in 2007. Apart from this, the magazine would also be constantly reviewing the agenda and updating it based on interaction with all stakeholders, the citizen forums, civil society bodies, various state and central government departments, vendors and the DIT.

���� ���� ����
GD Gautama, principal secretary-IT, West Bengal   Dr Neeta Shah, director, e-Gov, Gujrat Informatics Ltd   PV Unnikrishnan, executive mission director, Information Kerala Mission   Prakash Kumar, joint secretary, Ministry of Ocean Development
             
     
MR Rajagopalan, director,
CDAC-Chennai
  Dr M.Ariz Ahammed, CEO,
Assam SFAC
  SR Das, senior director, DIT   Satish Kaushal, country manager, e-Gov (SWG), IBM India

The Agenda

1 Consolidate Applications
Primary Driver: DIT
Support: Media such as Dataquest
Identify 5-10 applications that can be delivered centrally-public grievance system, issuance of certificates, FIR registration and criminal record, education record, 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 and other media would help showcase the successes, and both would urge adoption by other states.
It is also suggested that state could plan a separate data center for hosting state-specific applications and loosely integrate inter-state applications by using messaging systems.If states were to accept such an IT design, DIT could sponsor implementation of IT infrastructure for integrating all states, thereby creating India wide e-Governance framework.

2�Create Central Repository of e-Gov Resources
Primary Driver: DIT
Do a summary assessment of e-Gov projects in India and put them in a repository at the national level for reference and adoption by various states and government departments. 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.

Beyond the 10…
The Dataquest e-Gov Summit has added a new dimension to seminars, moving from a speaker-delegate model to a consultative model with participants contributing towards the common goal with their suggestions and feedback. Besides the top 10 ‘things to do’ as listed in DQ 10-Point e-Gov Agenda 2006-07, there were several others as below.

  • Adopt IT in education as a top most priority
  • Provide legal sanction for all Government-to-Government, Government-to-Citizen and Government-to-Corporate transactions either through adequate changes in the IT Act 2000 or a new Act
  • Include e-Gov initiatives as one of the parameters to decide allocation of funds for the 11th Five Year Plan
  • Identify not so sovereign government functions that can be outsourced.
  • Make IT component mandatory in all Government of India funded projects.
  • Make e-security and quality auditing mandatory for all e-Governance applications
  • Make it mandatory for the governments or department to own the IP of the solution /implementation to make replication possible
  • Make it mandatory that all e-Gov projects should necessarily meet the basic requirements of RTI Act (particularly Section 4,8 and 9)
  • Decide on a time frame to move all manual transactions to the e-Gov way and work step-by-step towards the goal
  • 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.

It would also include learning from projects about various shortcomings, FAQs, dos and don’ts and channels used, information about research and development funded by the government and related agencies in e-governance.

All projects listed in the repository would be available for optional adoption and replication and 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. What this means is that the applications can be put in the repository and a trial version be kept for other states and departments to use and test it. The actual use would, however, require license fee payment.

The Summit suggested that governments and departments should also look forward to adopting and encouraging the Pro-bono model as one of the options for e-Gov projects.

3 Standardize Record Formats
Primary Driver: DIT
Support: Media such as Dataquest
Identify 5-10 key areas-rural and urban land record, birth/death/caste records, contracts, FIR and crime records, health record, education record, driving license record and municipal tax record-and set up 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.

While the adoption would be optional, the DIT and the Planning Commission can link further funding for these areas directly to adoption of the format.

The common format would ensure that databases across the states could be linked to each other at the national level, enabling better planning option by respective governments and departments.

4Roadmap for a Resident ID Card
Primary Driver: PMO/Ministry of Home
Secondary Driver: DIT
Create policy road map, tech specifications and funding plan for a National ID or Resident ID card project. This would include one card system and common data structure at every level by initiating multi-utility, integrated National ID or Resident ID Card system that should be capable of accommodating new department needs and additional functionalities, as an when the need arises.

It could be similar to the US social security card or Singapore’s resident card system. The data from Rural Household survey, Election ID, PAN, PF account and Passport can be used as an initial reference point to take this forward.

The project should be driven by DIT at the initial stages for creation of unique national or resident number, consolidated database format, uniform specification for data collection and card issuance as well as security and privacy policy.

����� ���� ����
Dr Santosh Babu, collector, Krishnagiri District   Santanu Sengupta, CEO, Grasso   D Rajendran, commissioner, Disciplinary Proceedings, Salem   Umashankar CMD, ELCOT
             
     
Rohit Kumar Singh, secretary IT, Rajasthan   Talwant Singh, additional district and sessions judge, Delhi   S Abbasi, director, DIT   Rajan Varda, project director, SSK, UNICEF

5 e-Security and Privacy Policy
Primary Driver: DIT
A national e-security policy is important to safeguard information, particularly so when India 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 and e-security audit. An important first step could be the adoption and use of digital signature by all government departments by year 2007.

Besides, there is also a need to adopt a privacy policy by various agencies in possession of key citizen information. This assumes further significance with the increase in the number of G2C and G2B transactions being outsourced. This would also increase confidence of citizens and government departments in common databases, and of foreign customers in India

6 NDC Policy
Primary Driver: DIT
Support: Media such as Dataquest
A comprehensive framework for national and state data centers is important to avoid duplication of resources across states and at the Centre. The Policy would also aim at creating a framework to allow where required, interconnection of states and sharing of information (policy based) for better planning and allocation of resources.

The Summit suggested that the distributed framework approach be adopted for a national NOC. The states and departments should 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, being run at the national level by a third party or by NIC. It can have 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 such as Dataquest can push the cause by doing stories on architectures and presenting cost comparisons.

7 Funding
Primary Driver: DIT
Make available project based funding at the state level. The account model of DIT created for funding SWAN can be followed, making monitoring of fund utilization easier.

Three options have been proposed for ‘Project-based funding at state level’

Beyond the 10…
Define SLAs, Metrics
Primary Driver: DIT
Secondary Driver: Media such as Dataquest
The Datquest e-Gov Summit 2006 stressed on the need to develop simple metrics for monitoring and measuring the progress of e-Gov projects and initiatives on a quarterly basis. A similar step has already been taken for the SWAN project and DIT publishes the monthly development scorecard for all states.

The Summit also proposed creation of metrics for defining SLA and measuring the outcome, including RoI, scale and speed of deployment of a project. Besides measuring e-Governance initiatives by the supply side parameters, the need was also expressed for measuring the impact of these initiatives in terms of betterment of citizen’s quality of life.

The theme for year 2006-07 should be: One, speed of implementing a project, delivery of service and complain handling etc and second, SLAs to the ‘citizen customer’-both individual and corporate citizen as well as those involved in G2G transactions.

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)

8 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 areas, the policy is aimed at developing a guideline for e-Procurement and technology standards for the same. Besides, there is a need to propagate the procurement of services guidelines that have been recently incorporated in General Financial Rule (GFR) document. The CVC guidelines now covers procurement of works, goods and consultancy and services as well.

Also, there is a need to create a policy on user charges-tender document fee�that 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 constitute an expert panel, including members of PSUs, to create the standards framework, security features and uniform process flow for e-Procurement in India.

DIT can work towards creating technology framework, including security and standards and a monitoring mechanism for the same.

9 The Champion Pool
Primary Driver: Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DAR&PG)
Secondary Driver: DIT/Media such as 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 was transferred.

While 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 taken to bring about changes in the service rule. This will enable 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, the DIT can play the role of a catalyst by pushing the cause.

Feedback
What do you think? What key steps in 2006-07 will take India closer to rapidly becoming an e-governed nation? If you have a suggestion, do write to us at dqegov@cybermedia.co.in. We’re looking for only clear, simple, actionable, achievable suggestions for the Department of IT or related stakeholders, or a specific industry entity, rather than general statements such as �attitude or mindset much be changed�.

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 such as Dataquest. DIT can also look towards motivating the e-Gov champions at the district level or extend the process through Dataquest’s existing e-Gov Champion Award.


10 
Health & Telemedicine
Primary Driver: Ministry of Health
Secondary Driver: DIT (To create white paper and push it)
Keeping in sync with the World Health Assembly 2005 resolution of adopting e-Health, the Summit recommends that e-Health and Telemedicine be made part of the Mission Mode Projects. These can also turn out to be killer applications 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 number 2, the same needs to be integrated in the final plan on e-Health and Telemedicine. The citizen ID card as in agenda number 4 can also double up as the Health Card, that can be used to maintain an online health record of the person throughout his 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.

Shubhendu Parth
shubhendup@cybermedia.co.in

Posted in Governance | 2 Comments »

Expert committee on e-governance – recommended the use of open source software-Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu (ELCOT) – e-administration

Posted by egovernance on January 8, 2007

Expert committee on e-governance – recommended the use of open source software-Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu (ELCOT) – e-administration

http://www.fossc.com/News/expert-committee-on-e-governance-recommended-the-use-of-open-source-software-

electronics-corporation-of-tamil-nadu-elcot-e-administration/

To cut costs, an expert committee on e-governance headed by the vice chancellor of Anna University – central technical university – recommended the use of open source software. One such open source vendor is Lifeline to Business.com Pvt Ltd, an ICT company that has entered into a market agreement with the Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu (ELCOT). But before marketing it, ELCOT decided to implement e-administration in its own offices.

ELCOT is a government-owned corporation overseen by the state government’s IT department. It has been appointed to monitor the state’s e-Governance mission and is the implementor of policy decisions taken by the IT department.

Since April 2004, after evaluating other software, ELCOT has switched to a web-based, platform-independent e-administration software of LL2B that uses a Linux-based application. (Linux is renowned for becoming the global open source community’s rebuttal to Microsoft’s proprietary Windows operating system.) LL2B’s president V D G Krishnan said the open source route more than halved the costs, which could then be used to train users. This advantage has enthused the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority, Chennai Metro Water Supply and Sewerage Board and the Treasuries Department to go the paperless office way.

Concerns of transparency and accountability have also been the moving force behind e-governance and Krishnan believes tools such as his will open up the system to public scrutiny. Other ICT experts however, differ radically from this point of view and fear that e-governance could fail if the implementers internalised the inherent faults of the prevalent system into e-governance. “Technology by itself cannot be the cure for what ails the system. The person manning the computers could still demand speed money; it would require a change in value system of the society,” says Santosh Narayanan.

“A part of the public-partnered underground drainage scheme in Alandur Municpality pre-dates e-governance. The receipts for deposit payment have not all been digitised and there is some confusion about who has paid and who has not. Those who have misplaced the deposit receipts find it difficult to get duplicates because of this duality.” says an Alandur-based flat promoter.

In both these muncipalities the back-end operations for property and water tax collections are yet to be completely and coherently digitised. “The tax collectors during a recent a door-to-door collection drive found defaulters in their paper-based records among those who had receipts from payments in the kiosks. Many were forced to pay up a second time rather than face disconnection of drinking water,” says Mahadevan of East Tambaram.

Change would also be required in the government’s approach to e-governance, say experts. Though the need for a central e-governance directorate has been identified, it is yet to be set up. Tamilnadu’s e-governance mission lacks a clear policy guideline and the private participation has been poor with inappropriate tendering processes, especially among small and medium enterprises with innovative ideas.

Vivek Harinarain is the top bureaucrat for Information Technology in Tamilnadu. He confirms that Tamilnadu is in the process of establishing the e-gov directorate, which will take stock of existing e-governance processes. “With the metrics from the national e-governance action plan, the ELCOT has already started business process re-engineering to weed out the mistakes from existing projects”, says Harinarain.

Vijayshankar throws light on tendering practices in government that cause outcomes to go wrong. “For example, the government should seek those who will be able deliver birth and death certificates at the cost of Rs.5 per document that measures up to certain criteria instead of floating a lowest-bidder tender describing the processes that might not be cost-effective”, he says. If the government were to seek vendors who could deliver a service at minimal cost instead of describing the processes through which the services should be rendered, private participation would be greater, argues Vijayshankar.

Other issues about intellectual property rights violation are raising their heads with competing, sometimes even collaborating vendors, infringing on copyrights. With the government willing to give only an in-principle sanction for most projects, vendors are fearful if the ‘Antares vs. CommerceOne’ situation would not be repeated, he says.
(In July 2003, Antares Systems Ltd had sought CommerceOne and Andhra Pradesh Government be restrained from infringing its copyright in its e-tendering software product Tenderwizard. In its complaint, Antares alleged CommerceOne, along with Microsoft and Compaq, bidding jointly for the e-procurement initiative and thereafter, copied and reverse engineered the e-tendering software of Antares and deployed the software.)

Despite these difficulties, Tamilnadu’s IT department is going ahead with its e-governance initiatives. The statewide, wide area network to provide data, voice and video connectivity project was undertaken in the last financial year. Though late, ELCOT has started a standardization project to evaluate e-governance tools and enter into marketing agreements with vendors, as part of its e-government mission. “The less-paper initiative (LL2B’s e-governance tool) has won awards from the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances. It was an economical decision to market this e-administration tool. There will be revenue sharing between the ELCOT and LL2B”, says Vivek Harinarain.

In Chennai itself, the state’s capital, pilot projects have only meant online payment of bills for customers of Metrowater and the electricity utility, Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB). IT officials are now scaling up this project to cover other public utilities and other services such as payment of old-age and widows’ pensions.

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Key Indian IT services organization moving to Linux

Posted by egovernance on January 7, 2007

Key Indian IT services organization moving to Linux

The Electronics Corp. of Tamil Nadu (ELCOT), a government-owned organization that delivers IT services to the southern India state of Tamil Nadu, has decided that its projects will be deployed on open source software, including Linux.

ELCOT decided in favor of open source software because of its cost is lower than proprietary software from Microsoft and other vendors, C. Umashankar, managing director of ELCOT, said Wednesday. Open source software also provides better ease of operation and higher security, he added.

The company will migrate from Microsoft at the server and desktop levels, according to Umashankar. “My job is to save cost, and open source software delivers the same if not more efficiency at a marginal cost,” he added.

ELCOT negotiated with Microsoft to lower the price of Windows XP Home Edition to 500 Indian rupees (US$11), but the company was not willing to cut prices on the software, Umashankar said.

Tamil Nadu is a key state in India, and the decision by ELCOT to move entirely to open source could lead to the state government adopting Linux, according to analysts. ELCOT has implemented a number of applications for the government running on Linux, and the government is awakening to the benefits of open source, Umashankar said.

ELCOT is also a procurement agency for computers and software for the Tamil Nadu government.

Another south Indian state, Kerala, announced last year that it had decided to promote free, open source software in education, but would not make it compulsory. The government would like to avoid a monopoly by Microsoft and would like to provide equal opportunity for Linux and Microsoft’s Windows operating system in schools, said M.A. Baby, a minister in Kerala’s Communist government, in August.

India’s federal government has, however, declined to take a stand in favor of either proprietary software or free or open source software. Some Indian federal and state agencies have been beneficiaries of Microsoft’s programs to promote the use of IT in schools.

The IDG News Service is a Network World affiliate.

 

Posted in Chennai | 4 Comments »

Can Tamil Nadu Live Without Microsoft?

Posted by egovernance on January 6, 2007

Can Tamil Nadu Live Without Microsoft?

 

Tamil Nadu is one of the richest states in
India. It is flourishing these days because of receiving a huge number of jobs from foreign companies both in IT outsourcing and manufacturing sector. So, its state government can afford Microsoft products more easily than many other Indian states. However, Tamil Nadu state government officials feel that they should go for Open Source (OS) software as soon as possible. Rather too soon perhaps- within 2007.

 

The Inquirer reported:

THE TAMIL Nadu state government will shift from an operation that is 99 percent VoleWare to Open Sauce software over the next year.

In an interview with the Deccan Chronicle, Mr C Umashankar, who is the managing director of state-owned Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu (ELCOT), which is running the project, said that
India does not need Vole.

 

 

 

Fast, Indeed. Microsoft officials tried to convince Tamil Nadu government not to go for OS software. However, Tamil Nadu government found Linux much cheaper than Microsoft’s products. Guru Prasath Salem wrote in his blog:

He said a top official from Microsoft
India had met him twice to convince him to continue with MS products. The official offered the XP operating system for about Rs.7000 while he quoted Rs.500. “I explained to her that for a mere Rs.300, I could get the entire operating system, office productivity software and a wide range of utility tools, such as DVD/CD writing software, database software, multimedia editing software, vector map-drawing software plus a whole range of software development tools. Also, I have the option of downloading this entire package in DVD media and not even pay that Rs.300, which is the media cost and not the software charges,” said the ELCOT chief, an IT expert himself besides being a senior IAS bureaucrat.

 

So far, so good. However, if Tamil Nadu government really wants to make this project a success then it should arrange training program for its officials first. If the government officials do not get skilled in using OS software then this project will never be successful.

Posted in Chennai | 3 Comments »

India E-district :: Process Automation based e-governance implementation

Posted by egovernance on January 6, 2007

Process Automation based e-governance implementation in core
government functioning in Tiruvarur district of TamilNadu. (India)

Tiruvarur district of TamilNadu was declared the Pilot-e-district by the Government of TamilNadu on the 13th June 1999. The largely agrarian district which is located at 350 KMs from Chennai had accomplished
near total automation of the field level government functioning in Taluk offices, District Rural
Development Agency (DRDA), Collectorate, Block offices, Town Panchayat Office (local body) and
Regional Transport Office. Land record administration, rural development scheme administration,
student scholarship administration, public grievances handling, HR administration, Social welfare
scheme administration such as National Old Age Pension Scheme, Distress Relief Scheme, Accident Relief
Scheme, marriage assistance scheme, Agriculture labourers’ Insurance scheme, etc were migrated to
manual register free status, thus removing hurdles in getting citizen service delivery. Under the title
‘Power of e-governance’ the district conducted 8 outdoor camps in different places where the Taluk office
functioning was held in Marriage halls proving a point that the district could run government offices
literally anywhere, without moving any manual registers. Times of India, a leading newspaper in India
had rated Tiruvarur as ’20 years ahead of rest of India’.
Executive Summary
Tiruvarur district of TamilNadu State was a new district carved out from Thanjavur and Nagapattinam
districts on 1-1-1997.
Tiruvarur is a riparian district of the Cauvery delta. Its annual contribution to the
paddy production of the state is about 5,50,000 tonnes. Wetland agriculture forms the backbone of
Tiruvarur’s economy. Tiruvarur district has over 1.1 million population. Over 80% of the population lives
in villages. UNDP had classified Tiruvarur district under ‘highly disaster prone’ list. Cyclones, floods and
droughts are a recurring phenomenon there. The literacy level is 68% as per the latest census. The
district has very high level of poverty and associated backwardness.
Geographically, Tiruvarur is located at 350 KMs from Chennai. The district has 7 Revenue Taluks and 10
Development Blocks.
Mr.C.Umashankar, an IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officer borne on TamilNadu cadre (1990 batch) took over the reins of the district as its second District Collector on the 11th of February, 1999. On the date of joining the district had only one personal computer. This was kept in a box. With this one PC the
pilot e-district commenced its operation during February 1999. In the next two years, the district went
through a barrage of e-governance initiatives that resulted in over 85% automation in conventional
offices such as Taluk offices, Block offices and District Rural Development Agency (DRDA). From a single
personal computer, this backward district reached a level of 311 computers, including 32 servers in 20
different offices.
The district also had ushered in a wi-fi revolution by setting up the first wireless LAN using 802.11b radios,
connecting all the 20 offices coming under the district in 14 locations.
Mr.Umashankar left the district on 11th June 2001 on transfer orders.
The Government of TamilNadu declared Tiruvarur district as the pilot-e-district on 13th June 1999 thus
paving the way for experimenting various application software tools to automate the government
processes aimed at reducing the troubles of the citizens in their interface with the government machinery
in their day to day life.
Based on the pilot-e-district announcement, the district went ahead with the setting up of 4 software
development centres in the District Collector’s office itself, employing over 30 software professionals for
the development of e-governance application software packages. The Collectorate became a virtual
software development cum implementation centre.
The pilot-e-district rolled out over 20 e-governance software packages touching various areas of citizen
interface with the government. The major beneficiaries were agriculturists, land owners, students,
widows, agricultural labourers above 65 years of age, schools, local body population, rural population,
below poverty line people benefiting from social welfare schemes such as marriage assistance scheme,
pregnant women assistance scheme etc.
The district did not receive any formal commitment of funds from the State budget. In the absence of
budgetary support, the District Collector Mr.C.Umashankar floated an Non Profit Organisation named
District Welfare Committee which was headed by the District Collector and participated by the people’s
representatives. This Non Profit Organisation mobilised funds from various sources to the tune of Rs.25
million and implemented the e-governance programme.
The IPRs of the application software packages are owned by the Government thus giving scope for the
Governments to adopt the packages in their respective areas of governance.
By the end of the 2nd year of commencing the e-governance initiatives, the district reached a very high
level of e-governance thus enabling citizen services online in the Revenue and rural development areas
almost to the tune of 85-90%. It is important to understand that by automating the Revenue and rural
development wings of the district administration, the level of citizen services, especially the common
man reaches an automatic level of over 70%.
Because these two departments generally pose a major challenge to the citizens in their interaction with
the bureaucracy for getting the necessary government services. The level of corruption and inhuman
treatment by the bureaucracy pose a challenge to anyone who wishes to aim for better G to C services.
What happened in Tiruvarur district sounds almost unbelievable, yet it is true that the Taluk office
services were dispensed through 8 online camps during the period between 30th September 2000 and
11th February, 2001. These online e-governance camps were held in public buildings such as Marriage
halls where the servers of the Taluk offices were moved to provide online and on the spot services. The
entire online service was provided under the public glare, without using any manual registers. These
camps introduced one vital phase in Indian e-governance experiment that conventional government
offices can indeed be run without paper based registers. Tiruvarur had set a trend to the rest of India by
making the electronic records as the first source of government records and every other record, including
manual records, if any, were made secondary records (of reference) only.
Technically speaking, Tiruvarur had no precedence to follow. It had to lay down its own path. And when
it created a new path, it made it right. Tiruvarur introduced a novel concept in workflow engine suiting
the requirements of Indian bureaucracy. The workflow engine ensured total accountability on the users
and reliability of the database created. The result was that the users took complete ownership of the
records created using the e-governance system. They were ready to switch over to the electronic
workflow from the totally manual system due to the tight yet transparent workflow engine.
Tiruvarur also introduced two new concepts viz., intranet digital signature for the intranet operations and
a transaction based disaster recovery engine. The transaction based disaster recovery engine was
conceived by the District Collector Mr.C.Umashankar which enabled the e-governance system from all
types of disasters, man made or otherwise. This design got the Government of India merit citation award
during 2003.
The speciality of Tiruvarur’s experiment lies in the following:
1. The entire technical and functional areas of Tiruvarur e-governance initiative were headed by the
District Collector Mr.C.Umashankar who had no technical qualification to carry out the IT work.
Mr.C.Umashankar handled the front end and back end design of each and every e-governance package,
its security features such as intranet digital signature and disaster recovery design and he also validated
the packages.
2. It became a successful experiment in large number of areas such as land record administration, rural
development administration, social welfare scheme administration, civil supplies administration,
scholarship administration, driving licence issue/ vehicle registration administration, grievance redressal
mechanism, issue of various certificates in Taluk offices, HR administration including payroll processing
and so on.
3. It was fully accepted by the users (Government servants), citizens and peoples’ representatives.
4. It has a built in bilingual database interface. The vernacular language support with English as an add
on language option proved to be an important trigger for the success of the experiment.
5. Whoever worked with pen and paper earlier was migrated to the paperless electronic workflow, thus
paving the way for near paperless office administration. The level of back end automation was over 85%
in the offices where the e-governance packages were implemented. The total number of users in
Revenue department exceeded 750 and in rural development administration and Collectorate the
number exceeded 175. The coverage is roughly 90% of the ministerial staff of the district. Each one had
his/her own userID and password to operate the system. It could be a surprise that none of these officials
had ever touched a computer before the e-district experiment began.
6. Tiruvarur introduced campaign based e-governance services whereby the Taluk office servers were
moved out and kept in public places such as marriage halls and citizens were given services online. It is
a case of government going to the citizens to provide services online instead of the other way round.
7. Tiruvarur’s efforts were wholly funded from local resources. All the people’s representatives,
irrespective of political party affiliation contributed liberally for the e-governance experiment.
8. Tiruvarur introduced 802.11b based wireless LAN to connect all the offices coming under the direct
control of the district administration during April 2001.
9. The training and motivation of the entire government machinery was handled locally using local
resources. It may be surprising, yet true that the 32 and odd servers barring the three Collectorate
servers were being manned by these non technical government officials who had been trained to carry
out software administration cum system administration (limited to server operation).
Five years after commencement of the operations, Tiruvarur district transacts is businesses online till
date (October 2004). The users (government staff) own these operations as on date. They do not require
the champion to keep the services going.
Case description:
Background
As a person belonging to a poor middle class family, the champion of this e-governance initiative
(Mr.C.Umashankar IAS.,) had a perfect understanding of the role of the Government vis a vis the
common man. In the absence of technology tools, the Government machinery had virtually become the
master and the real masters, that is the citizen had become a servant. Lack of transparency, red tape and
corruption were the net results. The citizens in India, especially the common man, women, people
belonging to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes get a raw deal from these government servants. In
this context, the champion of Tiruvarur e-governance initiative decided to try true e-governance tools to
make the lives of the common man better. He also wanted to give a fair chance to the honest among the
government servants to excel in their job. From his experience in the past, he knew the ways of the
Government servants and hence he targeted the areas where the citizens got the raw deal from the
bureaucracy.
Indian administrative set up revolves around the institution of District Collector. Every State in India is
divided into small administrative units for convenience of administration. These small units of
administrative set up are called districts. Each such district is headed by a District Collector cum District
Magistrate. A District Collector is the head of the District administration. All the other departments
operating within the district come under the overall supervision and guidance of the District Collector.
The District Collector is the head of the law and order administration in the district. The police machinery
works under the overall superintendence of the District Collector. Apart from law and order
administration, the District Collector is also in charge of land record administration, welfare
administration, rural development administration, etc.
Each district has two major set up, viz., Revenue department and Rural Development department. These
two wings are like two arms of the District administration and they work directly under the control of the
District Collector. The Revenue department is in charge of land record administration, law and order
administration, issue of various certificates such as birth and death certificate,
community/income/solvency/nativity certificates, administration of social welfare schemes such as
national old age pension scheme, Distress Relief Scheme, Accident Relief Scheme etc. 7 Taluk offices, 2
Revenue Divisional Offices and the Collectorate (Revenue wing) come under the Revenue department
administration.
The Rural Development department is in charge of rural development administration. This includes rural
infrastructure creation such as construction of rural roads, school buildings, noon meal centres,
community centres, etc. This department implements majority of the Central Government sponsored
and State sponsored rural development schemes. These schemes cover community oriented schemes
such as food for work programme, rural infrastructure creation programmes, non conventional energy
promotion scheme, women and child development scheme, SC/ST welfare scheme and so on. They also
implement individual family oriented schemes, largely meant for families belonging to Below poverty line
(BPL). These schemes include loan cum subsidy scheme for self employment, rural housing scheme
whereby the SC/ST people are given free financial assistance for construction of houses in rural areas,
rural employment guarantee scheme, Self Help Group (women) assistance scheme etc. Tiruvarur has 10
Block offices, one District Panchayat Office and the District Rural Development Agency coming under the
Rural development wing.
Majority of the poor citizens who look upon the Government for their well being approach these two wings
of the Government for getting their needs satisfied. There is inefficiency and corruption in these offices
due to the large clientele and the large scale of funds being channalised through these offices.
In the above context, the champion decided to being in a fresh air in the public services offered by these
two vital wings of district administration. He succeeded in automating majority of their operations with
total user involvement and a very high rate of success.
Tiruvarur had been rated as ’20 years ahead of rest of India’ by a leading news paper ‘Times of India’
The WEEK magazine chose the champion of this experiment Mr.Umashankar as the ‘man of the next
millennium from among bureaucrats in India’ in its millennium edition during January 2000.
Objectives
To provide easy access to government services to common man, especially the people belonging to
Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and women.
To enhance the bargaining power of the common man in his dealings with the bureaucracy.
To reduce the workload of the government servants thus enabling them to do contribute more with less
effort.
To set a trend for true e-governance to the rest of India.
To make it easy for the District Collector to administer the district efficiently in such a manner that the
citizen gets a much better deal than earlier.
To achieve a life’s mission in serving the common man of India.
To learn more about public services using e-governance.
Resources
A sum of Rs.25 million was used for the implementation of the e-district concept. These resources were
mobilized locally. The Members of State legislature (MLAs) and Members of Parliament (MPs) contributed
nearly half the sum mentioned above from their Local Area Development funds.
The district floated a non profit organization titled ‘District Welfare Committee’ to mobilize resources for
e-governance. This organisation is headed by the District Collector himself and participated by all the MPs
and MLAs.
Implementation
The implementation had the following areas:
1. Application Software development for various e-governance functioning.
2. Creating infrastructure in the Collectorate for positioning the software development centres.
3. Selecting the right technical people for application software development.
4. Data capture to convert the existing paper data into electronic data.
5. Training and motivation of the Government servants.
6. Educating the citizens about the e-services.
7. Purchase of computer hardware
8. Making the 20 government offices fit for e-governance based administration. Creation of additional
infrastructure to enable them fit to keep servers, clients, UPS etc.
9. Finding resources for the application software, hardware and networking products.
10. Interaction with the Government for policy support.
11. Implementation of the e-governance applications.
12. Ensuring the citizen benefit focus of the e-governance activities.
The implementation strategy had been based on the common man requirements. The district chose the
areas where the services to the citizens were too poor in the first phase. This was followed by other
phases gradually. The first two application software packages introduced within 90 days of commencing
the e-district project were the grievances handling software and National Old Age pension software.
These packages were commissioned in the Collectorate and all 7 Taluk offices on the 16th May 1999. The
Collectorate was deluged with petitioners and petitions and it became physically impossible to manage
the service at all. The grievances handling software had to be developed in a hurry. The package was
stabilised by the end of the 3 month period but the actual implementation started side by side as the
district had no other way except to proceed in these lines due to the heavy rush of petitioners.
The OAP section in the Taluk offices was the neglected area in Taluk administration. This wing is manned
by a Tahsildar level officer. But the staff allocated to these wings were usually compassionate ground
appointees or peon promotees. As a result, this section in the Taluk office was considered as punishment
posting. But this wing was in charge of serving the citizens in distress such as agriculture labourers who
had crossed 65 years of age and have lost the ability to do labour anymore, widows, physically
challenged persons, deserted house wives etc. The beneficiaries under the OAP scheme get a life long
pension of Rs.200 per month. The problems faced by this segment of citizens were two fold. Firstly, the
application processing took as long as one year or more. Corruption and red tape were the order of the
day. Secondly, the selected beneficiaries got their monthly pension through money orders very late,
usually next month. The OAP wing of the Taluk offices had been saddled with huge arrear work. This area
badly needed attention. With the introduction of process based automation software for handling all the
OAP schemes on 16th May 1999, the entire district migrated to paperless stage with regard to OAP
schemes. The paper based registers were done away with. All the transactions were routed through the
online procedure. The money orders were generated by the system instead of manually being written. A
fresh breeze of air indeed. The turnaround was rather dramatic. From huge backlog of work, this wing
became no backlog wing. The turnaround took place in less than 9 months. Due to the no backlog of work,
whenever the visitors from outside wanted to see the OAP software functioning, the district
administration had to send out an alert to the Taluks to keep at least some work pending so that the
visiting team could see the online functioning. To that extent the offices migrated to an efficient level.
This had been documented by leading news magazines and newspapers such as CNN, NDTC, The Week,
Statesman and Times of India.
This was followed by the other difficult areas such as land record administration online, DRDA online and
Block offices online.
Software development centres:
The district had no financial allocation to pay for the application software development. No IT company
was willing to sponsor the application software development. In the circumstances, the district had to
mobilize its own resources. When the resources were not certain, the district was not in a position to
engage private partners for software development. So, a novel concept of converting a part of the
Collectorate building itself as a software development wing was adopted. Four software development
centres were set up in the Collectorate building and the 30 and above programmers were accommodated
in these centres. These software development centres were provided with quality infrastructure including
air conditioning, LAN and continuous power supply facility.
The District Collector himself headed the technical team involved in the software development. The role
of the District Collector was front end and back end design, validation and implementation.
The District Collector involved himself in the software development work from 6.30 to 8.30 a.m everyday
in the Collectorate. The entire software development team used to work from 6.30 in the morning. The
young software programmers coped with the rigors of the Tiruvarur expectations.
Today the IPRs of these valuable packages are owned by the Tiruvarur district administration.
The net effect of this strategy was that a total number of 20 application software packages were
developed, validated and implemented within a short period of 24 months. This was possible as the users
themselves were fully involved in the design of the application software and they were eager to own
these packages as and when the development was completed.
An institutional arrangement was made through the District Welfare Committee to continue the support
for the application software and database.
Hardware requirement and the Tender procedure adopted:
The district had acquired servers, fat client machines, thin client machines, UPS, laser and dot matrix
printers, LCD projector and power back up generators.
Hardware acquisition:
Servers: 32
Thin clients: 100
Fat clients:180
Laser printers: 18 Nos.
DMPs: 22 (This includes 7 heavy duty DMPs for Taluk offices to print the Money Orders)
5 KVA UPS – 4 Nos (for Collectorate)
3 KVA UPS – 7 Nos (For Taluk offices)
2 KVA UPS – 12 Nos (For 10 Block offices and two Revenue Divisional Offices)
15 KVA Generator set – For Collectorate to support the UPS only
6 KVA UPS – 2 Nos for Two Taluk offices.
As organized funding was not forthcoming the district had to make its own funding arrangements.
Instead of waiting for the funds to materialize, the district went ahead with open tender procedure and
finalized the lowest bidder before mobilizing the funds. By the time the tenders neared their logical end,
the requisite resources were mobilized from various sources. In this way there was no wastage of time in
the acquisition of hardware. When the hardware acquisition process was on, the application software
were developed using the minimum infrastructure available. Training and orientation programmes
commenced during June 1999 even before the first batch of computers arrived. The entire government
staff were to be oriented towards e-governance before the actual implementation process. The
motivation level of these government staff was so high that the district administration had no difficulty in
orienting them. By the time the first batch of computers (79 numbers) arrived during July 1999, the
initial application software for land record administration was ready. The newly acquired computers were
directly taken to a marriage hall where they were used as training infrastructure to train the entire
Revenue machinery, including over 650 village administrative officers. After a week long training session,
these machines were dispatched to their respective Taluk offices.
The next batch of purchases followed a similar pathway.
For the Wireless LAN towers and Microwave radios, a sum of Rs.4 million was allocated by the Member of
Parliament, Nagapattinam. The district could set the trend for the rest of India in using wi-fi technology
for high speed networking during April 2001.
Wireless infrastructure:
50 metre towers at Collectorate – one
45 metre tower at Mannargudi (Police tower) – one
30 metre towers in Tiruthuraipoondi and Muthupet – Two
24 metre tower at Valangaiman Taluk – one
18 metre towers at Kodavasal , Needamangalam and Nannilam Taluks – Three
6-12 metre towers – 6
Wireless radios:
802.11b wireless bridges (CISCO) – three
802.11b wireless access devices – 5. (six more to be installed)
Training to staff:
Staff training was undertaken on a continuous basis. In majority of the training sessions, the senior
officials of the district administration, including the District Collector took part. The trainees were given
hands on experience during these sessions. The District Collectorate became the centralized training
facility. Whenever any new module was about to be introduced, the resource persons from each office
was called to Collectorate and training was imparted.
The software professional in charge of the application software was made the nodal officer for handling
the technical requirements of the training.
Training manuals were prepared before each such training session.
User feedback was obtained then and there and necessary modifications were carried out thus making
the packages acceptable to the users.
Training was an integral part of the e-district exercise. Weekly training schedules were announced well in
advance to enable the officials to attend the same.
Software administrators:
To administer the Taluk/Block servers, clerical employees from each of the 20 offices were chosen on
voluntary basis to undergo training to act as software administrators. In each office two such staff have
been selected for a one week intensive training on server administration. Their main role was to
administer the software installed in the server and to serve as server operators. They had not been given
system administration password nor database administration password. The main role of the software
administrator is to start the server in the morning and close the operations at end of the day. Other users
had no right to shut down the system. In addition to this, the software administrators had the powers to
assign and revoke rights on each of the application software. This enables them to handle the day to day
variations in availability of staff. If the Software administrator goes on leave, then the standby software
administrator takes over charge. A software based tool had been provided for such online handing over
of charge. This procedure had enabled the staff to take complete ownership of the IT infrastructure and
the database. The software programmers were barred from carrying out any transactions at the field
offices. The Software programmers were permitted only to upgrade the database or application software.
Within a period of 6 months, these software administrators became experts in server administration,
application software administration and hardware trouble shooting. In this way, the dependency on the
technical officials had been completely done away with.
To provide continuity to these software administrators, an order was issued barring their transfer to
other assignments without the written orders of the District Collector.
Public awareness campaign:
Despite the online status of the Block offices and Taluk offices, the patronage of the citizens was
concentrated only on the Collectorate services. To educate the citizens that they could avail online
services in the Taluk and block offices, a special campaign in the name of ‘Power of e-governance’ was
organized in 8 places, starting from 30th September 2000. The modus operandi was to move the Taluk
office server from the Taluk office to a public place such as marriage hall on the day prior to the campaign.
Through advertisement and publicity the citizens were requested to come to the campaign centre to avail
of the online services. The promise was that the services would be provided within a maximum of 2 hours,
including enquiry time, if any and no paper based register would be used in the whole exercise.
This campaign was greeted with huge success. In each such campaign the office concerned could
transact work equivalent to nearly 6 months turnover.
Output and Results
1. The entire land record transactions have been moved into manual register free online status with
effect from February 2000. The agriculturists could get the cultivation and harvest certificates (Adangal
extract) within minutes just by parting with Rs.20. Earlier it had a variable pricing mechanism due to
corruption. Likewise the citizens could have their land purchases recorded in the Taluk and village land
record registers just by paying Rs.20 in person or Rs.60 through VPL. All the final orders were dispatched
through VPL when the applicant does not want to pick up the orders in person. Other land record extracts
were made available at a cost of Rs.10 in all the Taluk office counters.
2. At the Collectorate, the entire grievance redressal mechanism was made online with effect from May
16, 1999. Each petitioner was handed over a computer generated acknowledgement and action taken
report was sent within two weeks.
3. The OAP beneficiaries who were hitherto getting the money orders after a delay of one month started
getting the MOs on the 2nd or 3rd of every month. This was made possible due to the e-governance
based software commissioned in the OAP section with effect from May 16th, 1999.
4. Pendency of applications in OAP section was minimized to just one or two weeks only from more than
one or two years. Thanks to the e-governance software that provided for effective monitoring from
Collectorate upto the Taluk level.
5. Corruption in disposal of Distress Relief Scheme and Accident Relief Scheme where the family
members who lost a bread winner had been completely done away with as the entire sanction procedure
and fund disbursement procedure went online with sufficient checks and balances.
6. Earlier the pre and post matric students were getting Scholarship between February and April. After
the introduction of e-governance package in Collectorate scholarship section, the task could be
accomplished within one week after receipt of fund allocation from Government. That means, the
students could get the Scholarship assistance well before August every year. Thanks to the fully
automated paperless scholarship admin software.
7. RTO: Online processing of applications for issue of learners license and permanent driving licence and
online registration of new vehicles was introduced to weed away corruption. It was found that the RTO
was accepting applications only through touts. They were caught red handed by the District Collector
himself. This was immediately followed by the online RTO software. The software had been made to issue
the date for test driving on its own thus removing the touts in toto. This service was priced at Rs.5 for
each transaction to keep the infrastructure going for long.
8. Rural Development: The family oriented rural development schemes which concentrated the poor
among the villages and the SC/ST people had no transparent elements. This had resulted in delay and
corruption. The Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY) which offers free grant for construction of rural house had
been fully automated, right from the receipt of application stage. Similarly, the credit cum subsidy
scheme aimed at providing self employment opportunity to the rural masses was fully automated at the
DRDA and Block level with vertical linkages.
9. In addition to the above, the entire scheme and financial accounting areas of rural development
department were fully automated. The noon meal centres got their monthly ration allocation in time. The
staff associated with rural development department got their salary, increment etc on time, thanks to the
office manager software. The supervising officials and people’s representatives could monitor the
financial and physical progress of each work from various locations, thus providing transparency to the
whole system.
10. At Koradachery Town Panchayat office, the citizens could transact their entire requirement online.
This includes property tax assessment, water tax assessment and payment of utility bills.
11. In 55 fair price shops where the optical mark read based automation was commissioned, the citizens
could get their ration without any let up.
12. The policemen in Tiruvarur district started getting his salary and other emoluments without delay as
the customized office manager software enabled their entire HR operations online.
13. The Revenue officers who used to be missing for nearly two months during the beginning of every
calendar year due to preparation of Jamabanthi (annual audit of village accounts) accounts. The
Jamabanthi accounts are comprehensive accounts that require a minimum of 40 days to prepare the
same. So these officers used to be missing from public action during the Jamabanthi period. Tiruvarur
had converted the Jamabanthi to paperless stage whereby the Revenue officials do not write any
Jamabanthi account manually. The system generates all the Jamabanthi accounts within 2-3 minutes
thus saving hundreds of man months. From February 2000 onwards, the district had undergone 5 such
online Jamabanthi exercise. This had enabled the Revenue officials to won the Taluk Automation package
as they consider the software more employee friendly as well. The late night/evening works in Taluk
offices became thing of the past as the pendency of works came to minimum or just nil.
Learning points and conclusions
1. Politicians and political parties came forward to support the e-governance initiative at every stage.
Without their support Tiruvarur initiative could have never become a success.
2. The general impression that older people among the government employees would have difficulty in
learning computers was belied by Tiruvarur experience. It was found that the older people among the
Government staff were more enthusiastic in leaning the computer skill. They took over the training task
proudly. This had helped the district administration to train the rest of the employees through these
senior staff.
3. Fears of resistance from government employees and employee unions were belied. The Staff unions
passed a unanimous resolution supporting Tiruvarur e-governance. The Staff association leaders
themselves led the pack.
4. A highly user friendly yet secure system would be quickly accepted by Government employees without
any reservations or resistance. It was found in Tiruvarur that the employees were not willing to accept
less efficient workflow in the front end design. They started demanding high quality front end design
taking a cue from other packages already installed. Their demand had to be met before the packages
were fully commissioned.
5. The bilingual interface was liked by the users to the extent that without even any exposure to typing
skill, these government employees took a print out of the font layout and keyed in their work in
vernacular language (Tamil). This was one of the most striking factors found during the implementation.
6. The ownership feeling of the employees was revealed to the Union Ministers Mr.T.R.Baalu and Mr.Raja
when they came to Tiruvarur to formally inaugurate the Jamabanthi and Birth and Death Registration
software during June 2000. When Mr.T.R.Baalu raised a hypothetical question about discontinuing the
software in future, the employees, notably the Village administrative officers retorted by saying that they
would resort to State wide strike to seeking restoration of the software.
7. Lack of organized financial support does not hinder a true initiative to bring in e-governance. However,
organised funding is an absolute necessity to carry on an e-governance initiative in the long run.
8. A mission mode approach to e-governance with well defined milestones alone can bring about results.
9. Such a mission mode approach causes prejudice among the seniors.
10. Technically, without network infrastructure when such an initiative is taken, it takes three to four
times effort to ground a project. With a high speed network backbone the output could be much higher.
So a high speed network backbone is a must before commencing e-governance initiative.
11. Without policy framework revenue models cannot be resorted to. Even if resorted to, the same may
not last long. So an organized policy support has to be provided by the State.
12. For professional e-governance, the systems should be developed only on open source.
References and links
1. Tiruvarur had been rated as ’20 years ahead of rest of India’ by a leading news paper ‘Times of India’
2. The WEEK magazine chose the champion of this experiment Mr.Umashankar as the ‘man of the next
millennium from among bureaucrats in India’ in its millennium edition during January 2000.
3. Book : e-governance – the success story of Tiruvarur – the road covered and the road ahead –
authored by C.Umashankar IAS – April 2001.
4. Article: Nuts and bolts of e-governance by C.Umashankar IAS., (2000)
5. Power of e-governance videos 1. Mannargudi, 2. Tiruthuraipoondi and 3. Kodavasal.
6. NDTV coverage & publication in Good morning India dated 8th January 2000
7. CNN coverage and publication dated 7th January 2001.
Contact Information
Organisation: Government of TamilNadu
Name: Commissioner for Disciplinary Proceedings, Salem. C.Umashankar IAS
Address:
No.43(Old No.18) Pushpavanam apartments, 3rd Main Road, Gandhi
Nagar, Adyar, Chennai – TamilNadu (Res)
Telephone: 91-427-2311737 (Off) , 91-44-5
Mobile: 94443-82827
E-mail: umashankarc@gmail.com, umashankarc@yahoo.com,
umashankarc@tn.nic.in
List of case Domains, Objectives and Key Factors
How this case fits the Beep Knowledge map.
Domain: eGovernment in India
Objective: To improve the eGovernment demand side (the quality and reach of government services)
Key Factor eServices for Citizens Case relevance
Key Factor eServices: transaction based, non financial Case relevance
Key Factor eServices: transaction based, non financial Case relevance
Key Factor eServices: user trust and security, including identity management Case relevance
Key Factor eServices: user design and fulfilment Case relevance
Key Factor eServices: user skills Case relevance
Key Factor eServices: user take-up Case relevance
Key Factor eServices generating income for government Case relevance
Key Factor eServices providing social and financial benefits for users Case relevance
Key Factor eServices for permits and licenses Case relevance
Key Factor eServices: information based Case relevance
Key Factor eServices: communication based Case relevance
Objective: To improve the eGovernment supply side (the productivity and efficiency of government)
Key Factor eGovernment policy, strategies and management Case relevance
Key Factor Public agency human resources Case relevance
Key Factor Public agency own data security and identity management Case relevance
Key Factor Public agency technology infrastructure, tools and applications Case relevance
Key Factor Government process and organisational re-engineering within agencies
Caserelevance
Key Factor Government process and organisational re-engineering between agencies
Caserelevance
Key Factor Interoperability between agencies Case relevance
Key Factor Partnership / cooperation with the civic sector Case relevance
Key Factor Public agency finance, costs and revenue Case relevance
Key Factor Public agency knowledge management Case relevance
Key Factor Public agency culture and ethics Case relevance
Objective: To improve the good governance of society through participation and democracy
Key Factor Development of policy and strategy within society Case relevance
Key Factor Consultation and participation within society Case relevance
Key Factor Decision-making within society Case relevance
Objective: To improve government support for societal development (the wider role of government)
Key Factor Government support for infrastructure Case relevance
Key Factor Government support for economic development Case relevance
Key Factor Government support for social cohesion, culture and quality of life Case relevance
Key Factor Government support for environmental sustainability Case relevance
Case Characteristics
Keywords Government, eGovernment, eAdministration, eGovernment business services,
eGovernment citizens services, eGovernment culture, eGovernment benefits for
users, eGovernment finance, eGovernment generating income for government,
eGovernment permits and licenses, eGovernment registration services,
eGovernment technology, eGovernance, Data security, Authentification, Security,
Design for All, Usability, Learning, Upgrading skills, eGovernment policy,
eGovernment process re-engineering, Public-Civil Partnerships, Knowledge
Management, Public service ethic, eGovernment human resources, Economic
development, Quality of life, Social cohesion, Environmental sustainability
Timing: Start (2 / 1999) Termination (6 / 2001)
Country groups Asian countries, countries (GLOBAL)
Geographic location INDIA
• Large Town – 100,000 to 500,000 inhabitants
• Medium city – 1 million to 5 million inhabitants
Geographic size:
Main Actors
Types of people who are contributors: 2 Members of Parliament 6 Members of State Legislature 10
Panchayat Union Chair Persons. 1 Chairman of District Panchayat. 10 members of District Welfare
Committee (NGO) Over 1000 employees, including 660 Village Administrative Officers. Traders and
business houses. 34 software professionals District Collector (author)
Number of people directly responsible for, or contributing to, the case – persons who have an interest
or involvement in the case but are not the ultimate beneficiaries of it: 1100
Number of people directly benefiting from the case: 1200000
Type of organisation
Contributors • Mixed public/private/not-for-profit
Specific social/citizens groups
Beneficiaries • Students/youth
• Local community
• Families
• Households
• Elderly
• Disabled
• Unemployed
• Ethnic / non-national
• Women
• Men
Skills of individual
Contributors • Change management skills
Beneficiaries • Domain skills
• ICT skills (specialised/advanced)
• Change management skills
ICTs
Generic type of service
Contributors • Interactive data service
Beneficiaries • Multipoint conversational service
Generic type of infrastructure platform
Wireless Network 802.11b
Contributors • Specialised
Generic type of user terminal
2/3rd windows based fat clients/servers (over 211) 1/3rd thin clients
(100)
Contributors • PCs connected on a local network
Specialized workstation (different to a standard PC)
Beneficiaries • PCs connected on a local network
Type/Field of application
The e-governance application software packages were aimed at making the living of the common man
easy and corruption free. The effort targeted rural population, women, physically challenged people,
widows, below poverty line families, poor students in schools and colleges, Transport licence seekers,
infrastructure creation in the rural and urban areas etc.
Contributors • Government to Government G2G
• Government to Citizens G2C
• Government to Civic Sector
Beneficiaries • Government to Government G2G
• Government to Citizens G2C
Investments and Costs
Investment whole case Time period covered (in months)
Investment amount
(in thousand Euro)
Regional 27 443400
Cost Expenditure for case
Actual components,
plus comments and
timing (in months) if
known
Cost
amount
(in
thousand
Euro)
Expenses for end user hardware Examples: PCs,
laptops, mobiles, PDAs, local printers, etc.
One laptop and over 280
clients
301512
Expenses for end user software Examples:
off-the-shelf applications/tools, client software,
etc.
Windows operating system for
the servers and clients.
17736
Expenses for system hardware Examples: servers,
routers, switches, networks, centralised storage
media, centralised printers, etc.
33 servers, over 20 switches,
wireless LAN towers in 14
places, over 30 laser printers,
over 30 DMPs etc.
70944
Expenses for developments and changes
Examples: applications development, software
programming, software modification, content
developments such as populating a database,
integrating new software with existing tools or
designing new Internet/web-based facilities, etc.
In house application software
development done in 4
software development
centres at the Collectorate
employing over 30 software
professionals.
Rs.30 lakhs
53208
Expenses for actions of implementation Examples:
planning, surveying user requirements, pilot
testing, evaluation, etc.
development centres at the
Collectorate employing over
30 software professionals.
17736
Expenses for training and technical support
Examples: courses funded by organisation, hiring
45472
trainers, etc.
Expenses for other activities/purchases Wireless radios 35472

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