E-Governance is in essence, the application of Information and Communications Technology to government functioning in order to create ‘Simple, Moral, Accountable, Responsive and Transparent’ (SMART) governance.
E-Governance refers to the use by government agencies of Information Technologies (such as Wide Area Networks, the Internet and mobile computing) that have the ability to transform relations with citizens, businesses, and various arms of government resulting in better delivery of government services to citizens, improved interactions with business and industry, citizen empowerment through access to information, or more efficient government management.
E-Governance comprises decisional processes and the use of ICT for wider participation of citizens in public affairs. Citizens are participants in e-Governance. The purpose of implementing e-Governance is to improve governance processes and outcomes with a view to improving the delivery of public services to citizens.
The resultant benefits are less corruption, increased transparency, greater convenience, revenue growth, and cost reductions.
Analogous to e-commerce, which allows business to transact with each other more efficiently (B2B) and brings customers closer to businesses (B2C), e-government aims to make the interaction between government and citizens (G2C), government and business enterprises (G2B), and inter-agency relationships (G2G) more friendly, convenient, transparent, and inexpensive.
The revolution in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) has brought a whole new agenda for governance into the realm of possibility.
The resulting impacts are reduced costs, lesser corruption, increased transparency, revenue growth and convenience for the citizenry.
Process Re-Engineering and Use of Information Technology
The provision of service delivery at the district and sub-district level provides a fertile ground for innovative use of information technology. There have been a number of experiments in different sectoral areas in this regard such as Jan Seva Kedras in Ahmedabad, e-district model of Tiruvarur in Tamil Nadu, Mahiti Shakti Kendras in Panchmahal, Gujarat, Saukaryam in Vishakapatnam, Lok Mitra in Hamirpur, Himachal Pradesh etc.
By and large, e-Governance initiatives at the district and sub-district levels have been individual driven, particularly by the concerned Collector. The scale and quality of replication of successful initiatives has been weak. To create the necessary impetus and enable uniformity/standardization, the role of the STATE assumes critical importance.
The state must provide a holistic approach and broad framework for enabling e-governance at the district level. The recent effort of the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances to evolve an e-District framework is a step in the right direction. States must use this forum to prepare an e-District Plan for their State. At the same time, a thorough review of current processes involved in different services delivered must be undertaken to streamline the delivery system and reduce the human interface.
The following steps are important in this context:
a) Development of an e-District framework applicable to all districts based on which ICT initiatives may be undertaken by respective districts.
b) Comprehensive classification of rules, guidelines and procedures is necessary for efficient service delivery and better understanding among both the officers and the general public.
c) Delegation of adequate powers and responsibilities needs to be done so that unnecessary file movements and resultant delays may be avoided.
d) Standardization of application forms and categorization of nature of applications and petitions based on priority and frequency.
e) Codification and classification of common grievances with processing time mentioned and separate records may be maintained department-wise for tracking them.
f) Introducing a IT based mechanism for feedback and grievance redressal wherein public grievances are attended to within specified timelines in a transparent manner.
Every functionary must be made accountable for the effective and timely redressal of public grievances through a systematic monitoring process.
g) Developing a reliable central district database through which data collection from the grassroot level with the help of local revenue administration machinery can be done. The database must contain block and circle-wise information on population, PHCs, PDS outlets, Police stations, schemes implemented, fund sanctioned, beneficiaries under the scheme etc.
h) Undertaking computerisation of land records for provision of information and services pertaining to land related matters such as computerized copy of mutations, ROR etc.
i) Providing e-governance services through the front-end service delivery nodes for rendering important services such as:
• Payments of user charges (telephone, electricity, water supply and other bills), fees, taxes etc.
• Online submission and tracking of applications (alongwith the name of officer with whom pending).
• Online invitation of tenders and transparency in the process of selection of suppliers and contractors.
• Complaints and grievances sent online to concerned departments, which after a fixed date gets automatically reported to the next higher authority
• Scheme related information like list of beneficiaries, criteria of selection, entitlements under schemes etc.
j) Making the National Identity Cards a tool for service delivery and issue of certificates.
k) Networking all branches in the District Collector’s office with district and sub-district offices would help ensure information sharing and facilitate convergence of services and delivery mechanism.
Challenges in Implementation
As government organizations function at varying degrees of IT-preparedness, there is first of all a need for building an environment within government organizations at various levels which is conducive to e-Governance. This would require computerization of the lowest possible unit, as well as building capacity at the individual level which recognizes the need for reforms in processes using modern technology.
The basic challenges in implementation are:
i) The will to change: Decades of following a particular mode of governance procedure tends to develop inertia and resistance to change. Further, old skills and habits will require to be replaced with new skills and new processes if e-Governance is to sustain. There has to be a strong will from within the government itself to crossover from the present system to e-Governance.
ii) Political support at the highest level: The vast scope of e-Governance combined with the enormous task of process re-engineering which will be necessary at various levels and the infrastructural and financial requirement necessarily call for commitment to the vision of e-Governance at the highest political level. A bottom-up approach will not suffice.
iii) Incentives: Weaning government entities from the mechanical application of technology to adoption of e-Governance tools will require incentivising e-Governance among different entities and individuals. These incentives need to be reflected in the budgetary allocations.
iv) Awareness: Apart from building capabilities within the government, there is need for generating widespread awareness among the public at large. The success of e-Governance lies in increasing the number of electronic interactions between citizens and the government and not merely in building the infrastructure of e-Governance. In addition to governmental measures, a proactive approach from civil society groups would also generate greater demand and acceptance for e-Governance initiatives. Further, this would also require the adoption of ‘quality’ as a mission of governance, as was done in Japan.
v) Overcoming resistance to change: e-Governance has to be a collective effort. However, in every organization, there are people who would not be convinced about its benefits or who would perceive it as a challenge to certain entrenched interests. Such resistance would need to be overcome by demonstrating the potential benefits of e-Governance; how it strengthens the organization internally, creates goodwill externally and above all, enhances citizens’ satisfaction.
vi) Training and capacity building: Training would have to be imparted to government officials starting right from the cutting edge level so that any apprehensions of intrusive technology is removed and e-Governance is accepted as an achievable and desirable target.
Second ARC Recommendations for Successful Implementation of Projects"
A) Building a Congenial Environment
Building a congenial environment is a sine qua non for successful implementation of e-Governance initiatives.
This should be achieved by:
• Creating and displaying a will to change within the government
• Providing political support at the highest level
• Incentivizing e-Governance and overcoming the resistance to change within government
• Creating awareness in the public with a view to generating a demand for change.
B) Identification of e-Governance Projects and Prioritisation
Within the overall framework of governance reform, e-Governance initiatives are undertaken to serve some basic needs:
• To provide information and services to the citizen which are qualitatively superior to those currently available and are provided in a less cumbersome manner.
• To re-engineer governmental processes to achieve the above and also to make the system more efficient, transparent, accountable and cost-effective.
• To strengthen the decision-making process through connectivity and transmission and analysis of large amounts of data.
Measures to be taken:
• Government organizations/departments at Union and State Government levels need to identify e-Governance initiatives which could be undertaken within their functional domain, keeping the needs of the citizens in mind. Such initiatives may be categorized as follows:
i) Initiatives which would provide timely and useful information to the citizens.
ii) Initiatives which would not require the creation of a database for providing useful services to the citizens. This may include initiatives where database may be created prospectively without waiting for the updation of historical data.
iii) Initiatives which allow for making elementary online transactions including payment for services.
iv) Initiatives which require verification of information/data submitted online.
v) Initiatives which require creation and integration of complex databases.
• Instead of implementing all such initiatives at one go, these should be implemented after prioritizing them on the basis of ease of implementation, which would generally follow the categories mentioned above in that order. However, suitable modifications in their prioritization may be made by organizations/departments on the basis of the needs of and likely impact on citizens.
• Respective Departments of Information Technology at the Union and State Government levels should coordinate between organizations and provide technical support if needed, in the task of identification and prioritisation.
C) Business Process Re-engineering (BPR)
Measures to be taken
• For every function a government organisation performs and every service or information it is required to provide, there should be a step-by-step analysis of each process to ensure its rationality and simplicity.
• Such analysis should incorporate the viewpoints of all stakeholders, while maintaining the citizen-centricity of the exercise.
• After identifying steps which are redundant or which require simplification, and which are adaptable to e-Governance, the provisions of the law, rules, regulations, instructions, codes, manuals, etc. which form their basis should also be identified.
• Following this exercise, governmental forms, processes and structures should be re-designed to make them adaptable to e-Governance, backed by procedural, institutional and legal changes.
D) Capacity Building and Creating Awareness
• Capacity building efforts must attend to both the organizational capacity building as also the professional and skills upgradation of individuals associated with the implementation of e-Governance projects.
• Each government organization must conduct a capacity assessment which should form the basis for training their personnel. Such capacity assessment may be carried out by the State Department of Information Technology in case of State Governments, and the Union Department of Information Technology in the Centre. Organisations should prepare a roadmap for enhancing the capabilities of both their employees and the organization.
• A network of training institutions needs to be created in the States with the Administrative Training Institutes at the apex. The Administrative Training Institutes in various States should take up capacity building programmes in e-Governance, by establishing strong e-Governance wings. ATIs need to be strengthened under the NeGP.
• State Governments should operationalise the Capacity Building Roadmap (CBRMs), under the overall guidance and support of the DIT, Government of India.
• Lessons learnt from previous successful e-Governance initiatives should be incorporated in training programmes.
Recent Award Winning Initiatives in e-governance at District Level
1. E-DISTRICT SERVICES THROUGH E-SEVAI CENTRES, INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY DEPARTMENT, GOVT OF TAMIL NADU.
E-Sevai Center acts as a front-end delivery point for Government, Private and Social sector services to rural citizens.
• Provision of Citizen Centric Services
• NeGP Mission mode projects and other services
• Access to Internet- Commom access e-Learning
• e-Sevai Center acts as a front-end delivery point for Government, Private and Social sector services to rural citizens. The objective of the e-Sevai centres are:
• To develop a platform that can enable various organizations to integrate their social and commercial goals for the benefit of rural population.
• To deliver services in 'Simple, Moral, Accountable, Responsive and transparent'(SMART) and most cost effective manner.
2. E-DISTRICT SERVICES IN KERALA BY STATE GOVERNMENT
Kerala E-District project intend to provide Government services to citizens through Common Service Centers(CSC) which are easily accessible. Services from different departments are brought under one umbrella at any CSC.
Some of the services are also made available through online portal. It utilizes backend computerization to e-enable the delivery of services and ensures transparency and uniform application of rules. The project involves integrated and seamless delivery of services to public by automation, integration and incorporating Business Process Re-Engineering (BPR) where ever required.
In a nutshell E-district is a tailor made program for minimizing effort and time to provide prompt and effective services to the public. A total of 47 services pertaining to various departments are covered under e-District project.
3. LOKMITRA KENDRA - (CSC) SCHEME IN HIMACHAL PRADESH
The Common Service Centre (CSC) scheme popularly known as Lokmitra Kendra project in Himachal Pradesh aims to establish 3366 e-Governance centres at Panchayat level in the state. The scheme, as approved by the Government of India, envisions CSCs as the front-end delivery points for Government, private and social sector services to rural citizens of India, in an integrated manner.
The centres are being established under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode thus leveraging the support of various stakeholders such as State Governments, local bodies, opinion makers and agencies/ institutions involved or having interest, commercial or otherwise, in rural areas/ markets.
National E-Governance Award winners (2016-17)
• Excellence in Government Process Re-engineering Category: Loan Charge Creation Module of Andhra Pradesh
• Outstanding performance in citizen centric service delivery category: Aadhaar enabled Public Distribution System of Andhra Pradesh
• Innovative use of technology in e-Governance category: State Pension Portal Online Social Security Schemes Management system of Madhya Pradesh
• Incremental Innovations in existing projects category: NREGASoft of GOI
• Best District level initiative in citizen-centric service delivery through ICT category: SUGAM COLLECTORAT E of Gujarat
• Innovative use of GIS Technology in e-Governance category: G Triangulation of Haryana
• Innovative use of Mobile Technology in e-Governance category: Hawk Eye Mobile App Hyderabad City Police of Telangana