Page 1

Volume I issue 2, Mar-Apr 2005

Developing Interoperable information systems PAGE 10 In focus: Delhi government PAGE 18 Making India globally competitive PAGE 21 Women friendly e-Governance PAGE 25

The bimonthly magazine on e-Governance

Citizens first ISSN 0973-161X

www.egov.csdms.org


CONTENTS

Editorial

5

Agenda Need fruits of e-Governance? by M. P. Gupta and Ganesh P Sahu

6

Notebook Developing Interoperable information systems by Shefali S Dash, Dibakar Ray, Surinder Kumar

10

Where self-help helps...... by Sanjay Jaju

14

In focus: Delhi government by Vikas Kanungo

18

Commentary Making India globally competitive by Dr. Shankara Prasad

21

Women friendly e-Governance: Present reality in Nepal by Shikha Shrestha

25

e-Governance and more by Joe Thomas K

29

Features

| March – April 2005

Book review by Vikas Kanungo

32

News review

34

Interview: Priyantha Kariyapperuma

36

Facts and data

41

About town

42

3


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EDITORIAL

Volume I, issue 2 March – April 2005

Editor Ravi Gupta Policy Expert Vikas Kanungo Assistant Editor Joe Thomas K Designed by Deepak Kumar Bishwajeet Kumar Singh

Towards an inclusive society Indian governments both at the central and state levels, in the federal set up, have been moving rapidly towards ushering in a more transparent and efficient service backbone of governance through the establishment of several departmental online services. Though the various departments and ministries are at different stages in the evolution of providing electronic governance, it is a very encouraging move forward. Delhi Government has taken the lead in creating a host of online information and services, which we have featured. The need for one-window access at the user or citizen end is absolutely critical, as also the need to develop architectures of these services, which are inter-operable.

Web www.jtwebsolution.com Editorial and marketing correspondence egov G-4 Sector 39 NOIDA 201301, India Phone: +91 120 2502181-87 Fax: +91 120 2500060 Email: egov@csdms.org In Singapore 25 International Business Park #4-103F, German Centre Singapore 609916

This is possible when standards are followed and metadata indexing becomes the key to reduce workloads in digitizing data that are already uploaded by several departments. With emphasis on need of building an e-literate citizenry, the services of the e-Governance projects of various governments must be designed to create an inclusive society addressing the key functions of servicing in multitudes of languages that are characteristic of a diverse country like India, and to ensure that issues of access also get addressed. The importance of security and trust as a precondition to the successful introduction of online services needs no reiteration. This is essential in order to ensure the confidence in e-Governance applications and services while respecting privacy. These and other critical issues will be discussed in the upcoming issues. We look forward to your feedback, and contributions to make egov your own forum to build a knowledge resource platform.

Printed by Yashi Media Works Pvt Ltd New Delhi, India egov does not neccesarily subscribe to the views expressed in this publication. All views expressed in the magazine are those of the contributors. egov is not responsible or accountable for any loss incurred, directly or indirectly as a result of the information provided.

Ravi Gupta ravi.gupta@csdms.org

egov is published with the support of GIS Development (www.GISdevelopment.net) © Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies, 2005 www.csdms.org

| March – April 2005

5


AGENDA

Need fruits of e-Governance? The traditional form of government performed well in the past. However, in the modern world there is a need for better systems on part of the government to handle issues swiftly. The availability of technology has made it possible for the government to take steps in the direction of being electronically enabled The business of government covers a diverse range of activities that are complicated in nature. There is security of the nation, development of infrastructure, generating opportunities for employment, among others. All these efforts are aimed at improving the life of the citizens of the country. Besides governing the nation, the government sets the political agenda and defines the direction in which it wants the society to move, though, to some extent, these options for change are circumscribed by global developments. Government offices, whose duties include drafting and preparing business for the Government and assisting the ministers in the course of their work, serve the government. They constitute an integral authority comprising the Prime Minister’s Office, the ministries and other administrative offices. Public officials assist the Government in a number of ways. They conduct inquiries into a wide range of matters, supervise the operations of central authorities and supply background material for use as a basis for decisions. These offices are supposed to be mainly staffed by politically impartial officials who retain their posts regardless of the political orientation of the government in power. This, however, is largely not true in today’s political environment. Without digressing from the topic at hand, it is important to place today’s developments in the context of sociological and political developments over time. Political writers have invented various theories as to the origin of government. Historically, all governments have, in some sense, been developed from the patriarchal system as society developed from the family. Similarly, the Republic is opposed not to monarchy in the modern European sense, but to monarchy in the 6

ancient or absolute sense. Republic, respublica, by the very force of the term, means public wealth, or, the commonwealth; i.e. government founded not on personal or private wealth, but on public wealth, public territory, or domain, or a Government that vests authority in the nation, and attaches the nation to a certain definite territory. France, Spain, Italy, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, even Great Britain in substance though not in form, are all, in the strictest sense of the word, Republic states; for the king or emperor does not govern in his own private right, but solely as representative of the power and majesty of the state. Then, there might be different social beliefs regarding the origin of man, but one that is clear is that there were no cities or governments earlier, not too far back in history. People lived as individuals, with family, or within small communities. Some people were able to recognise the benefits of cooperation. Those communities that acted as a group to defend themselves (or attack others) probably survived longer than those who could not band together. In defensive terms, families and individuals have always had concerns about protecting their property (food and dwellings) and life. Conversely, the community also offered the possibility of

wielding great force to attack neighbouring individuals or weaker communities. The key factor in all of this was the development of organised force. With the development of organised force came the necessity of directing the use of that force. Then, as now, the control of the use of force fell either to a powerful individual or to a council. The term applied to both cases is ‘government’.

Change is inevitable The traditional form of government performed well in the past. However, in the modern world there is a need for better systems on part of the government to handle issues swiftly. The availability of technology has made it possible for the government to take steps in the direction of being electronically enabled. It is also important for the government to keep pace with the private sector in various domains in this information age. The issue of lower costs is extremely important to governments, and e-Government is the panacea that can help reduce costs. The need for change is urgent and the government needs to take steps to move in this direction. Some of the points that would be addressed by an e-Government are: www.egov.csdms.org |


• • •

Citizens would get online access to government information. This is otherwise, very difficult as citizens may have to go to government offices, stand in the queue for hours to get some information. There would be more transparency in the government systems. There could be a check on corruption. Citizens would find it easier to access the government departments for services and lodge their complaints with them. The Government will be able to respond faster and efficiently.

e-Enabling government business functions and providing electronic services. Governments across the Asia-Pacific region are launching ambitious e-Government initiatives, using electronic technologies to improve both internal operations and public service delivery. The combined spending on IT across the Asia Pacific (APAC) governments in 2002 was USD 15.2 billion, estimated to touch USD 20.2 billion by this year-end. e-Government spending will grow the fastest in China at a compounded annual growth rate of nearly 40 percent. Meanwhile, e-Government spending in Singapore and Korea will experience a ro-

Economic impact Vast improvements in computing, networking and telecommunications have led to a surge in technology investments at the federal, state and local levels that will continue to grow. e-Government is expected to have an immense presence in the years ahead. The first signs of its impact are already becoming apparent. USA Today has projected an annual compound growth rate of 6.9 percent during the next five fiscal years, from slightly more than USD 4 billion in fiscal 2004 to nearly USD 6 billion by fiscal 20091 . By 2006, all sectors of government will collect about 15 percent of fees and taxes online, which will amount to USD 602 billion, according to Forrester Research2 . In addition to improving government functioning, e-Government also helps to grasp the economic changes already under way. In 1999, online transactions were worth USD 145 billion, which was estimated to have reached USD 7.3 trillion by 20043 . The biggest reason for this has been the lower cost of transaction on the Internet. When an airline ticket is purchased online, the transaction costs 87 percent less than by traditional means. An online banking transaction is 89 percent less expensive; bill payments 70 percent; an insurance policy 50 percent, and similarly for other services. The issue of lower costs is extremely important to local governments, and e-Government can help reduce costs. As per the 2002 IDC study, over the coming years governments around the world are expected to increase their spending on e-Government initiatives as they devote more resources to | March – April 2005

USA Today has projected an annual compound growth rate of 6.9 percent during the next five fiscal years, from slightly more than USD 4 billion in fiscal 2004 to nearly USD 6 billion by fiscal 20091 . bust growth at over 20 percent over the forecast period, and in Australia it will grow steadily at 15 percent. This creates major opportunities for Information Technology (IT) vendors and service providers as the public sector seeks advice, products, services, and partnerships in implementing e-Government projects. Currently, most governments are at the stage where they have a narrow focus on providing electronic services and achieving agency-by-agency operational efficiency – without fully considering the benefits they can achieve by approaching it as an e-Business transformation. The sophistication of their services and systems will grow and new opportunities will emerge as they progress along the e-Government maturity curve. The Indian Government, realising the importance of IT, has created a separate Ministry of Information Technology to promote IT in the country. The Government has also approved the policy of

allocation of two to three percent of the national budget for IT. e-Governance spending in India is climbing 23 percent per annum. It went up from INR 150 billion in 2002, to an estimated INR 220 billion in 2003-04. According to the 2003 Gartner study, Government of India is the most recession-proof vertical that could keep the momentum in IT spending across countries in the Asia Pacific region. As per estimates, the Indian government has emerged as the fourth largest vertical spender on IT in the country following the verticals of telecom, manufacturing, banking and finance. In 2003 the Indian government’s IT spending was 14 percent of the total domestic ICT spend 4 . IT spending generally includes hardware, software, telecom equipment, telecom services and IT services. According to the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) study, a major fallout of these e-service oriented government endeavours has been a decline in corruption. e-Governance initiatives have also scored high in terms of user expectation as well as affordability. Take the instance of ‘Aarohi’, the computer-aided education programme initiated by the Government of Uttaranchal. A random survey of the on-going electronic delivery of government services to citizens and businesses found that the project has resulted in a sharp hike in government school results. The Gujarat interstate check posts is another case whose entire operations were revamped and e-Enabled on a network, linking various remote interstate border check posts. This has resulted in reducing corruption and significantly increased the state’s tax revenue5 . Another ‘feather’ is the initiation of the IT Bill that gives legal recognition to electronic documents and would facilitate transactional services on the Internet. Some cases of India’s e-Governance initiatives at the district administration or police administration level bear testimony as to how IT is being conceived as an important agenda of Public Administration in India (The Government of India (GoI) had declared 2001 as the ‘Year of e-Governance’). However, according to Gartner, meaningful e-Governance in India is unlikely before 2010, as only ten percent of government bodies round the 7


globe would be able to move towards e-Governance by 2005, and India is absent from that picture due to poor infrastructure and slow response to cyber-culture. According to Gartner, the transition from governance to e-Governance takes place in four phases: • ‘Presence’ • ‘Interaction’ • ‘Transaction’ • ‘Transformation’ India is still in the early phases of its transition. Flexible demographics and geographic competition within the country could eventually propel e-Governance to prominence in India though the constraints are significant enough to stymie any immediate advances. However, the brighter side is reflected in increased spending, which is an ample testimony to the vital importance of e-Governance in India’s plans. According to NASSCOM president Kiran Karnik, “e-Governance must be a high priority for India, as it is the only means of taking IT to the masses. Additionally, this is a smart and economical process of building the Indian domestic software market”. While there are many emerging programmes and initiatives on e-Government throughout the world at all levels of government, these initiatives present a number of challenges in terms of policy, infrastructure, security etc. The objective of achieving e-Governance goes far beyond mere computerisation of standalone back office operations. e-Governance has to fundamentally change how a government operates and this implies a new set of responsibilities for the executive, legislature, and the citizenry. The government is aware of this fact as is obvious from the statement of former Communication, IT and Disinvestment Minister, Arun Shourie, “The government’s IT managers should develop a minimum agenda for eGovernance. The days of ‘file culture’ have come to an end and cumbersome procedures should soon be replaced by online decisions”. Governments would require enormous changes in its processes, structures, skill, and work culture. It might require implementation over another decade as infrastructures must be built, policy issues resolved, and interoperability established. While there is a growing body of 8

knowledge dealing with the management of corporate change, there are still significant gaps in understanding the process. There is hardly any effort to understand the change in government domain accruing from its e-Enablement initiatives. Bringing about successful change in the government system requires change in the mindsets of people (within and outside the government systems). Managing change refers to getting the users to accept a new organisational process and the technology that enables it. New applications or processes that fundamentally change the way people work (and their relationships with others) may require some formal change management programme, and change management then is about helping people deal with their emotions. It is important to manage the human element for the success of any new system or process. The success of e-Governance is closely tied to the reform processes in the current system of government. Reforms must be an all-embracing phenomenon, touching every aspect of the government. Then the e-Governance model chosen will impact the way reform processes are handled.

Driving reforms Governance is an essential component of any organisation whether formal or informal, ineffective or successful. It amounts to achieving effective coordination in a dynamic environment where authority, responsibility and accountability among people are distributed. From governance to e-Governance is a journey of drastic organisational transformation. Though technology driven, it brings changes of the type that cover wider aspects of organisation such as coping with new organisational structures and skills, new forms of leadership, and perhaps even a redefinition of purpose. As rightly explained by (Allen et.al. 2001)6 , “The rise of e-Governance refers to the new patterns of decision-making, power sharing and coordination - made possible, or even necessary by the advent of IT”. Unlike private sector, “government finds itself under the dual strain of becoming both a partner and de facto competitor with business in an online environment, while also needing to understand the complex and

profound implications of new technologies and their impacts on public interest issues. As a result, digital government (a term that has been occasionally deployed in place of e-Government by many people) refers to an IT-led reconfiguration of public sector governance, and how knowledge, power and purpose are redistributed in light of new technological realities”. Another expert refers to the move from governance to e-Governance as harnessing IT to redefine its social technologies in order to remain relevant in a more participative, more interactive and more informational era7 . Radical and effective reforms become a necessity to prepare the government to be able enough to adapt to the changes mentioned above. However, this is not an easy path, and there are several resistances such as administrative culture, size, scope and operational complexity, etc. Cultivating the required shifts in skills, values and vision may be faced with difficulties. Bringing a little change in traditional ways is often difficult in a democratic set up of government. “A continuing focus on hierarchy-based leadership, partially contradicts the recognition of the need for individuals with new combinations of competencies and abilities associated with delivering in a web-enabled management framework. Yet, the shift towards a new order of e-Governance (penetrating political, commercial and social spheres) accelerates, bringing at least the possibility of new governance capacities”8 . What it takes is a strong leadership with vision and commitment to spearhead a reform to e-Governance. Any government’s economic management team always struggles with the expenses and fiscal deficit tradeoff – the attempt being to increase savings and up development expenditure. However, the governing process itself often comes in the way of achieving much of what is generally intended/attempted. It is here that IT-led solutions in government provide ample opportunities to gear up the governing and delivery processes of services to citizens by making the transformation as well as execution comparatively smoother and cost effective. Further, IT-enabled government functions are mostly error free, and reduce reworking and loss due www.egov.csdms.org |


to mistakes. Of course, all of this is predicated on certain investments in IT infrastructure and skill upgradation that result in relocation of manpower also. Nevertheless, in long run, it proves to be an economically viable option. Another important aspect of today’s governance is to manage and monitor information flow within the country. The complexity and necessity of effective handling of information had always been there, but it has become more complicated now and governments across the world have realised the importance of doing so. Moreover, when businesses within a country are increasingly becoming dependent on IT, the government has to align its policies to accommodate the change and also adopt implementation of IT within itself for effective governance of the businesses. With changing time, citizens’ expectations for better government services keep rising. People no longer like long queues waiting for a service to be provided in a dingy government office. It looks foolish to see a clerk opening and closing big registers, entering time-consuming transaction details. e-Governance must ensure visits, if any, to a government office to be a nice experience. Good governance by the e-Governance model is a win-win situation i.e. satisfies the citizen and also increases productivity of the government and reduces losses due to mistakes and non-accountability. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is another major frame influencing government function greatly. It is pushing reforms for the opening up of economies to all the global players. This introduces new kinds of complexities. At a first level, it is the monitoring of inflow and outflow of money and goods in the country. Secondly, at the administration level, detailed information needs to be available all the time for the executives to control the effects of international transactions. Policy-making activity also needs to take care of feedback from affected citizens to reduce the number of iterations before finalising the best policy option in a given situation. Else the government is forced to reconsider the policy, make modifications and go through the same ordeal of long approval processes - resulting in a heavy drain on the exchequer. | March – April 2005

Moreover, the awareness level of general people has improved with the development in the economy and education. This has had a positive affect on election processes. Despite low voter turnouts (compared to many developed countries), people are more informed and interested in the voting process. They now want to be a part of decision-making, voice their opinion before the apex policy-making body, carry out constructive criticism of government decisions, and let others know of it! With such a trend in the mindsets of people, it is imperative on the government of the land to provide opportunities to citizens to voice their valuable opinions. e-Governance provides that opportunity. Moreover, in developing democratic economies, many a times governmental issues are prioritised by the political agenda of different political parties in power rather than on the real need of development. People often feel frustrated and cheated by political powers. The model of e-Government will, at the least, put pressure on political parties to prioritise an issue that is more important for the well being of its citizens than meeting the narrow political objective of the party because e-Governance will make all decision-making processes transparent with government information accessible to the public. Implementing e-Governance in any country is a task of massive transformation. However, what it requires in terms of resources is a whole lot of expertise, special skill sets, and commitment of people involved more than the money factor alone. Above all is the need for a leader with vision and passion who could drive the entire process though a dedicated team identified and deployed for each different module of work. If taken forward in the right spirit, e-Governance is one area where the political leadership has a real chance to bring about change in countries and the lives of people. Agreed that technology is now the enabling factor, however, more than anything else technology needs a framework to succeed, and that is the area of strategy management which deals with evolving a set of strategies to use technology to deliver results appropriate to the users and other stakeholders. Many a time we are faced with inconsistent objectives of different

stakeholders in the government. Attempts, therefore, have to be made to reconcile different and often conflicting interests of different agencies and partners to get effective results. If implemented in true spirit, e-Governance has the potential to change the whole facade of governmental organisation and citizen servicing. It opens up gateways of vast opportunities that include the seamless flow of information and coordination among government agencies, between government and business, and between government and citizens. Reference 1

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/techpolicy/

2005-01-06-egov-to-grow_x.htm?csp=15 2

http://www.westerncity.com/June01E-Gov.htm

3

Ibid

4

http://www.nasscom.org/newsline/issue37/

egovernance.asp 5

http://www1.worldbank.org/publicsector/egov/

gujaratcs.htm 6

B. A. Allen, L. Juillet, G. Paquet and J. Roy (2001); E-

Governance & Government On-line in Canada, Partnerships, People & Prospects, Government Information Quarterly 18 (2001) 93–104 7

Tapscott, D., & Agnew, D. (1999). Governance in the

digital economy. Finance and Development, December: 84–87. 8

Papows, J. (1998). Enterprise.com: Market leadership

in the information age. Reading, UK: Perseus Books.

M.P. Gupta* Department of Management Studies, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi Huaz Khas, New Delhi 110016 (India) Email: mpgupta@dms.iitd.ernet.in

Ganesh P Sahu Department of Management Studies, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi Huaz Khas, New Delhi 110016 (India) Email: sahu_ganesh@rediffmail.com

9


NOTEBOOK

Developing interoperable information system National e-Governance framework Generally e-Governance evolves through three stages. In the first stage, dissemination of information is the main goal. In the second stage, e-Governance users access department-specific services. The ‘enterprise’ approach (based on the concept of joined-up government) with citizens at its focus and having integrated services and back office servicing takes it to the third stage of evolution, which is transformation. As government services are diverse and independently offered by various departments and ministries, consolidation into a joined-up government is not a simple affair. A key enabler in this direction is the interoperability framework. There must be a mandatory compliance with the accepted standard, interface and architecture at all levels to be interoperable, so that data and information can be exchanged and processed seamlessly across government. The framework should cover policies and standards for achieving technical, semantic, and syntactical process interoperability.

Background Government possesses one of the largest repositories of information products and services. Public access to these services is uncoordinated, cumbersome, complicated, slow, paper-based and most often very confusing. This is further complicated when more than one of the agencies are involved1 . e-Governance or electronic governance may be defined as delivery of government services and information to the public using electronic means. Generally e-Governance has three evolutionary stages2 3 . In the first phase, dissemination of information is the prime objective of e-Governance. This phase begins with a mere ‘presence’ stage where individual departments host their websites conveying the Government’s initiative in providing information relating to the department’s functioning such as its official address, working hours, forms, rules and regulations to the public. This stage may slowly evolve into a web portal where the public gets a common integrated view to all information. In the second phase, these portals progress to ‘transaction’ phase where e-Governance users access departmentspecific services that support two-way interactions and transactions besides an integrated view of information. At this stage, all departments are computerised separately and the user has to go to different departments for availing the services offered by them. Since delivery of a majority of government services involves the collaborative effort of several related departments and various tiers of government, this department-centric approach has many shortcomings. It results in a situation, where the citizen is forced to provide the same information multiple times at multiple locations in multiple formats. Government agencies are also required to enter the same data repeatedly at different places. Duplication of data and efforts increases cost and complexity for the citizen availing these services. As pointed out in the document Vision of e-Government in State of Andhra Pradesh in India4: “From its experience in implementing a few e-Government 10

projects at the department/agency level, the GOAP realised that such individual projects implemented by the departments on a standalone basis would result in duplication of work, besides creating islands of excellence, which are not interoperable. Integration of these disparate systems at a later time would involve tedious plumbing. A standards-based approach was felt to be the need of the hour”. Moreover, incompatible data at different departments hinders government efforts to detect fraud. It is also found that the benefits of e-Governance initiatives within an isolated department are sub-optimal and finally results in no substantial speed or efficiency gain. It is here that the enterprise approach combined with the concepts of ‘life events’ is becoming a predominant policy consideration while designing government services. The enterprise approach emphasises a statewide perspective as opposed to a department/agency view. It tries to identify, fund, and implement inter-

Image Source: IST 2002 of European Commission

www.egov.csdms.org |


departmental, cross-tier e-Government initiatives. The ‘life events’ concept starts with the proposition that citizens’ life is not segregated into departments like Revenue, Public Works, Social Welfare, etc. and citizens want access to government services in terms of life events and without going through the functional fragmentation of the government. Various examples of life events are birth, admissions to schools for which they may require SC/ST certificates and may require government stipend, looking for a job which may require registration at the employment exchange, starting a business which will necessitate applying for trade licenses, loans from different government schemes, renewing licenses, purchase of vehicle, getting married, preparing for retirement which may require application to old age pension schemes, and finally death. As a result, developing e-Governance solutions should totally focus on citizens, where they could avail services without being concerned about the functional fragmentation of departments. This requires services designed around possible life events, and the integration of back-office processes. The third stage of evolution is ‘transformation’, where the objective is to achieve the true vision of e-Governance by: 1. A citizen-focused approach. A single point of contact would provide an integrated platform for government services that is totally transparent to citizens and businesses. 2. Integrated services and integrated back office. The focus on the ‘enterprise approach’ where government information is readily available to all, allowing a seamless interface to respective departments involved in the transactions. 3. Services built around life events. 4. Inter-department collaboration. Interoperable systems across government departments, allowing seamless flow of information thereby facilitating collaborative decisions among government agencies and the public. Most of the current e-Governance applications in India are generally at the second stage of evolution. In most cases back ends are automated independently at departments and the user has to go from department to department for availing different services. To help citizens there might be a concept of Single Window Facilitation Centres where a citizen could avail all kinds of services, but at | March – April 2005

In India there is an increasing feeling that a minimum set of ‘Policy and Standard’ should exist at the national level so that the projects, which are being developed in various States, could later become interoperable, reusable and scalable. the back end all departments run their services independently. The consolidation process is not a simple affair. A key enabler of the enterprise approach in e-Governance is the interoperability framework.

What is Interoperability and what is Interoperability Framework? “Interoperability is the ability of a system or a product to work with other systems or products without special effort on the part of the customer5” In the context of e-Governance interoperability can be defined as “The ability of government organisations to share information and to integrate information and business processes by agreeing to use common standards.6” This can be achieved by developing a common framework of policies, standards and guidelines that have to be followed by agencies developing actual solutions. The framework is the basis of all e-Government strategy. Interoperability Framework sets out the government’s guidelines, standards, policies and technical specifications describing the way in which government ministries/departments can link their business processes and deliver ‘joined-up’ services. In India there is an increasing feeling that a minimum set of ‘Policy and Standard’ should exist at the national level so that the projects, which are being developed in various States, could later become interoperable, reusable and scalable. Once the framework is in place, a single source of guidance, standard and best practices will be available to the developers at different levels, that will foster a rapid, coherent, inexpensive and trustworthy implementation of interoperable e-Governance systems. Development of such a framework has been in the focus of the policy makers for quite some time now. The report of the Working Group on convergence and e-Governance for the Tenth Five Year Plan (2002 – 2007), Government of India, Planning Commission, November – 2001, TFYP Working Group, SR. No 83/2001 7 says “e-Governance demands standards in all areas. Some of the key areas are: data encoding (ISCII or UNICODE), application logic for common horizontal applications, user interfaces, data dictionaries, etc. These standards will need to be put in place before e-Governance can effectively be implemented. ….Standardisation should be started without any delay otherwise confusion will ensue that would negate the advantages of use of IT”. Andhra Pradesh has already come out with an e-Governance interoperability framework. Some other states are also working in that direction. National Informatics Centre, Department of Information Technology (DIT), Government of India, has initiated the development of an Interoperability Framework for E-governance comprising of a set of policies, standards for development of interoperable e-governance applications8.

The International scenario Many countries have evolved or are in the process of evolving their national interoperability framework for public sectors. United Kingdom (http:// www.govtalk.gov.uk) is among the first in establishing an e-Government Interoperability Framework (e-GIF). The first version of UK’s e-GIF was issued in 2000 and it has been reviewed every 6 months since then. It has focused on four 11


main issues such as interconnectivity, data integration, access and content management. New Zealand (http://www.e-government. govt.nz/interoperability/ index.asp) published the first version of its e-GIF in July 2002. It emphasises on Business Process Interface, Service Delivery, Access, Information Sharing & Exchange, and Interconnection. Australia (http://www. agimo. gov.au/practice/ framework) issued a consultation draft of an interoperability framework in May 2002 by adopting objectives of integration of Government information and services, openness and transparency across Government, and strategic focus on business outcomes. In 2000, the US (http://www.cio.gov/) formed an XML Working Group to develop strategies for the effective use of XML, and in April 2002 the US General Accounting Office issued a report titled “Challenges to effective adoption of XML9” that recommended more central co-ordination to facilitate the effective adoption of XML in US government agencies. Pan European Countries identified three main aspects - technical, semantic and organisational interoperability. Germany (http://www.bund. de/Service/english-.6118.htm) initiated the Standard and Architecture for e-Government Applications (SAGA) and a complete approach on four development directions such as definition of technical normative references, standards and architectures, process modelling, data modelling, and development of basic components. South East Asian countries like Hong Kong (http://www. ogcio.gov.hk/eng/infra/eif.htm) and Malaysia have done remarkable work on the interoperability framework for their respective countries.

Issues involving Interoperability Interoperability broadly involves successful communication between two or more systems. Successful communication depends on mutually agreeable syntax, semantics and compatible communication mechanism. Syntactical component of interoperability is achieved by resorting to use of XML to define syntax of communication. Technical interoperability is concerned with the communication mechanism, and covers issues of linking up computer systems, including key areas such as open interfaces, middleware, accessibility and security services. It ensures that networks and information systems can physically communicate and transfer information successfully. Ubiquity of ‘Internet-type’ technologies based on universally agreed open standards and the relative decline of closed networks and proprietary software are helping to achieve technical interoperability. However, common syntax and communication mechanism is not enough to achieve interoperability. The exchanging parties have to agree upon the meaning of the data item for successful communication between themselves. Semantic interoperability is concerned with ensuring that the precise meaning of exchanged information is understandable across applications. Interoperability at this level may fail in case different users or groups of users use different terms for similar concepts, or use similar terms to mean different things. Interoperability at this level requires communicating parties to follow agreed upon standards for data and metadata. Developing policies, standards and specifications for semantic interoperability is a long term investment which requires the input of many people. Semantic interoperability consists of two sets of standards – one for data and other for metadata.

Data Standard Achieving data coherence across government means that government organisations need data schemas that have been agreed upon for use throughout the government. Since development of information systems has evolved in a largely decentralised manner, government databases may not be compatible, thus inhibiting data sharing and fostering duplication. The Government Data Standards Catalogue is a data dictionary to be operated across Government that holds information about data items widely used across Government. The Data standards may be expressed as a structured list of data items with descriptions, field lengths and formats, and UML models. The national data dictionary would be produced in 12

several stages, beginning with a section covering core data elements that run across all government departments (e.g., name, address, etc.), and a section dedicated to each functional area of government activities (such as rural development, agriculture, etc) that covers the data elements unique to that area. An agreed set of data standards is a key element in the development of interoperable applications. Adoption of data standards for use across government will enable easier, more efficient exchange and processing of data. It will also remove ambiguities and inconsistencies in the use of data.

Metadata Standard The most common definition of metadata is ‘data about data’. A more helpful definition is that it is structured information about a resource - a summary of the form and content of a resource. Metadata serves the same function as a label. Like other labels, metadata provides information about the object and enables a resource to be located. The resource could be a single webpage, an electronic document, a digitised image, a sound file, or an animation such as a movie, etc. Among other benefits, the use of metadata facilitates achieving interoperability. Metadata standards provide a way for information resources in electronic form to communicate their existence and their nature to other electronic applications (e.g. via HTML or XML) or search tools and to permit exchange of information between applications 10. Metadata standards will cover the core set of ‘elements’ that contain data needed for the effective labelling of the resource, so that retrieval and management of the resource across all of governments’ information systems become easier. Many countries in Europe and around the world for e.g. the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada have adopted the Dublin Core (http:/ /dublincore.org/) approach as part of their eGovernance framework, or are in the process of doing so, whereas the US government and a few other countries are following GILS (http:/ /www.gils.net/) approach. Over and above interoperability at syntax, semantics and technical level, interoperability frameworks cover process interoperability as well. Process interoperability is concerned about identification and usage of common processes and business patterns across information systems. www.egov.csdms.org |


Proposed Framework for Interoperability The approach towards interoperability should be based on the following premises: 1. Browser based interface for access 2. XML as the primary means for data integration 3. Acceptance of Internet and World Wide Web standards 4. Metadata Standards for content management The interoperability framework should be based around a hierarchy of standards ensuring that international standards are used whereever possible, national standards could be used to cover items specific to the country, and new standards are developed where none exists. A minimum set of standards that are relevant for system interconnectivity and information exchange should be selected. These standards should be open in the sense that they are publicly available and well documented. Moreover, standards having wide market support should be chosen to reduce cost and risk. Some of the crucial areas of technical interoperability where policies and standards would be required are – Networking, Interconnection, e-mail, Directory Service, Domain Name Service, File Transfer Protocol, Security etc. There are a number of well-established international standards in these areas. A common approach to attain interoperability is aligning the government information system with the Internet and adopting the standards available for the Internet. Choice of standard browser with required plug-ins for accessing government information systems as a part of the technical framework also makes life easier. But we need to remember that choice of browser for accessing information may restrict choice of technology for developing information systems. For example although Xforms is an evolving standard for electronic forms, only a few browsers support Xforms. Some of the policies related to technical interoperability are: • Networking would be IPv4 based, and IPv6 in due course • e-mail clients have to conform to SMTP/ MIME for message transport and POP3 for mailbox retrieval. • LDAP V3 is to be used for general-purpose directory access • DNS is to be used for Internet/intranet domain name to IP address resolution • Application has to be Web based | March – April 2005

whenever possible. Web based services are to be based on SOAP, UDDI and WSDL FTP should be used where file transfer is necessary within government intranets. Restart and recovery facilities of FTP are to be used when transferring very large files

Conclusion Many of the current e-Governance applications in India are in the second stage of evolution. To reach the ‘transformation’ stage, interoperability has to be achieved at both the technical and semantic level. The required framework for interoperability can be achieved through alignment and adoption of common standards with the Internet, and WWW for all government information systems; adoption of XML as the primary standard for data integration and presentation, and Browser as the key interface. The Framework needs to be developed by forming various working groups that could support with implementing the existing international and national standards. Successful implementation would require making available best practice guidance, toolkits, schema development guidelines and centrally agreed data schemas. Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or policy of the employer. References 1

Sudan Randeep Flattening bureaucracy, the first estep of AP http://www.ciol.com/content/services/ egov/showpeople.asp?AID=32&CI=4&SI=5 as on 16th Feb 2004 2 Sawhney Mohan(2001). E-Governance - Towards the Next Generation. http:// www.mohansawhney.com/Registered/ASP/ItemDetail. asp?tab=wri&CID=607 [as on 12 th August 2004] 3 Al-Tawil Khalid M, Sai Sadiq M(2002) E-Governance – Where We Stand? http://www.worldbank.org/mdf/ mdf4/papers/altawil-sait.pdf [as on 12 th August 2004] 4 Government of Andhra Pradesh, Department of Information Technology & Communications. Framework for e-Government. http://www.ap-it.com/ egovernment.html#framework. [as on 12 th August 2004]. 5 SearchWebServices. http://searchwebservices. techtarget.com/sDefinition/0,sid26_ gci212372,00.html [as on 12 th August 2004] 6 Interoperability and how will it be achieved? http:// www.e-government.govt.nz/docs/e-gif-v-0-9/ chapter2.html 7 Report of the Working Group on convergence and e-Governance for the Tenth Five Year Plan (2002 – 2007), 2001TFYP Working Group, SR. No 83/2001, Planning Commission, Government of India, November–2001, (http://planningcommission.nic.in/ aboutus/ committee/wrkgrp/wg_egovrn.pdf as on 12 th Feb 2004) 8 Suchitra Pyarelal Interoperability Framework for EGovernance (IFEG): Strategic Approach to Evolve National Standards. Informatics 13(2) Oct 2004 9 United States General Accounting Office(2002). ELECTRONIC GOVERNMENT Challenges to Effective Adoption of the Extensible Markup Language,GAO. www.gao.gov/new.items/d02327.pdf . [as on 12 th August 2004] 10 Treasury Board of Canada,Secretariat(2001). Why Metadata? What are the benefits? http://www.ciodpi.gc.ca/im-gi/references/meta-standard/metastandard01_e.asp . [as on 12th August 2004]

Shefali S Dash is currently working as Senior Technical Director at National Informatics Centre. She may be contacted at dash@nic.in

Dibakar Ray is currently involved in software development for the CIC projects [Scientist-D]. He may be contacted at dibakar@hub.nic.in

Surinder Kumar is working at NIC from the last 15 years [Technical Director]. He may be contacted at suri@nic.in

13


NOTEBOOK

Where self-help helps... The project e-Seva (e-services) began in the district West Godavari that falls in the province of Andhra Pradesh in India. The project is a tool to bridge the digital divide in the rural areas, and has used Information Technology for providing access to various C2C (citizen-to-citizen) and C2G (citizen-to-government) services to the people living in these areas. Under this project web-enabled rural kiosks have been established in the villages, and the unique thing about these centres is that they are run and managed by women self-help groups. This has allowed these centres to position rural women as information leaders to help bridge the gender divide and help them act as change agents – enabling growth in strength and stature with the project. These centres run on a district portal (http://www.westgodavari.org) that allows access to various citizen-centric services. Under this project information kiosks have been established in the villages. The computers in the kiosks are on a district wide network (a hybrid of dial up, 802.11 and WLL) helping kiosks interact with the district server hosting the local portal. To save on the networking cost, the project has developed a unique synchronisation tool that permits the kiosks to work offline and allows the databases to be periodically synchronised in minimal time. The project uses the opportunities that ICTs offer in empowering the citizens, and facilitates e-enabled education inputs to children to build their creative insights. The services range from the issuance of various certificates, getting information about various programmes, to networking citizens with each other allowing them the flexibility and convenience of mutually beneficial transactions. The horizontal portal is eventually put on the global World Wide Web and thus allows vertical integration with the expanding frontiers of the universal knowledge bank. The project allows access to hitherto marginalised communities and therefore helps bridge the existing information gaps as a digital unite. The project has been developed using local knowledge and local content by local professionals. The development of the portal, operationalisation of the applications, and tools have been designed for local situations and network speeds. All the kiosks have in turn been handed over to women and youth self-help groups to be run on business lines. These individuals have been trained, and have shown remarkable improvement in their possessed skills. The content on the citizen petitions is also available in local language. Although roman alphabets are currently in use, steps are on to switch over to the local language fonts.

Services offered 1. Online filing of complaints and grievances Governments enter into the daily lives of the citizens in many ways. There is a fair degree of discontent amongst the citizens about the delivery of these services. The project allows citizens to file their grievances in the e-Seva centres. Every grievance is acknowledged and transferred online to bring in field level action. Concerned departments can easily monitor registered grievances by logging with the user id and password specifically assigned to them. The real time summary statistics and performance summary statements of the individual departments can be seen and verified. The citizens can verify and track the status of its disposal online. The project works on the principle that the citizen himself need not go to the authorities if someone could carry his grievance for him, and in this case if a telephone wire can do that, where is the need to act otherwise? The citizens need not wait if there is a drinking water problem or a non-functioning Fair Price Shop or a government functionary not doing his duty. All this is only one click away now. 14

Over 12000 different grievances relating to various departments have been received from the citizens. Over 11000 of them pertaining to various problems have been redressed.

2. Online application registration There are a host of areas where the citizens approach various tiers and areas of government for getting benefit out of various government programmes. These areas range from getting a loan under a self-employment scheme, applying for an old age pension, to asking for subsidised agricultural inputs, among others. Instead of moving from office to office and getting harsh responses, the citizens just need to come to the kiosk and apply online. They get their acknowledgement number and the rest is taken care of. The module provides for online forwarding, transmission, handling and disposal of such requests, and would therefore minimise the disposal time and the concomitant citizen effort to get their cases redressed. The interconnectivity and linkage with the citizen database also helps in weeding out bogus and repeat cases. The old age pensions being given in this project were computerised and put on the project website along with photographs and citizen identification numbers helping the administration weed out over 7000 bogus names, and saving over INR 7 million annually for the state.

3. Issuance of certificates There are many kinds of certificates that the citizens need from governments; an important one among them is the integrated caste, nativity and income certificate. Now the citizen need not physically go to the Mandal Revenue Office. Instead she/he can apply directly at the Kendram, from where the request is transmitted online; the certificates are prepared and made available to the applicant at the kiosk itself without any inconvenience and without the drudgery of sifting through offices. The philosophy be-

The project has had a tremendous impact in furthering the gender and digital unite. www.egov.csdms.org |


hind this intervention is that citizens always loathe approaching a government department for the fear of getting discourteous treatment and being subjugated to corrupt practices. The project therefore improves upon this interface and expects them to come to a centre run by their own peers - a place much more accountable, open, transparent and subject to public scrutiny. Over 350000 certificates have so far been issued to the citizens that tantamount to a saving of over INR 30 million to the citizens, an indirect cost that the hapless citizen incurs due to rampant corruption in issuance of such certificates.

4. Issuance of land records The plan document of the Seventh Five Year Plan rightly opined, “Land records form the base for all land reforms and therefore regular periodic updating of land records is essential in all states�. The information relating to land plays a very important role and the project has cast this data onto the public domain to support development of a citizen centric land records system. The result is evolution of a transparent and effective land record delivery system that fully addresses the insecurities and concerns of the farmers.

5. Online auctions and biddings One fundamental reason for the rural-urban divide is the lack of well-developed markets in the rural areas hindering efficient sale and purchase of goods. As a result most of the decisions made by farmers and the rural poor are based on insufficient information and are therefore sub-optimal, and in majority of the cases go against them. The project has been trying to fill in these information gaps by allowing the citizens the facility to post their products for online auctions at any of the kendrams. This has also opened the possibility for the Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas (DWACRA) and other types of self-help groups to market their products directly to citizens (horizontally within the district and vertically outside) without any middlemen. There is also a facility for citizens outside to send in a gift to their near and dear ones. The project has tied up with a payment gateway and some vendors; the rest is taken care of by the network of kiosks.

6. Online Mandi (market) rates Ideally an average household makes a decision before buying or selling the goods and products based on the information they col| March – April 2005

lect locally. Every kendram uploads the market rates prevailing in their area, which are then available to everybody else. The rates in markets elsewhere in the state are also available for the citizens to watch the trends and make the right decision after weighing all options.

7. Payment of dues The citizens require a friendlier environment to pay their dues - be it the payment of electricity bills or telephone bills or land revenue. The Kendras offer the facility to the citizens that while transacting other services, they can clear off their pending accounts as well. The individual departments have the benefit of expeditious collections; savings on collection costs, and at the same time the ability to monitor their collection performance. In future, payments for services such as cellular connections and other private services can also be dovetailed. The women self-help groups under the project, through these e-Seva centres, have thus far collected over 1.4 million bills amounting to INR 400 million without any hitch.

8. Easy access to information The right to information has now been recognised by the Parliament; the Kendras (through the District Portal) allow access to all kinds of valuable information to the citizens not just with respect to government programmes, but also to databases such as Old Age Pensions, Ration Cards, Multi-purpose Household Survey Records, Beneficiaries under various self-employment schemes, Child Database, Civil works etc. This induces transparency in the implementation of these programmes and facilitates weeding out ineligible cases so that corresponding benefits can be passed down to the needy.

9. Matrimonial services An online marriage bureau has been operationalised so that prospective brides/ grooms can place their bio-data eliciting suitable offers. Over 13000 prospective wed seekers have so far utilised the facility.

10. Tele medicine The provision of basic and primary health care is the principal duty of the welfare state. There are however many situations when expert advice is needed, and instead of the patient travelling all over, the request can travel on wire and the right prescription can travel back. Daily videoconference with specialists is proving to be of great help. 15


11. Tele agriculture The district being predominantly agriculture-based generates lot of questions related to farm practices which many times go unanswered resulting in incorrect input applications. The portal acts as a round-the-clock helpline for handling such queries.

12. Forms download There are various forms that every department has for use by the citizens. The Kendram acts as a one-stop-shop for downloading all such forms. Any changes in them would also get reflected in real time.

13. Citizen forum The Kendram through the portal expects to provide a virtual meeting place for the citizens to discuss issues relating to the district/village, its problems, and prospective solutions. Now the citizens can freely interact with each other to post their ideas, and this acts as an online forum for them to ventilate grievances, air opinions, and bring about necessary social change. It also provides the opportunity to conduct opinion polls on important topical issues leading to improved decision-making.

14. e-Education Digitised inputs on computer-enabled education are being made available in these centres so as to enrich the analytical and thinking abilities of the rural students - opening the advanced frontiers of knowledge to them. The project has tied up with an NGO for the supply of computer-enabled CDs and the centre incharges have been imparted training about their use. Over 70 000 elementary school students are currently taking classes thrice a month at the e-Seva centres nearest to them. This also underscores the point that the advantages of Information Technology cannot be limited to a few sections of society and everybody has an equal right to access the same.

15. Common Accounts Keeper for self-help groups The kendram being run by women self-help groups provides a virtual meeting place and a focal point for synergising and pooling individual efforts. Instead of individual groups maintaining their own accounts, the project computer maintains internal lending records, and also enters into online transactions with their banks. Some of the banks also propose to put the ATM counters in some kendrams which would further service the groups. The project has had a tremendous impact in furthering the gender and digital unite. It has been able to buttress women self-help groups and provide services to the citizens in

The e-Seva project milestones June ‘2002: Nov ‘2002: Jan ‘2003:

June ‘2003: Sept ‘2003: Nov ‘2003: July ‘2004: Oct ‘2004: Nov ‘2004: Dec’2004: Jan ‘2005:

Feb ‘2005:

16

A pilot ICT initiative to strengthen self-help groups started in one block of this district. A comprehensive programme to deliver civic services at rural points in convergence with self-employment schemes envisaged and conceptualised. The project e-Seva in West Godavari district to provide access to various C2C (citizen-to-citizen) and C2G (citizen-to-government) services to the people living in rural areas through web-enabled rural kiosks started in 46 places. The project evolved and institutionalised - recording over 300 000 transactions by this time. Partnership with Azim Premji Foundation forged to initiate a model whereby children from elementary government schools could come daily and learn at the centres through multimedia CDs. 120 more centres added to the project fold; e-enabled education reaches over 28000 students, transactions cross 600 000. Centres connected through WLL; number of students taking e-enabled education increases to 70000; Centres get a bigger look, and their own buildings Number of transactions crosses 1.5 million; over 350 million rupees collected against electricity bills. e-Commerce activities for tribal tourism and lace park activities launched Telemedicine from specialists to the primary health centres started Transactions cross 2 million; Project conferred the National Award for exemplary implementation of e-Governance Initiative for the year 2004 (‘Gold Icon’) under the Innovative Operations and Best Practices – Professional Category, by the Government of India. A strategy titled ‘Closing School’ for intensively training graduate unemployed youth in computers, English, communication and other managerial skills for corporate placement launched. www.egov.csdms.org |


a hassle free manner. With over 200 kiosks in the district the project has completed more than 2 million transactions thus far. An amount of over INR 4900 million has been collected in electricity bills without any hitch. All these centres are doing good business and are becoming self-sustainable earning between INR 10 000 and INR 25 000 every month. Many of the centres are also adopting innovative methods of revenue generation. 14000 different grievances from citizens have been received out of which over 13 000 have been redressed. The project has led to a citizen centric land records system resulting in evolution of a transparent and effective land record delivery system fully addressing the insecurities of the farmers. The project has also opened the possibility for self-help groups to market their products directly to citizens (horizontally within the district and vertically outside) without middlemen. The project portal has data pertaining to over 4 million citizens in varied form, and the website has also become a major dissemination and broadcasting tool for various welfare programmes. The project has helped in the creation of a ‘knowledge and information’ economy thereby bringing in more opportunities and prosperity to the impoverished areas of the district. It has also induced transparency in the implementation of government programmes, and has facilitated weeding out of ineligible cases so that corresponding benefits could be passed down to the needy. As the project rural e-Seva of West Godavari District crosses one milestone after another, this is the time to do some stocktaking. Now 26 months old the project is roughly into the time when the initial euphoria gives way to part complacency and part cynicism, and then starts a period of decline in its life cycle unless it is reversed by a proactive approach. Before delving further, it would be

Achievements • Won the Gender ICT Award at the GKP Awards night at the World Summit on Information Society at Geneva in December 2003. • Captured the Tony Zeitoun Award in the ICT stories competition in the year 2003. • Nominated for the 2004 Stockholm Challenge Award in the e-Democracy category. • Won the first prize in the National Awards of the Computer Society of India in the year 2003. • Nominated in the World Summit Awards in year 2003, the only project in its category from India. • Bagged the Golden Icon Award of the Government of India for its innovative operations recently. apt if we have a look at the following findings that can be easily discerned form this project. • By combining the resources and energies locked in the urge of groups and individuals to pursue self-employment, a viable low cost alternative to bring in the benefits of information and communications technology can be created and sustained. • Such projects can bring in transparency in the functioning of the administration to a plausible extent and provides an independent domain and space to the citizens to interact with government. • Such a solution cannot be restricted to only e-Government but to a wide range of services that can bring additional returns to the operator and opportunities to the citizens to become part of the tech savvy globe. Such a transformation requires strong will at the highest level to make such projects sail through the rough weather of vested interests, pressure groups, and entrenched lobbies. The Project recognises that no matter what the rhetoric is, Sanjay Jaju real right to information is possible only The author is an IAS officer of AP if the information is put onto the public cadre and is presently working as domain, and new technologies provide Collector & District Magistrate, the most cost effective solutions for West Godavari. doing that.

GIS Institute Ad | March – April 2005

17


NOTEBOOK

In focus: Delhi government Introduction In recent years the role of the state in reaching out to its citizens has been largely evaluated on the basis of the degree of comfort the citizens have in accessing government services. Gone are the days when disclosure of information and public accountability were part of academic discussion. Today governments are increasingly taking the lead in furnishing information and providing services to its citizens. Information and communication technologies have further eased the problem of reach by acting as cost effective Prakash Kumar, IT Secretary, Delhi viamedia. In this regard, Delhi governGovernment, elaborates about ment is one of the few state governments that seem to have realised the power of e-Government initiatives in Delhi information technology in improving the quality of life of their citizens. In the past few years, Delhi government has executed creditable work in integrating/ automating services from various government departments, and making government forms and documents available online (with an online grievance redressal mechanism coming soon). Ranked among the top ten e-Government portals on the national level, Delhi is fast moving towards a leadership position in implementing e-Government and providing services through its citizen-centric single window web portal www.delhigovt.nic.in. Through the initiative the government is working towards supplying information and citizen services with a vision that states: “If a person cannot find the information relating to any government department or services online, it can be presumed that it is not available anywhere else.” Though the statement may seem ambitious in the light of the prevalent culture in government organisations, the vision of the government and the efforts thus far are worthy of recognition. Following are the excerpts from an exclusive interview with Prakash Kumar, Secretary IT, Delhi government, who has been working relentlessly and innovatively in putting together and coordinating the efforts of various government departments in implementing electronic public services for the citizens of Delhi. Q: From paper governance to electronic governance - what sort of change does that bring about? What was the idea behind the portal? A: Clearly, Information that was kept in files and hard to find booklets is now easily available through the website. In addition, most of the services are being delivered online making the life of the citizens in the National Capital Territory and country’s capital much more comfortable. Unlike many other states, Delhi has multiple service providers. For example, health services are provided by the hospitals run by the Union government, State government, MCD, cantonment board, private organisations, and NGOs. The multiplicity of the authority makes it more difficult for the citizens as consumer of services to find exact information regarding the accountability and availability of services. Similar is the scenario with issue of certificates, licenses and many other citizens’ needs. The government portal was designed with the twin objective of providing information and services from 79 odd government department websites in a citizen centric manner. 18

Q: What has been the involvement of/ feedback from employees, and other stakeholders? A: The electronic governance initiative triggered a chain of feedback from all the department officers, civil society organisations and various stakeholders. Keeping in view their feedback, the opinion of e-Governance experts, experience of other states / countries, the project to redesign the citizen services portal was started in April 2003. No doubt, all our efforts have been possible due to persistent efforts, political support and involvement of all the stakeholders especially government employees. Q: At this stage what exactly is on offer for the citizens? A: Firstly, information has been organised on Delhi government’s portal under the following broad categories: • Application forms, certificates and licenses • Online submission of 11 forms • Environment, health and education information • Property tax information, birth certificates, emergency services, etc. • Vehicle registration, driving licenses, metro and railway info. • Registration of all kinds such as marriage registration, sales tax registration, nursing home registration, etc. • Ration cards, election, voting, passports • Police, traffic departments • Tourist related information • Welfare schemes • Daily rates of fruits, vegetable, grains • Delhi subordinate services selection board • Tender notices The information on the website is available in English, and very soon it will also be available in Hindi. In case you are not able to find the service you are looking for from the home page, you may use the site map where the services are listed by categories. Moreover, almost all the departments of Delhi government have their independent websites, and many of them (74) also have clearly drafted citizen charters. Delhi is one of the few states that have enacted the Right to Information Act. www.egov.csdms.org |


Q: While the earlier discussion on information availability has value, what can the citizen look forward to with regard to services? A: In terms of online services available, the portal provides online form submission facilities for the following services. The final delivery though is still a mix of online and offline activities. a) Online registration of new private vehicles b) Information about old vehicles for buying/selling purpose c) Tender notice information system

d) Online filing of application for 11 select certificates like birth, death, marriage certificates, etc. e) Online booking of community halls, parks Q: On introspection, what has been the progress on all of the above e-Government initiatives? A: We have been able to be more open in our administration and decision-making activities through online solutions. People would now be able to follow what we do and how we make decisions closely. I have used the approach of automating those areas first that are problem/worry areas for the employees. This has ensured positive response and active participation from employees in up scaling of the projects. We have been able to achieve our objectives, and I am satisfied with the progress thus far. In addition the turnaround time for government services has been reduced significantly by the online system as depicted in the table.

Government of Delhi: Impact of e-Governance Projects Service Registrar of Cooperative Societies Processing time No. of visits to the government office Availability of Information Computerisation of Driving Licenses Processing time No of visit to the government office Availability of information Computerisation of RC of Vehicles Processing time No of visits to the government office Availability of Information Online registration Delhi Online Sales Tax (DOST) Cross verification of forms Tax payment details Issue of notice to return defaulters Sub Registrar Office Handing over original document Storage of documents Other Services Copy of Land records Issue of Certificates Details of Old Age Pension Lab result of PFA cases Rates of fruits and vegetables Posting of teachers as per admission list Status of funds and infrastructure in schools Finding name in electoral roll Issue of transport permit in excise deptt Status of land acquisition Details of missing children Birth/Death certificate Renewal of factory license Tender notice and tender documents Status of files in secretariat/departments Status of court cases Status of court cases Road cutting information DTC bus route | March – April 2005

Before computerisation

After computerisation

15–20 days 7–8 visits Not available

5–7 days 1visit/Nill Available on website

2–3 days 2–3 visits Not available

1/2 day 1 visit Easily available

2–3 days 2–3visits Not available Not available

1/2 day 1 visit Data on 43 lakhs vehicle registered available on Internet Available for few models of vehicles

Weeks/months Only in files Weeks

Done online Available online Within hours of closing of return period

Weeks Paper form

45 minutes Scanned image

Days to weeks Months Hours/days Few days Not available at on location Few months Not available at one place Cumbersome Days Hours to days Newspaper or office Days Days Newspapers and files Cumbersome Cumbersome Cumbersome Not available to people From outdated bus route charts

On click of button 21 days (including fieldvisit) Available on Internet Available on Internet Available on website One day after close of admission Online status available One call away/Internet Remote printing by licensees On internet Internet Across the counter Across the counter 24×7 basis on Internet On click of mouse On click of mouse On click of mouse Available on Internet Available on Internet 19


Q: What are the e-Government priorities for your team? How happy are you with the achievements of your department? A: My priority, as IT secretary for the Delhi government, is to ‘create an information society for all’. Firstly, this means that government must create affordable access for all, which is a key issue for accessing government services. Secondly, Delhi government must support the creation of content services and applications keeping the citizen as the focal point. Thirdly, I am trying to support the creation of an interpreter application that can interpret databases from different departments and create a central database with common fields so that the interoperability between various applications may be achieved without having to redesign the services for a single window portal. The fourth issue to be addressed is security. Q: What is the scope of Delhi government’s visioning of electronic governance? Any future plans that could be shared with the readers? A: The role of e-Government in achieving goals of transparent and efficient governance is very important. A lot of government activities are based on documents and documentation. These can be digitised, dealt with, stored, and consulted online. This leads to enormous efficiency gain. It makes it possible to give better personal service to citizens, and at the same time, have more efficient public sector and government. For successful e-Government there needs to be both efficiency and equity. It is important that all have access. The experience to date shows that in e-Government solutions there is too much concentration on technology, on the front office, on the web site… and too little on reform of administration, on the back office side. To have a real e-Government solution that gives real benefits, there should be one interface - one portal through which citizens can deal with their government. Reform of public administration is necessary so that the back office, and all inter-department work and administration gets done seamlessly. Public administration needs to be reformed so that they work online, cut down hierarchies, and make it easier to consult each other. And for all of this, you need very strong leadership. Q: For the benefit of the readers what have been some of the landmarks that the Delhi Governments has been able to achieve? A: If I were to list it, it would be the following: • First in the country to connect all sales tax offices and complete back office automation. We could achieve this because all the sales tax offices in Delhi are located in a single building. • We have been able to complete back office automation in 20 offices of the government. Designated government officers from these departments update the data on the portal of the Delhi government every evening. • The gaps in the collection of stamp tax from the sub registrar’s office have been covered based on the automation done there. This has led the government to initiate steps to fix minimum rates for land transaction in various parts of Delhi. • Citizens can track the status of their applications with select departments through the portal, IVR (voice) and SMS. They can dial 23392339 for IVR facility. • Land records for all rural areas of Delhi are available online. Citizens can access these from cyber cafés or home PC. • One department that has completed automation, and merits mention is the Education department. The department received the Golden Award for exemplary leadership and ICT achievement of the year from the Government of India during the 8th National Conference on e-Governance, 2005 in Orissa. Here, functions from accounts, attendance, transfers, to employee salaries etc. are all online. Rajinder Kumar, Director Education, pioneered the efforts. The department was also the first to use GIS for planning of school locations. • Registration of Societies, automation of court cases, health and blood bank services, 11 types of certificates are available under the citizen services initiative. 20

Q: And what about user take-up? Is the citizen response encouraging? A: This is one are where the results have not been up to our expectations. There are some encouraging numbers for marriage certificates though I must admit that users from all walks of life are not using the online services the way we expect them to. Q: Could you give some insight into ongoing projects and future plans? A: Yes • Services of many government departments will be made available through the Citizen Service Bureaus of MCD, 18 of which are already functional and another 100 are expected to be functional by the year-end. • Development of software application to integrate all department databases underway. • Election Photo Identity Card data to be used for integration of some of the databases on people. • Call centre planned for citizen queries and monitoring redressal of grievances. • All technical officers to be trained on eGovernance. Q: What about issues of data retention and right to privacy? A: My government pays utmost importance to data retention, security and citizens right to privacy of information. My department, in particular, gives utmost importance to security and data protection issues. For this purpose, the department has put in place a comprehensive security and audit policy with the help of CDAC, Noida.

Conclusion It is evident from Delhi’s performance that citizens having access to the Internet will have many services online and would be able to avoid long queues at government offices. In all fairness it is hoped that for the rest Delhi government seriously considers setting up citizen service centres. Additionally, it would be interesting to see what initiatives the government takes to enhance the take-up of services, as investments in developing online services cannot be considered achievements in themselves unless long term sustenance and user take-up is ensured. What could be affirmed though is the seriousness with which Delhi is moving towards true e-Governance. Vikas Kanungo www.egov.csdms.org |


COMMENTARY

Making India globally competitive Six sigma e-Governance: Strategy, technology and execution Recent reports published by the United Nations and the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), indicate that India is 34th among all the nations in the world in terms of competitiveness - far behind USA, Singapore, China, Japan and many Western European countries. In this three part essay, this writer would review why India needs to be globally competitive, why and how e-Governance will contribute to the competitiveness, what are the strategies for architecting and developing e-Governance solutions in India, what technologies are appropriate for e-Governance applications that will render it future proof, and most importantly how does one take care of successful execution of e-Governance projects across a huge country such as India.

Why India needs to be competitive? Competitiveness at a national level is based on superior productivity performance and the economy’s ability to shift output to high productivity activities that in turn generate high levels of real wages. It is also associated with rising living standards for citizens and expanding employment opportunities. Competitiveness will provide India not only to have sufficient technological leadership and financial strength to invent new products and solutions for the global market, but also will place India as a nation that can be counted among the top three. It will make available

financial strength to build a robust defence system to protect against external and internal threats. Most importantly, the economic strength obtained through competitiveness will pave the way for India to be a major contributor, active participant and a thought leader in charting the future course of the world in the 22nd century and beyond, when the whole world is predicted to go from the ‘Age of Materialism’ to an ‘Enlightened Age of Creativity and Consciousness’. India need no more play the second fiddle nor be a sideline spectator to whatever the US or Western Europe or China will do.

Let’s not miss the window of opportunity A few hundred years ago, India was a leader in global commerce and cornered almost 25 percent of the global market. Indian finished goods and raw materials were prime foreign exchange earners in the 18th century. Invention of steam power around 1750, singularly changed the course of history and brought in England and other European nations as major players in the global economy. Around 1880, Iron and Steel technology catapulted the United States of America past the UK and many European countries and soon USA could enjoy enhanced productivity, increased standards of living and increased military power. Steel was the turning point that gave the US immense superiority over the whole world and they have not looked back since then. The situation today is no different in terms of the basket of ‘leaders’ [Table 1]. Today, we see a changing paradigm in the global economy. The old Newtonian Model (Mechanical) based on capital, materials and producers has given way to the new Einstenian model (Natural) based on knowledge, creativity and consumers [Table 2] Since we are on the threshold of the Knowledge Economy, ICT technologies have the capability to allow many developing economies to leapfrog and become competent players in the global market. Globalisation, deregulation and technical change have induced intensified competition, and there is a fundamental change in that business is conducted with emphasis on innovation, de-verticalisation, outsourcing and intensive use of information technology. Like Britain’s steam power and US steel, India has a window of opportunity to capitalise on ICT and leapfrog to become a highly competent nation, with appropriate utilisation of innovation related intangibles, human resource intangibles, and organisational

Table 1: Share of World Manufacturing Output by Country Country

1750

1800

1830

1860

1880

1900

1913

1928

1938

1953

1963

1973

1980

West China Japan India/Pak Russia/USSR Brazil/Mex Others

18.2 32.8 3.8 25.5 5.0 15.7

23.3 33.3 3.5 19.7 5.6 14.6

31.1 29.8 2.8 17.6 5.6 13.1

53.7 19.7 2.6 8.6 7.0 0.8 7.6

68.8 12.5 2.4 2.8 7.6 0.6 5.3

77.4 6.2 2.4 1.7 8.8 0.7 2.8

81.6 3.6 2.7 1.4 8.2 0.8 1.7

84.2 3.4 3.3 1.9 5.3 0.8 1.1

78.6 3.1 5.2 2.4 9.0 0.8 0.9

74.6 2.3 2.9 1.7 16.0 0.9 1.6

65.4 3.5 5.1 1.8 20.9 1.2 2.1

61.2 3.9 8.8 2.1 20.1 1.6 2.3

57.8 5.0 9.1 2.3 21.1 2.2 2.5

| March – April 2005

21


Table 2. Changing Paradigm in the Global Economy Category

Mechanical Model

Natural Model

Scientific leaders Economic authority Economic constraint Strategic objectives Central metaphors Leadership implication Structure Organising principles Sources of values

Newton Producers Capital Optimum design Machines/ Clocks Command & control Hierarchies Division of labour Energy & materials

Einstein Consumers Creativity Adaptation Organisms / ecologies Autonomy & vision Self-organising teams Synthesis of minds Knowledge

intangibles. e-Governance is one of the powerful ICT challenges that could catapult India to be a major player in the global knowledge economy. According to the EU Country Competency Indicator, there are eight major indicators that help us monitor the competitiveness of a nation viz access to Finance, Open Market, Entrepreneurship, ICT Infrastructure, Sustainability, Human Resources, Innovation and Knowledge Diffusion, and the Regulatory and Administrative Environment. Making the Regulatory and Administrative Environment of Government of India (GOI) efficient and effective using ICT (e-Governance) will certainly be a significant factor in leapfrogging India to be a competitive nation. But this leapfrogging with ICT must be strategically planned and executed with utmost precision with use of appropriate technologies. If we analyse the Regulatory and Administrative Environment of GOI, it consists of 1000’s of processes both inside government institutions and across institutions. Government being one of the key links in the supply chain of B2C, B2B, G2C and G2B interactions, it is imperative that every process that a government employee or organisation comes in contact with must be executed with flawless precision, for the whole supply chain to be efficient. A weak link or an inefficient process can and will drastically reduce the efficiency of the supply chain and thus impact the overall productivity of the nation. It is imperative therefore that the Indian Government makes every effort to perform each of its tasks (processes) defect free, which in modern enterprise terminology is equivalent to having a Six Sigma Government.

What is Six Sigma? •

A quality standard that is equivalent to generating fewer than 3.4 defects per million process operations. • A methodology that provides government organisations with the tools to improve the capability of their business processes, increase process performance and decrease process variation. Six Sigma leads to defect reduction, improvement in cost of service delivery, enhanced government employee morale and improved quality of service to citizens.

What is Six Sigma e-Governance? Six Sigma is a highly disciplined process that helps any government organisation to focus on developing and delivering near-perfect services. Why ‘Sigma’? The word is a statistical term that measures how far a given process deviates from perfection. The central idea behind Six Sigma is that if you can measure how many ‘defects’ you have in a process, you can systematically figure out how to eliminate them and get as close to ‘zero defects’ as possible. This can be achieved when the Process owner (a Government Employee) has the right tools to monitor a process and the right knowledge to improve it. Six Sigma will impact the DNA of a government organisation — it will change the way a Government organisation works — in everything a government does internally and in every service that government 22

Source: IST 2002

delivers externally, be it the passport office, RTO, electricity supply, or defence.

Need for Six Sigma in Government Globalisation and instant access to information, products and services have changed the way businesses, governments and citizens conduct business — old business models no longer work. Today’s competitive environment leaves no room for error. Governments must delight their customers, be it citizens, businesses or employees and relentlessly look for new ways to exceed their expectations. This is why Six Sigma must become a part of Government culture. The issue of building quality systems and practices is not just confined to high technology businesses and software services companies (like Intel & Infosys). The Singapore Government is one of the first governments to take the lead in building up quality systems and bring in operational excellence by leveraging various technologies. India must follow this paradigm. Six Sigma e-Governance will not only enhance the productivity of the government sector, but will also lead to greater transparency and thus increased international investments in the country. Public sector transparency results from policies, institutions and practices that channel information in ways that improve understanding of public policy, enhance the effectiveness of political processes and reduce policy uncertainty. Prof. Amartya Sen has maintained that public sector transparency is an instrument for achieving high general welfare of citizens and promoting efficient and effective governments.

Strategy for executing Six Sigma e-Governance Today’s scenario In their recent article, “Hope-Hype-Hope” [egov, Jan-Feb 2005], the authors talked about India’s romantic rendezvous with e-Governance. There is tremendous enthusiasm among many a bureaucrat and politician to show off their encounters with e-Governance. In www.egov.csdms.org |


accordance with the typical Indian trait, bureaucrats, despite their inexperience with technology, strive to please their political masters with a G2C e-Governance project. Each IAS officer is trying out their own methods and strategies and pet projects and more astonishingly, each one thinks that their way is the right way. It is important for us to recognise that it is not easy to develop a G2C solution because the customers’ (citizen or business) requirements are too diverse. The requirements vary depending on the type of citizen - a city dweller, a villager, educated, uneducated, man, woman, children etc. In addition, the requirements of G2C interaction need to be multilingual, voice activated, PDA- mobile accessible, suitable for visually impaired, hearing impaired, illiterate, etc. Therefore any G2C solution today will only meet part of the many and diverse requirements. There are too many variables that are not under the direct control of the solution developer.

The right strategy As mentioned earlier, the Regulatory and Administrative Environment of the Indian Government enterprise consists of 1000’s of processes both inside government institutions and across institutions, and government employees and government institutions operate these processes. All these processes are established and are mature. As Michael Hammer (the father of BPR) recently admitted in his latest book Agenda, Business Process Reengineering of mature processes of an enterprise is not easy and may not be a good strategy. He also recommends that enterprises must stay away from BPR, and rather embrace the new Business Process Management paradigm. In the new paradigm, each existing process is e-enabled, each process has a Process Owner whose responsibility will be to monitor the process, control the process, understand the process mechanism, evaluate the process performance and then optimise the process. All this can be accomplished only when GOI implements a process management tool with a well thought out framework of process centric software technology and solution architecture that are relevant for the Government domain. A software framework must be developed which is Process Centric. The framework must be capable of simplifying the task of developing, deploying and managing a complex, integrated, and most importantly standards | March – April 2005

compliant e-Governance solution. The software solution based on process centric framework must be able to seamlessly automate the internal operations of the government and its external interactions with the citizen (G2C) and business (G2B). (Figure 1.0)

Lessons from the private sector Private sector enterprises have implemented Business Process Management solutions (ERP, SCM, KM and CRM) to enhance their supply chain efficiency and effectiveness. The Indian government (Public Sector) enterprise does not have to reinvent the wheel, but only has to recognise that such BPM, ERP and SCM solutions that are specific to the Government domain would be the right strategy for enhancing the efficiency of government processes.

Government ERP system What exactly is government ERP or GRP? ‘GRP’ (Government Resource Planning) refers to an enterprise view of the government business — in other words, a view of a government organisation and all its parts as a connected whole, rather than small silos of activity. GRP relates to the software infrastructure that holds the entire government organisation together internally, on the one hand, and supports the external business processes the Government Organisation engages in, on the other. Some key traits in GRP solutions should be: • GRP applications must address a business process. • GRP applications must be modular and integrated. • GRP applications include a Government Organisation’s reach beyond its walls — to its suppliers, customers (Citizens) and partners. (Figure 2.0) e-enabling government processes with appropriate GRP solutions has been undertaken by many of the advanced countries such as USA, Singapore and Australia. Government organisation ERP and BPM solutions are delivered on established ICT infrastructure including Servers, PC’s, and Network. Besides, the employees working for the government are under direct control, are ‘trainable’, available in one place, mostly educated, and can be motivated through incentives to become proficient in ICT. In every Indian government institution, whether a Panchayat, a Zilla Parishad, a corporation, a municipality, an RTO office, a CSIR Laboratory, a DRDO laboratory, a department at the state level or a department at the centre, internal operations deal with the following major processes: • Budget and Expenditure • Projects and Schemes • H.R and Admin • Purchase, Inventory and Stores • Peripheral processes specific to institutions Fig 1.0: Process-Centric Framework for GRP e-Gov 2.0 Architecture Workflow

Roles and Responsibilities Citizen

Customer, Supplier

Employees

Processes

Internal (G2E, E2G, E2E) Citizen portal

Customer supplier portal

Citizen portal

Electronic Forms and HTML Front Ends

Workflow Engine

Subsystem

Process

Employee

Activity

Customer

Role

Supplier

Transaction

Funders

Department External (G2B, B2G, G2C, G2G)

Account

Organisation Structure

Organisation

Electronic Files and Electronic Records

Account

Admin St & Pr P & A Work flow

Electronic Files and Electronic Records

23


Fig 2.0: Process Collaboration Architecture

e-Gov Process Collaboration

Citizen

Business

Govt Agency

E-Admin Activities Partner Roles and Responsibilities

Parent Agency

E-Finance & Accounts Activities E-Workflow Activities Supply Chain Activities

Supply Chain Processes (Public Processes)

E-Support Activities E-Stores and purchase Activities

Employees

Enterprise Processes (Private Processes)

Using budget and expenditure processes, each institution manages planned or unplanned budget, and tracks and reports the expenditure. Using projects and schemes processes the project is executed, status is monitored and expenditure is tracked. Using HR and Admin processes Government employees are managed through an HR and Admin system with respect to their payroll, PF, leave, LTC, tour, advances, pension, disciplinary action, and many such processes. Purchase and stores processes are used to buy, track, manage and dispose all materials, services and equipment. Though the number of activities under each of the above processes may run into 1000s, and developing and implementing such a GRP solution may seem humongous - it is more easily achievable because the basic government infrastructure operations are more or less uniform across India.

Conclusion In order to achieve global competitiveness, the Government of India must make a conscious decision to implement Six Sigma governance at all the government institutions. The GOI must concentrate on automating all the mature and established internal processes of the government at an accelerated pace, incorporating G2C processes wherever feasible. The primary strategy should be to go inside out rather than outside in. That is G2E first and then G2C. Implementation of BPM and GRP solutions, specifically developed for Government doMaking the Regulatory and main, at Government Institutions Administrative Environment of as an indispensable infrastructure is a fundamental necessity Government of India (GOI) and the appropriate primary efficient and effective using ICT strategy to eventually achieve successful e-Governance across (e-Governance) will certainly G2C, G2B and G2G. be a significant factor in Automation of internal process operations reduces their cost leapfrogging India to be a of ownership and improves their competitive nation. response time. At the same time it 24

Employee Roles and Responsibilities

Enterprise Workflow Engine

allows government processes to be more flexible and elaborate in order to increase their effectiveness. Automation of external processes (interaction with citizens and businesses) reduces the overload for both the citizen and the government, thus enhancing the overall productivity of the whole nation. Note Note: In part II of this article, Dr. Shankara Prasad would address the technical and technological issues of establishing Six Sigma e-Governance. Reference Reference: Paul Bairoch, “International Industrialization levels from 1750 to 1980�, Journal of European Economic History, 11, 1982 pp. 269-334.

Dr. Shankara Prasad is the Chairman and Managing Director of Inkroma e-Business Solutions, in Bangalore. He can be reached at shankara.prasad@inkroma.com

www.egov.csdms.org |


COMMENTARY

Women friendly e-Governance: Present reality in Nepal e-Governance is a relatively new term in the South Asian context. It is an even newer concept in Nepal, where it has different connotations for different people. To begin with, the use of Information Communication and Technology (ICT), especially Internetbased technologies, to provide government information and services is what e-Governance is all about. The use of technology has been effective in providing easy services to clients who have access to the technology. This concept of incorporating technologies is helpful in increasing accountability and transparency of government institutions that ultimately would lead to the process of promoting good governance in any country. There are three different sectors of this type of governance viz government to business (G2B), government to government (G2G) and government to citizen (G2C). Most of the sustainable e-Governance models are citizen centric models. In G2B, the focus of the government is the market sector. It comprises initiatives taken for promoting e-Commerce be it in the form of providing market information online or developing policies and guidelines for facilitating the process of providing market information and services to the clients. G2G is mainly related to increasing institutional linkages between different government departments. This process is essential in building a strong team spirit in the government sector. The third component of e-Governance is the one that has attracted the attention of most people in Nepal.

ICT and Nepal The national vision of Nepal on e-Governance is concerned with ‘National Information Technology (IT) Development, Computerisation of Government development information systems, and its implementation at the district level to achieve good governance’. Nepal first entered the world of IT with the introduction of the IBM 1401 computer systems for processing Census Data in 1971. Looking at the potential of IT, His Majesty’s Government (HMG) of Nepal established an autonomous centre named the Electronic Data Processing Centre (EPDC) in 1974, later re| March – April 2005

named the National Computer Centre (NCC) in 1978. The Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), which was established in 1996, took a lead role in promoting and facilitating the effective use of IT. Besides, the National IT Development Council, the National IT Coordination Committee, the National IT Centre, and the IT Park Development Committee are some other institutions established within the country. Although the establishment of an institution is a preliminary step for facilitating any process, some policy guidelines would help these institutions to perform well in the long run. The Nepali government started to prepare the National Information Technology (IT) policy in the late 1990s. The National Planning Commission was delegated the responsibility of preparing the IT Policy. After a year, the IT policy 2000 was prepared to place Nepal on the global map of information technology in the subsequent five years. There is a new IT Policy, 2004 still in the discussion phase. The changed vision is that by the year 2015 Nepal would have transformed itself into a knowledge-based society by becoming fully capable of harnessing information and communication technologies to achieve the goal of good governance, poverty reduction, and social and economic development. In the document, there are three goals: • To make IT accessible to the general public and increase employment through this means • To build knowledge-based industries and • To build a knowledge-based society While reviewing the document, it is interesting to note that the IT Policy of Nepal is very gender neutral. There is not even a single provision to make ICT accessible to women and other marginalised sections of the country. Is it because the government thinks that women already have access to this technology or is it because this is still not a priority area for the government? This is a crucial question for the state.

Women friendly e-Governance The UNDP Human Development Report, 1999 on the gender aspects of the use of ICT and ICT related services showed that ‘women accounted for 38 percent of the users in the United States, 25 percent in Brazil, 17 percent in Japan and South Africa, 16 percent in Russia, only 7 percent in China, and a mere 4 percent in the Arab States. It clearly indicated that there was minimal access of women to ICT. This situation is even worse in developing countries such as Nepal.

Nepal seems relatively inclined to gender neutrality in IT Planning, policy formulation and implementation. Some of the major challenges that retard promotion of women friendly e-Governance are: poor access of women to education and economic opportunities, inadequate number of women IT professionals, and inadequate political willingness for implementing gender sensitive concepts 25


Political parties in the country do not have adequate knowledge and exposure to the manner in which advanced technology could bring about changes in a short period of time. Most of the leaders be it in the political or the organisational field, find more comfort in dealing with traditional forms of communication like newspapers, reports and documents than Internet-based communication facilities. However, things are changing. The fact that Information Communication Technology in Nepal is highly gender neutral has been proved by a review of Old and New Nepalese IT Policies. The policy makers do not feel that there is a need for developing an additional strategy for increasing access of this technology to women. A review of gender neutral and gender sensitive planning processes to study the status of gender sensitisation in the IT policy formulation board would be useful.

The road travelled e-Governance is a concept adopted for channelling government services and information to different clients. Women constitute nearly half of the population in Nepal i.e. 50.04 percent out of total population of 22,736,934 (National Population Census 2001). Therefore, strategies should be designed to have easy access of women to these services. This would lead to an efficient e-Governing mechanism, which is only possible when the government and civil society are gender sensitive

26

in the planning phase of e-Governance. As Nepal is in the initial stage of e-Governance, it is a favourable condition to incorporate gender sensitive planning and thereby women friendly e-Governance in Nepal. However, the road travelled appears like this: • The rural literacy rate for females is 36.5 percent and the urban rate is 61.5 percent (Women in Governance, 2003). Inadequate literacy and exposure of these women do not make them confident of playing with different tools and techniques. • Out of 1000 persons in Nepal, 32 have telephone lines, 6 have access to mobile phones, 8 with TV sets, 39 with radio access, 5 with personal computers, and 60 persons with Internet access. UN statistics show that only 22 percent of Asian women have access to the Internet.

Planning Phases Issue identification and analysis

Gender Neutral Analysis based on macro information: number of telephone lines, internet connections, mobile connections

Gender Sensitive Analysis based on information related to women: how many women are linked with telephone, Internet, mobile and other communication services, access of women to these services (distance and expense)

Selection of Core Issue

No mention of issues related to women and girls but assumed that addressing issues of total community will automatically address issues of women and girls

Mention of issues of women and girls most specifically poor and rural ones for accessing communication services

Formulation of Issue based plan/policy Formulated with IT professionals, government personnel, national level civil draft society organisations

Formulated with IT professionals, government personnel, grass roots based civil society organisations, women activists and analysts

Policy/plan developed to increase connectivity/ penetration into total households

Policy and plan developed to increase connectivity/ penetration with specific consideration of women issues such as time and expense, with specific targets to increase connectivity to women by developing women-led telecentre schemes

Implementation of plan/ policy

Executed by professionals (specifically men) and government personnel with specific focus on achieving overall impact

Executed with joint efforts of women leaders, grassroots-based organisations, and gender sensitive professionals with specific focus on achieving gender impact

Monitoring and Evaluation

Based on process and progress indicators

Same, but also based on gender and class indicators

Renewal and Redesign

Related to findings on overall impact of the plan/policy and consideration given more to community need

Related to findings on gender impact of the plan/policy with consideration to gender need www.egov.csdms.org |


There is a larger number of male software developers than female. According to the IDEC study of 2001, the Asia/Pacific region, with 1.7 million software developers, is currently the number two producer of development talent, surpassing Western Europe’s 1.6 million developers, but well behind North America’s 2.6 million professional developers. There are very few women software developers in the world and the number is fewer in developing countries such as Nepal. Then there is the issue that almost all computer software is male friendly. So, there is a need for increasing the number of women software and programme designers who would develop women friendly computer tools. Women have very little participation in political governance. Women constitute 5.8 percent of the House of Representatives, and 9.6 percent in local governance. The case in IT governance is no different. A high level commission for IT (HLCIT) chaired by the Prime Minister was formed in 2003. The key mandate of the HLCIT was to serve as an apex institute to provide support to the government in the formulation, implementation and monitoring of IT policy and strategy. There is not even a single woman member in the Executive Board of the commission. As per one of the staff members, there are 19 staffs in the commission of which only three are women (1 Advisory/Consultant and 2 Junior Officers). This low representation of women in the committee is a symptom of the gender-neutral policy in the country. The Computer Association of Nepal (CAN), which was established in 1992, has been striving to boost knowledge and awareness about computers and IT in Nepal. The association has 351 members. Only three percent are women (9 members). Can this small percentage of women representatives force the remaining 97 percent (male members) to raise Gender and IT issues at the national level? The real concern is to increase the representation of women members in these associations and committees that can influence national and international communication policies. | March – April 2005

Women have very little access to economic resources though the daily average working hours for women is 16 hours. Women own eight percent of total landholdings, four percent households have female ownership, and they constitute eight percent of civil service positions (Nepal Human Development Report, 2004). Women’s access to employment is limited only to 16.5 percent, while the male counterparts in the country use the other opportunities (FWLD, 1998). The cost of accessing Internet and email is very expensive in Nepal. The extension of infrastructure, particularly wireless and satellite communication, to the rural mass is crucial for increasing women’s access to information technology. There are some ISP Providers like World Link that are committed to providing Internet services to rural areas. However, the need for recognising similar market players that are inclined to the social sector is ever more, and these providers should also be gender sensitised so that they make special efforts to network women into the wireless community.

Efforts Providing information related to economic opportunities is essential for empowering women. This is possible through women friendly e-Governance. Since the country is heavily dependent on agriculture, and since women constitute a major agricultural force in the country, different agro-based information and tele-agro services could be provided to rural areas giving more emphasis to women. e-Governance could also be a tool for increasing access to formal and non-formal education, health services and information, and other government services. It will ultimately improve the quality of the life of women and their families. However, the transformation process should be SMART (Simple, Moral, Accountable, Responsive and Transparent) in order to ensure sustainability of transformation process. Promotion of e-Governance cannot be possible without the effective use of ICTs. There has been some initia- tion of projects such as the Rural Urban Partnership Programme (RUPP), a joint collaboration of UNDP and the Nepal Government. The programme has enhanced the capacity of the government (municipality) to provide online services like birth, death and map registrations. The Home Ministry has also started computerising databases of nationality certificates. This computerisation process started in 10 of the 75 districts of the country. Then, with the support of UNDP the Nepal government has established some telecentres. The Parbat telecentre is one of the best where the operator is a grassroots level young girl who is computer literate and provides information to villagers as per their requirements. However, one of the major issues that arise is, is it enough to have women only in the operational phase? Should the status of these women be upgraded so that they have a say in managing these centres? Similarly, the content of the Internet plays a significant role in raising interest in Internet-based tools. Most of the content is in English and the percentage that can read and write the language in the country is abysmal. This shows that English-based Internet has been useful to only a limited population of the country. The development of ‘local content’ should be one of the prioritised areas. Special consideration should also be given to citizen centric approaches for disseminating information. In most of the government portals, information is developed on the basis of different departments and sections in the concerned Ministry. It is assumed that citizens should know the relevant departments for accessing any 27


service. This needs to be redressed and information should be developed and disseminated keeping citizens - the major clients of the information- in mind. Then again, while it is known that there are rural-based telecentres that have been essential in providing information services to grassroots clients, do women have enough time to go to these centres and collect information due to their domestic/family workload? There are two types of needs here - one is a practical need, and the other strategic. There should be fulfilment of basic practical needs that provide women more time to get involved in other external activities. Added responsibilities should also bring more access to financial resources for these marginalised women. There are several grassroots women working voluntarily in the social sector. There should be mechanisms where these women can also earn for their time. One of the ways could be training these grassroots women (literate) to operate and manage similar telecenters. The empowerment of these women should be the ultimate target of gender sensitive planning be it social, economic or political empowerment. Regarding the sustainability of these telecentres, they have been established in market areas that are generally too distanced for these women to visit. Sometimes these centres open only in the evenings when it is not considered safe or convenient for these women. Then, there are inhibitions and ‘fears’ about computers and technologies as womenfolk are usually brought up in a culture where these items are regarded as ‘for males only’. There are several stories in Nepal where women have been ragged for joining computer classes. So, there is a need for increasing awareness both of men and women regarding the relevance of ICT for empowerment and development processes.

Conclusion e-Governance is in an embryonic stage. In this early stage, it is comparatively easier to incorporate gender sensitive strategies and policies. There is a strong need to sensitise IT professionals and policy makers in terms of women friendly eGovernance. Enhancing the professionalism of the women involved in the IT sector is one step in this direction. Even with their present numbers, they should be incorporated into policy formulation committees. This would raise gender concerns in ICTs and also provide alternative solutions to increase the access of women to these technologies, information and e-Governance. Government and the civil society should play critical roles in providing basic education to all women. Besides, there should also be increased awareness and capacity to make the best use of eGovernance. There should be maximum dissemination of information on available government services like birth and death registration, citizenship, etc. Civil society can play a vital role in disseminating such information to the target communities. Apart from the government sector, civil society should increasingly work to create a role model in promoting women friendly e-Governance at the rural level. Developing local content for dissemination could be something that both the government and civil society could look at in a joint manner. The content should be developed on the basis of womens’ information-need, and this study of information-need should also act as a basis for improving e-Governance services. e-Governance could then reach the stage where it begins to promote social, economic and political empowerment of women for the holistic development of the country. References Women in Nepal, ADB, 1999 Country paper of Nepal, ASP Seminar for Industry Association in the ICT Sectors, Poorna Bhadra Adiga, 2002 Ways to digital democracy, interview with Prahanth Gebbar, IBM, www.ciol.com/content/ services/egov The impact of the internet on NGOs in Nepal, Veneeta Singha and Hao Xiaming, 2004

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Is Information Technology Gender- Neutral? Nancy Hafkin, IDRC, 2001 Thinking about Gender and ICTs in Developing countries, Nancy Hafkin, IDRC, 2001 Women in Governance, Rita Bhadra, SAP-Nepal, 2003 The first CEDAW Impact Study, Country Paper, FWLD, Malla Pradhan Sapana, 1998 Comparison between Gender Neutral and Gender Sensitive Policy Processes for Universal Access, Nancy Hafkin and Nancy Taggart, IDRC, 2000 Empowerment and Governance through Information and Communication Technologies: women’s perspectives, Vikas Nath, London School of Economics, 2000-1 www.cddc.vt.edu The transformative Potential of E-governance in Transitional Democracies, Jeffrey W. Seifert and G. Matthew Bonham Information Technology Policy 2000, His Majesty’s Government of Nepal Information Technology Policy,2004, His Majesty’s Government of Nepal, High Level Commission for IT ICT in Nepal, Status and Opportunities, Poorna B. Adiga, 2002 Gender Equality and ICTs: E-governance and Issues to Overcome Digital Divide in Nepal, Jayalakshmi P Chittoor and Shikha Shrestha, 2003 Database of Citizenship now in Computer, Saptahik Weekly Newspaper, 5 November 2004 Asia’s women in agriculture, environment and rural production, Nepal, Sustainable Development Department (SD), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2004 Women’s Portal in e-Government: Australian case study, School of Business and Informatics, Australian Catholic University, Sydney, Girija Krishnaswamy, Paper presented at the International Conference on Women in e-Governance, Chidambaram, 20-21 December 2004. Country Paper of Nepal, ASP Seminar for Industry Association in the ICT sectors, Bangkok, P. B. Adiga, 2002. “Overcoming the Gender Digital Divide: Understanding of ICTs and their Potential for the Empowerment of Women”, INSTRAW Research Paper Series No. 1, S. Huyer and T. Sikoska, 2003.

Shikha Shrestha Program Coordinator Bellanet South, Asia sshrestha@bellanet.org

www.egov.csdms.org |


COMMENTARY

e-Governance and more Eighth National conference on e-Governance “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint’, then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced”. –Vincent Vincent Van Gogh Dutch Painter Clearly more than one of the administrators from the IT field of the government (as well as the private) had drawn inspiration from Van Gogh. The Department of Information Technology, and the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public grievances, Government of India (GOI) along with the Department of Information Technology, Government of Orissa organised the Eighth National Conference on e-Governance in Bhubaneswar in the first week of February 2005. The theme for the 3-day conference (3-5 February) was ‘Capacity building for e-Governance’. The conference was set rolling by the Union Communications & Information Technology Minister, Dayanidhi Maran, who reiterated the Central Government’s commitment to e-Governance in the National Common Minimum Programme in his inaugural address. The Chief Minister of Orissa, Naveen Pattnaik and the Minister for IT, Energy & Tourism, Orissa, Surjya Narayan Patro, echoed a similar sense of support and determination, with an open mind to nurturing collaboration with the private sector. The who’s who from government and the private sector was present at the packed event that was organised at the Swosti Plaza in Bhubaneswar. The profile of the participants was largely government (bureaucrats, administrators), and the next large grouping was of private (systems/service providers) players. As an annual event the Government of India has organised conferences in collaboration with state governments in the past, aimed at building the capacity of various stakeholders – government agencies, private partners, academia, media, and other interested groups. The Orissa conference was an opportune moment for all participants to disseminate/share success stories (or lessons | March – April 2005

learnt from failures) of e-Governance initiatives in states. It doubled up as a platform to recognise and appreciate successful implementers, and a forum for private players involved with e-Governance initiatives to expand business opportunities with emphasis on opportunities for the IT industry for fostering public-private partnerships (PPPs) in this area. The overall purpose was to facilitate learning from all public-private experiences, which could help states and organisations to formulate their own implementation plans towards a citizen-centric system of Governance. Following the formal inauguration the event saw interesting presentations from the government and private sector over the course of three days. Brijesh Kumar, Secy. IT, Government of India, outlined the road travelled thus far in the area of e-Government and the ‘islands of successes’ that were functional. He outlined the vision and approach of the National e-Governance Action Plan (NEGAP), ably supplemented by R. Chandrasekhar, Joint Secretary (e-Governance), Department of IT, Government of India in a subsequent presentation that looked at NEGAP in detail. Chandrashekhar stressed the importance of focussing (at the project and programme level) on the importance of building capacity for eGovernance with attention to change management, technology, financial management, project/programme management, and project formulation and appraisal. Other presentations from the government either showcased the ‘islands’ of success (Income Tax Office-CBDT, Central Board for Excise and Customs, e-Mitra Case, Governments of Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, West Godavari District Eluru - Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Centre for Railway Information Systems), or focussed on successful intervening agencies (National academy of administration Mussoorie, Centre for Good Governance, Hyderabad, NIC, C-DAC, Software Technology Parks of India).

Relevant observations •

The case study on the computerised processing of returns in the Income tax department highlighted the increase in returns processed (in 2004-05) through such an exercise as amounting to 1,16,23,167 (compared to 14,83,872 in 200102). It also discussed the benefits to the government department in terms of savings to the exchequer in the interest payable on delayed refunds, and improved overall productivity. The presentation from Indian Railways highlighted the advantages of CRIS (the Internal IT Service Provider for Indian Railways)-aided automation of rail services that includes the Freight operations information systems, Passenger reservation systems, the Unreserved ticketing system enabling e-Reservation, e-Payment of Freight, and the National Train Enquiry System, among other services. 29


The launch issue of e-Gov magazine being released by Dayanidhi Maran, Minister of IT, Government of India, and Naveen Patnaik, CM of Orissa •

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The Presentation from the ELCOT-supported RASI (Rural Access to Services through the Internet; started as a pilot at Melur in Madurai) programme in Tamil Nadu described the role that RASI has been able to play with the support of all local players in providing services to rural citizens at proximate locations and lower costs. The outcome has been dissemination of valuable information and empowerment of rural women eventually reflecting in improved rural economic performances. From intervening agencies, such as the Centre for Good Governance, the lack of strong domain knowledge, the need for clarified settlement and organisation of ownership and coordination issues in the government, need for data standards, Meta data standards and service delivery definitions (important for inter-operability), and the importance of back-end overhauling were highlighted. Given the resistance to the use of IT in the government sector the need to address this mindset with the involvement of all key stakeholders with well-designed ‘Change Management Programmes’ was also stressed. Also underlined was the need for efforts to promote general ICT literacy with local language content and application. The presentation from the government of Rajasthan highlighted the strengthening of the e-Mitra initiative in the state, which involves the integration of the existing LokMitra (Payment of electricity, water bills, online bus ticketing, issuance of Births and Death certificates, among other services) and JanMitra services (Public grievance redressal, online submission of application forms, access to Land & Revenue Records (ROR) and other Government information, among other services). The presentation on the Tiruvarur District e-Governance initiative, Government of Tamil Nadu, focussed on the district’s continued successful functioning with the services of Land record administration, National Old

Age Pension scheme, Widow pension scheme, Distress & Accident Relief Scheme, Driving license & Vehicle Driving license & Vehicle registration, Birth and death registration - issue of certificates of certificates, and HR administration across all 7 Taluk offices, 10 Block offices, Collectorate and the DRDA. It set the tone and precedence for sustained and targeted use of resources (personnel and material) for projects across the country. • The presentation on the rural e-Seva initiative in the West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh captured the delivery of various G2C and C2C services to citizens through computerised centres in the villages on a district wide network linked through a portal. The star feature of the services has been their ability to leverage the case of women self-help groups to enable them to become ‘information leaders’. A commendable 1.8 million transactions have been completed till date. • The presentation on Panchayati Raj Institutions in Orissa highlighted the relevance (for rural citizens) of the ePanchayat initiatives to inform, interact, and transact business on the Internet. The three-tier PRIs are inter-linked electronically with the Directorate and Secretariat with automated Fund flow, Financial accounting, Project monitoring, and Beneficiaries monitoring. • The NISG presentation looked at key issues (and challenges therein) of Project Development (Creativity, Research and Analysis, Consultation, High-end Resources) and Project Management (Planning Ability, Field Work, Coordination, Medium Resources), which were identified as the pillars for e-Governance initiatives. The scope for resolving the lacuna under each activity was also discussed along with a discussion on Open Standards and Interoperability. Private sector representation put up the case for successful private participation (actual or intended) through presentations by IBM, Tata Consultancy Services, Oracle India, Wipro Infotech, Intel Solution Services, CISCO, Network Appliance, HP India Ltd., Oracle Corporation, Newgen Software Technologies Limited, Red Hat India Pvt. Ltd, Storage Networking Industry Association, CMS Computers Ltd, among others. Private www.egov.csdms.org|


partner presentations focussed on collaborative service delivery models, sustainable revenue models/ Business models, achievable implementation schedules, automation of Workflow in Government, and the reduced cost over-runs that would be the outcome of public-private partnership. Private players thematically outlined the issue-area of e-Governance, with several service providers focussing on promoting innovative public private partnership models by offering: • Application technologies for managing government finance (treasury; public expenditure management, etc) • Architectural Framework supports • Elaborate systems of information management • Knowledge management supports • Backend Processing Systems • Infrastructure and capacity-building supports (Network Infrastructure (SWAN)) • Interoperability Standards supports • Open Source software options and Open Standards for Storage & Networking • Integrated Admin and Control Systems supports • Storage solutions In all, private participation stressed on their role as key players for project planning, execution and management. As mentioned earlier, several others pitched in for the efficacy of their solutions in the field. Over the three days of deliberations, discussions and presentations, the strategy for implementing e-Governance initiatives was outlined to remain rooted in people, processes and technology in place of the misunderstood e-Governance = technology equation. The need to stress on Project Management right from conceptualisation to implementation stage and beyond was accorded critical importance in the various public-private presentations. Also understood was the need to realign governance processes with due attention to change management, and leadership commitment for administrative and legal reforms. The government was also forthcoming in understanding the need for PPPs at various levels (particularly to address process reengineering issues and scalable solution frameworks). The final day of the Eighth National Conference was marked by a discussion on the achievement of the United Nations system’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by Subas Pani, Chief Secretary, Orissa, Shekhar | March – April 2005

Dasgupta (Oracle), Pradeep Gupta (Cybermedia), and Javed Tapia (Red Hat India Pvt. Ltd). The three-day event was aptly summarised by R. Chandrashekhar to bring out relevant segments from the earlier days. Several speakers suggested the need to ‘Standardise, Localise and Replicate’ (localisation framework for e-Governance), and the need for an IT backbone in the form of the indispensable infrastructural pillars of: • Connectivity through State Wide Area Networks (SWANs)/NICNET • National Data Bank/ State Data Centres (SDCs), and • Common Service Centres (CSCs) as primary mode of delivery The presentations underlined the need for single presence of the government that would allow shared personalised data, integrated workflows, and cross-agency integration. Some relevant observations stressed on at the meet included: • Importance of champions in initiating and following through e-Government initiatives • The need to utilise existing infrastructure and to create Government call centres • Need for law to keep pace with technology in the context of e-Government, and vice versa • Need for citizen-centric approaches in e-Governance as opposed to a myopic department-centric view. • Need for interoperable framework and standards • Need for systematic assessment and evaluation of projects • Need to address local language issues • Need to replicate successful projects, and create institutional capacities • Need for states to work out specific projects, goals, timelines, capacity gaps The valedictory note from Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Government of India, enthralled the audience with anecdotal references to emperor Ashoka whom he described as the finest of administrators with a literal sense of transparency as could be made out from the carvings on several of the rocks in erstwhile Kalinga. The occasion was also utilised to felicitate the winners of the National Essay Contest. Was the event a success? The event was successful to the extent that it allowed implementers and decision makers to assess what was on offer and to build collaborative networks. It is only when a lot of the interest generated by the conference translates to ease in access to public information and services that any such effort could be deemed a complete success. Until then the glass is either halffull or half-empty. Joe Thomas K 31


BOOKS

Book review Government online: Opportunities and Challenges MP Gupta, Prabhat Kumar and Jaijit Bhattacharya 2004; Tata McGraw-Hill Publishing Company Limited, New Delhi 595 pages; Price not available ISBN 0-07-058323-4 e-Government, a relatively new phenomenon world over, has come with a great development promise but without the blueprint for its deployment. With a promise to put government online (providing services to citizens on anytime anywhere basis), it introduces a new quality to the governments and consumers of public services. However, with the lack of understanding of the complex issues of strategies, technological issues, change management requirements and business process reengineering warranted for online government, we experience less than full satisfaction with the results achieved. Government online: Opportunities and Challenges by M.P. Gupta, Prabhat Kumar and Jaijit Bhattacharya helps the readers in understanding the concept of online governments. It makes an informed attempt in preparing a strategic and technical framework for implementing the single window government concept, in addition to learning about initiatives in various parts of the world. The diverse backgrounds of the authors - M.P. Gupta (an academician), Prabhat Kumar (from the government), and Jaijit Bhattacharya (from the corporate world) has enabled them to address the issues in a comprehensive manner touching not just the technology issues, but management related matters as well. The book is organised into three sections in eighteen chapters that deal with the key issues involving e-Government. The first section starts with the famous statement of Mahatma Gandhi: After attaining Swaraj (Self Governance), We must attain Suraj (Good Governance). It deals with strategic issues through six chapters dedicated to the emergence of the concept of governance and its history, new paradigms and value propositions, deployment of e-Government initiatives, leadership issues, reform processes, and a discussion on public private partnership models (involving private sector and civil society organisations). This section is of use to readers interested in understanding the process of governance, various models of e-Governance presented by researchers, corporate entities and academicians. The section also presents lots of case studies with the key learning practices. The second section of the book also contains six chapters and focuses on the technological aspects of implementing e-Government. The section has been designed in such a way that readers with a non-technical background can also understand the processes involved in making the technology choices for the e-Government projects. In this section the authors elaborate on the issues concerning appropriate architecture and technology standards. Details on technologies like citizen identification systems, smart cards, bio informatics, and geographical information systems have been provided besides discussion on ebusiness models, data management and security. The chapter on benchmarking 32

e-Government projects and government websites may be of relevance to government agencies entrusted with the task of sanctioning funds for various projects. The last section focuses on the key requirements, and proposes some solutions from the industry perspective. The solutions for treasury management, citizen identification solutions and secretariat information system have been detailed. The influence of the author with the corporate background on this section is evident. The final word of caution from the authors rightly points out that Government Online should not be seen merely as a technology solution as technology cannot solve the problem of poor governance, corruption and frustrations of the citizens. Corruption may easily turn into e-corruption; bad government may become bad e-Government and rising user frustrations may turn into e-frustrations if government online comes merely as the computerisation of existing practices as, “e-Government is like a large canvass on which the people can draw a new view, the citizen-centered view of their government”. Overall, the book is an attempt by the authors to cover almost everything related to strategic and technical aspects of implementing single window government. The book is intended to present a holistic view on e-Governance charting a roadmap in terms of strategy and technology for transforming the existing government to e-Government or online government. Readers looking for a book that can act as a step-by-step guide to implementing customised e-Government projects based upon the local needs will not find satisfaction from the book. Additional focus on preparing a project report for e-Government, knowledge management tools, e-Governance assessment frameworks, specific benchmarking tools and techniques, and ‘to do’ checklists for e-Government initiatives would have been useful, though the book has been able to put together some outstanding international cases which shed light on the numerous ways in which different approaches can be developed to realise the vision of government online. Vikas Kanungo www.egov.csdms.org |


BOOKS

Books received Government@net - new governance opportunities for India By Kiran Bedi, Parminder Jeet Singh and Sandeep Srivastava 2001, Sage Publications India Private Limited, New Delhi, India 374 Pages, Price INR 320 ISBN: 0-7619- 9569-2 (US-PB) Government@net is a path-breaking book by two eminent personalities from the Indian Police Services, and one professional from the industry (Sandeep Srivastava). Through this book the authors have brought together their experience as administrators, trainers and professionals in demystifying the use of Internet-based technologies to broaden the reach of governmental activities and services in a manner customised to the local context. The book sheds light on the emerging horizons of the eventual governance roles and processes, and attempts to set out the necessary framework for new governance opportunities in India. The book is organised into 14 chapters with a foreword from Verghese Kurien, Chairman, National Cooperative Dairy Federation of India Ltd, who aptly talks of the book as describing “a new vehicle and a road map to ride our way to becoming a developed nation”. The authors discuss a plethora of issues ranging from - the present scenario of governance, eGovernance as a concept, localisation, basics on electronic governance, need for citizen-centric governance, technology, role of private players to the roadblocks on the course of e-Governance. The first two chapters set the agenda by introducing the Internet and describ| March – April 2005

ing the window of opportunity the Internet and related technologies present for governance. The third chapter outlines the basic principles of Internet, while chapters four and six discuss local knowledge communities and citizen-centric governance. Chapter five discusses the need and opportunities for governmental intervention in the areas of basic needs. The next five chapters describe in detail the areas where the governments can harness the potential of the Internet in performing their tasks while the twelfth chapter describes the technology requirements for performing these functions. The 13th chapter talks about the roadblocks in using the Internet for development while the last chapter is dedicated to describing all the thoughts in the book. Whereas most books on the subject have declared that ‘change management’ for implementing Internet-based technologies is a big challenge, the authors of the book have interestingly portrayed Internet as the ‘change management’ tool. The authors go to the extent of stating that the Internet and the government are made for each other. In addition the book proposes a novel financing model that would give governments greater leverage in harnessing their unique competencies in the socio-economic panorama, in addition to taking the best practices from all over the world (with appropriate examples from thoughtful initiatives in India). Overall the book presents the big picture by integrating new thinking on democracy, community living, rural structures, innovative participation by the private sector, and new revenue opportunities for the government.

e-Governance [in Hindi] By Shashi Shukla 2003, M.P. Hindi Granth Academy (GoMP), Bhopal 150 pages; Price INR 60 ISBN unavailable

At the very outset eGovernance [in Hindi] comes across as unique for the simple reason that it one of the very few efforts of writing in vernacular languages on similar issue-areas. In fact, the book has the recognition of being the first book on e-Governance in any Indian language, with an award from the Department of IT, Government of India (GoI) for original writing in Hindi on IT. Interestingly, Shukla has been a regular writer on IT and Science related matters for Electroniki Apke Liye, and her previous book Internet [in Hindi] also won an award from DIT. With eight chapters running into 150 pages, the book under consideration is essentially a primer for the general public and officers/officials of Hindi speaking areas. It allows familiarisation with basic terminologies and concepts, and also describes e-Governance and related issues, various e-Governance applications and projects implemented in India, use of IT in Government sector, and IT applications used for rural areas. In terms of depth of coverage, the book covers ‘Gyandoot’ (implemented in Panna district of Madhya Pradesh) in detail. On the side it discusses other e-Governance applications/projects viz Warna Project, Kotmi Sonar (BilaspurChhattisgarh), Lokmitra (Himachal Pradesh), Webciti (Punjab), Suchanamitra, Panchamahal e-Gov Project (Gujarat), CIC (Northeast states), e-Seva (Andhra Pradesh), Gramdoot (Rajasthan), Lokmitra (Rajasthan), Vishakhapattanam Nagar Nigam Online, and Delhi Government Online, among others. For the medium of publication, clearly the book has some role to play in sensitising officials at various levels to cope up with process reengineering efforts and the aim unto which these processes are undertaken. A lot of the discussion has knowledge value as well. The book also has a list of Government of India websites, besides listing of official websites of nearly all the countries around the world. 33


NEWS REVIEW

India

Indian villages to get rural kiosks At the 8th National Conference on e-Governance held in the Indian state of Orissa [February 2005], the Union Government set a target of 100 000 village information and communication kiosks to be set up by the end of the current Plan period (2006-07). Opinion from states such as Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, which have e-Governance applications in rural areas, have already been taken. According to the officials, the kiosks would be set up on a public-private participation basis and will be driven by the district level administration, with help from the State and Central governments.

CM’s mass contact programme

In the Indian state of Kerala, the State government has launched a website www.keralacm.gov.in in order to make the Chief Minister’s mass contact programme more transparent and efficient. New complaints can be posted on it, and Non-Resident Indians can also send their messages and complaints through the site. Another feature of the site is that the audio recording of the Chief Minister’s cabinet briefing would be made available immediately after the event through the website.

Taskforce for speed The Department of Administrative Reforms & Pensions and Grievances (DAR&PG) and Department of Information Technology (DIT) have together set-up a taskforce for e-Governance processes in order to redefine government processes and to develop 34

state-wide solution framework options to enhance interoperability among state governments. Leading IT majors, management institutions and consultancy majors such as the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, (IIM-C), Oracle, Hewlett Packard, PriceWaterhouse Coopers, Intel, Red Hat and Liqvid have been selected as members of the taskforce.

Riot bills to be digitised soon In the Indian capital of New Delhi, the Ministry of Home Affairs will post a legislation that proposes to arm the government with special powers to deal with communal riots in the country, on the Internet, for wider consultations. The Union Minister for Home Affairs, Shivraj Patil has said that the bill that was promised by the Congress in its manifesto, is a key legislation, and they want to hold wider consultations before placing its final version in the Parliament. The bill would have provisions for conduct of court hearings on a day-to-day basis. The role of the police would be made proactive, and it would be mandatory for law-enforcing agencies to set up special centres in riot-affected areas for lodging of First Information Reports (FIRs).

Election Commission introduces online registration facility The Election Commission of India has launched an online registration facility for new voters in New Delhi. This will help eligible voters in the capital to add their names to the voters’ list online. The new online registration ‘Form 6’ is available on the website http:// www.ceodelhi.com. This has primarily been made available to improve

communication between the electors and the Department of Elections in Delhi. It provides adequate and relevant information about the office of the Chief Electoral Officer and the various activities conducted by the department.

World Bank financial assistance to e-Governance Action Plan

The World Bank is discussing with the Centre for providing financial assistance to the INR 250 billion National e-Governance Action Plan (NEGAP). The plan aims at inter-linking all the states and Union Territories through the Information Technology (IT) network. The scheme would cover 10 main areas including land records, property registration, transport, and revenue collection, among others. At present the World Bank is discussing the matter with the Union finance ministry for extending loan assistance for implementing e-Governance programmes. www.egov.csdms.org |


‘e-Tout’ in rural India A professor from the College of Business Administration, University of Rhode Island, Nikhilesh Dholakia, had this to write in his article on his recent visit to India. A colleague narrated this tale of a villager dealing with the district-level government bureaucracy in a particular district of Madhya Pradesh (MP). The enlightened district collector had converted a lot of government records into electronic formats. With such conversion, it had become possible to deliver a variety of government services using the Internet. As happens often in developing nations such as India, the newly available systems were too complex for most of the rural users. In this district, a few ‘agents’ (essentially go-between shopkeepers) helping the users negotiate the complex field of e-Government services, had sprung up. For a small and reasonable fee, these ‘e-Touts’ helped the villagers fill out web-enabled forms, send e-mail, and receive and print confirmatory documents. The professor’s colleague visited the storefront of one of these ‘e-Touts’. Along with sale of typical sundries and provisions, and operating the long distance pay phone booths, now the store owner had become an ‘e-Tout’ and offered e-Government services!

Delhi government PC ownership scheme In an attempt to bridge the digital gap and increase computer penetration in the national capital region of New Delhi, especially among the working class, the Delhi government has decided to launch a Personal Computer (PC) ownership scheme for its employees. Although the final shape is being given to the initiative, under the scheme a permanent employee of the Delhi government would be able to take a loan from the bank on concessional rates for buying a computer for use at home. The government would stand guarantor for the loan and would ensure repayment | March – April 2005

through equal monthly instalments paid from his salary. This would not only help in making PC penetration a reality but would also provide easy access to computers to the members of the family of the employee.

Bengali language interface pack Microsoft Corporation India Private Ltd has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the West Bengal government for roll-out of a Bengali language interface pack for Microsoft Windows and Office in State Government offices and establishments. The project is christened ‘Project Bhasha’ and Microsoft will collaborate with the state government for development of customised local language applications and systems integration; building of a pool of dedicated manpower to help implementation of local language computing, and computerisation of various government departments.

AP ‘Knowledge Corridor’ The Government of Andhra Pradesh has decided to create a ‘Knowledge Corridor’ that would be spread across 20000 acres in 34 revenue villages. The ‘Knowledge Corridor’ would encompass industries and services in the areas of information technology, biotechnology and financial services. The corridor would spread from Khanamet village near Hyderabad to Kollur village. While speaking at a meeting organised by the Hyderabad Software Exporters Association, Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy said that the unique ‘Knowledge Corridor’ aimed at strengthening and consolidating on the advantages of the technology sector in the State. “While the Government will continue to focus on sectors such as agriculture and irrigation, we will continue to provide the much necessary support and infrastructure for

technology sector as well”, he said. The ‘Knowledge Corridor’ will be complemented by an eight-lane 160-kilometre ring road with 12 satellite towns dotting the network.

PPPs to enhance e-Governance While inaugurating the third e-Governance Summit in New Delhi, Suresh Pachauri, Minister of State (Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension), stressed that public private partnerships (PPPs) are a key factor in taking forward the spirit of e-Governance. He also reiterated that the ruling UPA government was fully committed towards enhancing PPP environment when it comes to e-Governance initiatives.

Handicraft workers can avail electronic identity cards The Union Textile Ministry of India has introduced electronic identity cards for artisans across the country to ensure their equal participation and transparency in its various schemes. The Union Textiles Minister, Shankarsinh Vahgela, has defined this initiative as a major step towards e-Governance and hopes that it would eradicate all devious elements operating in the sector since, according to him, true artisans have not been able to get the benefits of the various schemes because of middlemen or unfair practices adopted by officials.

Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly goes online The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, J. Jayalalithaa, has launched the official website www.assembly.tn.gov.in of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly. 35


Q&A with Priyantha Kariyapperuma Consultant to the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka

The history of the state legislature, list of members of the current assembly, details of the various house committees can be found on the website.

Indian railways introduces new ‘claims’ website

The Indian Railways have announced opening of the new website www.claims. indianrail.gov.in, wherein one can file claims for losses, destruction, damage, deterioration or non-delivery of goods/ parcels from one’s own desk. This facility will be in addition to the already existing facility of approaching the claims office for filing of claims. The new website would provide online information about the status of claims, and the relevant forms and policy instructions on settlement of claims can be downloaded from the site itself. It is expected to reduce duplication of claims, and also contains contact numbers and address of the Claims Offices at all Zones and Divisions.

Website to lodge complaints The Chief Minister of New Delhi, Sheila Dikshit has launched the website of the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) [http://www.dcw.delhigovt.nic.in] 36

The government of Sri Lanka claims the e- Sri Lanka initiative to be world’s first integrated e-Development project and aspires to make the project a model for other aspiring countries. Sri Lanka’s national development initiative titled ‘e-Sri Lanka’ has plotted it prominently on the e-Governance map of the South. Supported by the World Bank, the objectives of the Sri Lanka government are to harness the potential of ICTs to foster social integration, peace, growth, and poverty reduction. The government is actively looking at deploying ICTs to improve the reach and responsiveness of public services, reduce transaction costs to business, make itself more transparent and accountable, and address the urgent need of poor and isolated communities and regions. How and when was the e-Sri Lanka initiative started? In order to accelerate the pace of achieving MDGs by using mainstream ICTs, the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Srilanka (ICTA) was set up by an act of the parliament ( ICT ACT 27 of 2003) as an apex government body for setting up the ICT policy and direction for the nation. The agency was formally established in July 2003 under the Ministry of Science and Technology and now comes under the leadership of the Prime Minister with the participation of industry experts, international agencies, and the civil society organisations. What is the mandate per se of the initiative? The ICT agency has planned a sixpronged strategy that encompasses: • ‘ICT Leadership and Policy-making Programme’ • ‘Information Infrastructure Programme’ • ‘Re-engineering Government Programme’

• • •

‘ICT Capacity Building Programme’ ‘ICT Investment and Pvt Sector Development Programme’ ‘e-Society Programme’

What about the investment and expertise for the undertaking? The estimated cost to implement the e-Sri Lanka development project is USD 83 million. The project was formally approved on 21 September 2004. The World Bank is primarily supporting the project with additional commitment from other funding agencies like EDCF of South Korea, JSDF of Japan and GoSL. In terms of expertise we are already working with agencies like NIC from India, civil society organisations, and Industry experts. What are the achievements of the e-Sri Lanka initiative till date? We have been able to accomplish the following tasks till date: • CIO (Chief Information Officer) forum established. This covers all government departments / ministries and statutory bodies, district and divisional secretariats, and Provincial Counsels. • Working relationship with ARC for public officers to obtain ICT proficiency at least to the ICDL level approved by ARC. Conducted workshops with ARC for divisional secretaries. Identified processes that could be reengineered at the divisional secretariat level with minimum funding and high impact. Launched ARC website. • Obtained funding from Oracle Corporation and Cisco for ‘Center of Excellence in e-Government’. • NCS Singapore undertaking e-Government study to provide master architecture and key initial e-Government services for reengineering. Completed local e-Gov study by AC Nielson to identify existing IT www.egov.csdms.org |


• •

• •

infrastructure and services at 85 government departments and ministries. Government web portal launched. Launched the government printer website online. All gazettes, acts, bills and some government forms are currently available online. Pilots for e-President, e-Cabinet and e-Parliament initiated. Launched legal draftsman website. MoU signed for eHRM and eForeign employment e-Services projects.

How do you address the need for content in local language (and of local relevance) in Sri Lanka? The inability to use languages one is familiar with has resulted in a gap between how people use computers and what computers can actually do. Recognising this problem, the ICTA has established a language requirement working group to address these issues. How do you plan to raise awareness regarding ICTs and government programmes among rural citizens? As mentioned earlier, the government has initiated a unique programme of community information centers called Vishva Gnana Kendras (meaning Global Knowledge Centres), which are multi-service community information centres. These centres provide rural citizens in remote village communities with the opportunities to easily access key information services and e-Government services through the Internet and telephone. The VGKs are located in temples and churches in remote areas with the priests being the in-charges of the centres.

| March – April 2005

This is a very unique concept. Any reasons for locating these centres in Temples and Churches? In remote areas in Sri Lanka, most people visit these places on a regular basis. The government has provided hardware, software and other equipment besides Internet connectivity. In addition to government content, electronic copies of religious texts are also available at the centres. Locating the centres at these places ensures cultural discipline by default as these are places of respect. We have 10 such centres at the moment and, inspired by the success of such centres, we are planning to have 1000 such centers by the year-end. You talked about development of local language software. What about development of content of local relevance? ICTA has formed specific teams that visit various parts and access the need for local content. Students and NGOs have been incorporated as part of the teams that visit various parts of the country with a well-designed questionnaire to report back on the needs for local content. ICTA will act on the feedback to make local content available. How do you plan to ensure the take up of services? This can be achieved with media support, road shows and planned PR campaigns. Though I admit that not much attention has been paid to this aspect as yet. Any initiatives requires political committment to succeed. What are your plans on capacity building in the political community? I appreciate the fact that there is a need to make the political community aware of the role of ICT in building political capital. The leaders need to be motivated to learn the language of the new millennium i.e. ICT. I am planning to request my Prime Minister and the political representatives to find time out from their schedules during International engagements to visit ICT and e-Government events of importance. Any suggestions to build capacity at the political level keeping in view the tight working schedules of the political representatives would be welcome.

The website was launched on the occasion of a function hosted as a part of the International Women’s Day celebrations. With this the DCW has taken the initiative to help women in distress to lodge their complaints without travelling to the office of the DCW.

ICT policy to provide 300 000 jobs in India The Andhra Pradesh ICT policy for 20052010 seeks to create infrastructure that would enable creation of about 300 000 jobs in the technology sector directly by 2010. It is estimated that about 80000 people are employed directly in the ICT sector in the state. As per the ICT policy statement tabled in the Legislative Assembly and approved by the State Cabinet recently, the Andhra Pradesh government has planned a series of initiatives that would support the realisation of this major initiative of additional job creation, that seeks to capture about INR 690 billion in software exports by 2010.

Sri Lanka

Prime Minister’s website launched in Sri Lanka The Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, has made the services of his office even more accessible by going online. The official website of the Prime Minister is accessible at www.primeminister.gov.lk 37


Jordan

The site will ensure easy access to services offered by the Prime Ministers Office to anyone in any part of the world, and steps have been taken to ensure that the site is kept up-to-date with latest information and press releases issued from the PMO.

Bangladesh

Grameen software receives e-Governance project award

In Bangladesh, Grameen Software has been awarded a software development, systems integration and maintenance contract worth Tk 11.5 million, the largest e-Governance project thus far under the ‘Support for Information and Communication Technology Task Force’ (SICT) programme. The SICT programme (a Wing of the Ministry of Planning) aims to ensure access to information by every citizen to facilitate empowerment of people. The programme has also enhanced democratic values and norms for sustainable economic development by using the infrastructure for human resources development, e-Governance, public utility services and all sorts of online ICT-enabled services.

38

UNDP, Italian government to prop up Jordan The government of Jordan has signed an agreement with Italy and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to implement and develop eAccounting and e-Procurement applications for the use of several ministries. Under the agreement, the Italian government will provide USD 575,000 million to fund the outlining of the two project strategies. Funding would also cover different activities to be undertaken for an in-depth analysis (and requirement study) for full implementation of e-Procurement, and to support the country’s public administrative reform process to set up a modern unified e-Accounting system. The UNDP commented that Jordan had recognised ICT as crucial for the social and economic development of the country. Jordan’s Finance Minister, Mohammad Abu Hammour, the Italian Minister for Innovation and Technology, Lucio Stanca, and UNDP Resident Representative, Christine Mcnab, signed the agreement.

KENYA

ICT facilities to boost Kenyan parliament

Kenya is among eight African countries to benefit from a USD 3.5 million project aimed at installing ICT facilities in Parliaments. The Nairobi-based project will see the eight African countries acquire new ICT facilities. The Italian government, through the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, will fund the two-year project. The project’s Chief Technical Advisor, Flavio Zeni has said that it will empower legislators to fulfil their democratic functions by providing them easy access to high quality information.

Zambia

Mines ministry goes online in Zambia

The Ministry of Mines will implement a computerised system for the management of mine licensing information in 2005. Bill Feast, the Technical Director of Spatial Dimension, a mineral services company based in South Africa, has said that a computerised workflow approach system would lead to easy availability of all relevant mining information. He maintained that there was a need for the Ministry of Mines to have a reliable database and know the history of all mining applications, and that this system would be the solution to all these issues. The system works on the Windows network with passwords that define user groups with appropriate rules and responsibilities.

www.egov.csdms.org |


Australia

Philippines

NICTA to develop Australia’s ICT market

ICT services to people

A new National ICT Australia (NICTA) facility has been officially opened in Queensland which will be focused on researching and developing solutions to protect Australia’s online environment. NICTA has been set up by the Federal government to attract, develop, and network talent for Australia’s future prosperity in the ICT market. Its research efforts focus on the technology challenges facing industry, community, and the national interest. At the official opening of the new facility in Brisbane, NICTA also announced that it has signed contribution agreements with the University of Queensland, Griffith University, and Queensland University of Technology, with each university to provide support to NICTA to the value of AUSD 2 million over the next four years.

Women in ICT summit The Federal government of Australia has announced the members of an advisory group, which will help plan a ‘Women in ICT’ summit to be held later this year. The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan, stated that they needed more women interested in ICT, studying ICT and working in ICT. The government made a commitment in the last elections to organise a summit involving leaders in the ICT industry and education sector to identify and address the impediments that may be keeping women out of the ICT sector. | March – April 2005

In Philippines, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has inaugurated the Multimedia Telecare Centre of Lapu-Lapu City which is one of the 5000 e-Governance terminals that interconnect national and global agencies. The President remarked that this is important because it would help people to fight against poverty and terrorism. The City Mayor added that the Centre would provide the general public with affordable access to a variety of ICT services such as Internet, e-mail, fax, future voice over IP, distance learning and other online community-based services.

Oman

‘Digital Oman’

from Oman and around the world and give readers an inside look at the Sultanate’s ICT landscape and the people driving its development. The quarterly, bilingual publication is intended to connect Oman’s technopreneurs, and ICT and government leaders.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s election website The people of Saudi Arabia are becoming high-tech with a website www.saudielection.com dedicated to the municipal elections. Women who worried about being left out of the real elections can now practice their balloting skills in an ‘e-Poll.’ Turki Faisal Al-Rasheed, the website’s founder, has said that the website will feature a question and answer session with election officials. The candidates in the municipal elections will also be available to answer questions or clarify on election matters, he added. Further, men, women and young people will be able to participate in a virtual poll along similar lines to one organised during the Riyadh elections.

Malaysia The Oman Establishment for Press, News, Publication and Advertising (OEPNPA) in partnership with Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM) and the Information Technology Technical Secretariat (ITTS) at the Ministry of National Economy will launch the largest and ‘most exciting’ ICT magazine christened Digital Oman to hit Oman’s ICT community. Mohammed Al Ghassani, Director, KOM, has remarked that Digital Oman would be 48 pages of high-performance material; covering only the best the ICT industry has to offer. With over a dozen domestic contributors, authoritative features will provide up-to-date stories and opinions

ICT to bridge the digital divide The Malaysian government has declared that more than 12 million Malaysians should be having access to computers by 2015. This is the government’s long-term target to bring ICT to the common folk. Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has said that presently, only 5.5 million people had access to computers. He added that the government and Multimedia Super Corridor-status companies were also working together to 39


narrow the ‘digital divide’ among people. The Multimedia Development Corporation and the Education Ministry were also working towards providing ICT facilities to marginalised communities. By 2008, the government is hoping to provide 2.8 million people in rural areas with training and access to ICT through the Pusat Internet Desa (or Rural Internet Centre) programme.

EU

this challenge in mind that the Department of Information Technology, under the Ministry of Information and Communication, proposes to undertake a research project that would test the viability of appropriate ICT solutions that could lead to sustainable communication in the rural areas of Bhutan.

Europe overtake even the US, according to the 2005 edition of the European Information Technology Observatory (EITO) presented in Brussels. EITO Chair, Bruno Lamborghini has said that ICT markets have definitely emerged from the tunnel of the deep crisis of 2001-2003.

ICT market to reach growth of 4 percent Bhutan in 2005 The European Union (EU) ICT market is Rural Bhutan to expected to reach growth rates of 4 percent in 2005, up from 3.3 per cent in access ICT 2004, and 0.9 per cent in 2003. The growth is significant enough to see

Wireless Fidelity (WiFi) is one of the most promising technologies that could potentially offer an alternative to the normally expensive, high maintenance and difficult to manage ‘last mile’ connectivity problem. As a result, this project will pilot and demonstrate the viability and robustness of WiFi for offering various information services that are needed for ensuring social and economic development in rural areas of Bhutan.

The Royal Government of Bhutan has recognised the role that ICTs can play in achieving its development goals. It is with

Editorial Guidelines egov contains articles and features on e-Governance and related issues. Authors are requested to follow these guidelines while sending their articles to egov.

Research Articles/Features: Manuscripts reporting significant original research should be between 2500-3000 words. It must contain an abstract of the article of maximum 500 words.

Book/website reviews: The word limit for reviews of book/ website is 1500. Mention the title, name of the author(s), name of the publisher, year of publication, price and number of pages and also send

40

the cover photograph of the book concerned in hard copy or in TIFF format with resolution at least 300 dpi. Books on e-Governance related themes, published from year 2002 onwards, are preferable. In case of website, provide the URL.

Reports or Notes on conference/workshop/ seminar(s): Reports or notes on conferences, workshops and seminars on eGovernance or related fields must be 1500-2000 words in length. Mention the theme, venue, date, and name of the organiser(s). Please supply relevant photographs. The conference held in the past two months of the

forthcoming issue are preferred. Provide the URL of the organiser’s website or a link to the papers. The Editor reserves the right to reject, edit and adjust articles in order to conform to the magazine's format. No remuneration is paid or charges levied for contributions. All Correspondence should be addressed to The Editor egov G-4, Sector 39 NOIDA (UP) 201 301, India Tel +91 120 2502180-87 Fax +91 120 2500060 Email info@egovonline.net www.egov.csdms.org |


FACTS AND DATA

2004 UN Global E-Government Survey National Web Server Hosting Technology

Countries offering online transactions

Operating System # of Countries Linux/FreeBSD/Open Source 84 Windows (98/NT/2000/2003) 64 Solaris 23 Other/Unix/Mac/Not Available 7 Total Countries 178

% of Total 47% 36% 13% 4% 100%

Web Server

# of Countries

% of Total

91 58 8 4 17 178

51% 33% 4% 2% 10% 100%

Apache Microsoft IIS Netscape Lotus-Domino Other/Not Available Total Countries

Note: Web server technology assessment was conducted on August 3, 2004. 13 Countries do not have websites. [Compiled from United Nations Global e-Government Readiness Report 2004]

Public sector IT priorities of government agencies in Asia Pacific and the Middle East (demand-side judgements of government administrators in the region). Australia – 54 (15%) India – 42 (11%) New Zealand – 37 (10%) Hong Kong – 32 (9%) Singapore – 24 (7%) South Korea – 21 (6%) Japan – 19 (5%) UAE – 19 (5%) China – 18 (5%) The Philippines – 18 (5%) Thailand – 16 (4%) Malaysia – 15 (4%) Brunei Darussalam – 8 (2%) Pakistan – 7 (2%) Qatar – 6 (1.5%) Taiwan – 5 (1.5%) Uzbekistan – 3 (1%) Turkey – 2 (1%) Indonesia – 2 (1%) Macau – 1 (0.5%)

Country

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38

United States United Kingdom Singapore Republic of Korea Chile Canada Denmark Israel Australia Belgium Brazil Finland New Zealand Argentina Germany Ireland Mexico Netherlands Sweden Austria Estonia Japan Malta Mauritius Norway Philippines United Arab Emirates Uruguay Barbados France India Malaysia Romania Greece Guatemala Italy Panama Sri Lanka 21% of total countries

PSTM Priorities survey (December 2004) (+2) (-1) (-1) (+3) (+1) (-2) (+1) (-3)

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Information security Improving employee productivity Improving IT management Outsourcing Open Source Improving service delivery Privacy Financial management & reporting

| March – April 2005

(+7) 9. HR Management (+4) 10. Data management (-3) 11. Inter-departmental collaboration (—) 12. Improving IT procurement (-3) 13. Disaster recovery/business continuity (+4) 14. Compliance (+2) 15. Homeland security (-5) 16. Portals, intranets, extranets

(-5) 17. Reducing operational costs (—) 18. Management reporting (-1) 19. Decision support capabilities (-5) 20. Storage provision [Public Sector Technology & Management’s (PSTM) survey of public sector administrators drawn from Asia Pacific & Middle East. Sample size of 500, yielded 369 results]. 41


ABOUT TOWN

This section lists upcoming conferences, exhibitions, and other public events for the benefit of our readers 16March, 2005 The Future of Outsourcing and Public/ Private Partnerships for E-Government London, UK http://www.electronic-government.com/ outsourcing/ 16-18 March 2005 E-Transformation: Opportunities in Government, Public Institutions and Finance New Delhi http://www.worldbank.org.in/WBSITE/ EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/SOUTHASIAEXT/ INDIAEXTN/0,contentMDK: 20374974 ~menuPK:295589~page PK: 41137~piPK :141127~theSitePK:295584,00.html 20-22 March 2005 hrGov 2005 USA http://www.convurge.com/hrgov2005/ 21April, 2005 E-GOV KM Conference Washington DC http://www.e-gov.com/events/2005/km/ 2-3 May 2005 Government Customer Support Conference 2005 Marriott Hotel in Bethesda Daryl.L.Covey@noaa.gov 15-18 May 2005 National Conference on Digital Government Research USA dgrc.org/dgo2005 21- 25 May, 2005 11th GCC e-Government Forum Dubai, UAE http://www.datamatixgroup.com/ index2.asp?page=agenda/agenda_ egov5.htm 1-2June, 2005 Web-Enabled Government Washington, D.C. http://www.fcw.com/media/2005/ egov.asp 42

04-08 June 2005 Mountain Communities Conference 2005 Canada http://www.banffcentre.ca 9-10 June 2005 e-Gov Forum & Expo Ottawa, Canada National Trade Center, conference@wowgao.com 16-17 June 2005 5th European Conference on e-Government ECEG2005 Belgium www.academic-conferences.org 10-12 July 2005 EURO mGOV 2005: Mobile Government Conference United Kingdom www.icmg.mgovernment.org/ 14 July 2005 2nd National E-Gov Conference 2005 Birmingham bookings@e-gov.info 22-26 August 2005 EGOV05 International Conference on E-Government Denmark confadmin@faw.uni-linz.ac.at 26-28 October 2005 IFIP International Conference on eBusiness, eCommerce and eGovernment (I3E’2005), Poznan, Poland http://www.multiagent.com/dailist/ msg00056.html 27-28 October 2005 The International Conference on E-Government (ICEG 2005) Lord Elgin Hotel, Ottawa, Canada http://www.academic-conferences.org/ iceg2005/iceg2005-home.htm

17-19 November 2005 4th WSEAS International Conference on E-ACTIVITIES Miami, Florida, USA http://www.worldses.org/conferences/ 2005/florida/e-activities/topics.htm 24-25 November 2005 Ministerial eGovernment Conference Manchester, UK http://europa.eu.int/information_society/ activities/egovernment_research/ minconf2005/index_en.htm

e-Government resources Websites 1. Development Gateway e-Government Portal http://www.development gateway.org/ node/130619/ 2. e-Government Cases from the World Bank http://www1.worldbank.org/publicsector/ egov/index.htm 3. UN Public Administration Network http://www.unpan.org/egovernment. asp 4. Ministry of Information Technology, Government of India http://www.mit.gov.in 5. European Institute of Public Administration http://www.eipa.nl 6. The European commission’s delegation to India, Bhutan, Maldives and Nepal http://www.delind.cec.eu.int/en/index. htm 7. National Institute of Smart Governance http://www.nisg.org

News Groups/ Blogs 1. Network of e-Government stakeholders http://www.groups.yahoo.com/group/ egovernance 2. World Bank Thematic Group on e-development http://www.worldbank.org/edevelopment

Case Studies, Knowledge Management Tools 1. e-Europe Practices Project http://www.beepknowledgesystem.org 2. e-Government for Development Project http://www.egov4dev.org 3. Successful case studies of Department of Admin Reforms and Public Grievances, Government of India http://www.darpg.nic.in/successstudy.asp

www.egov.csdms.org |


Citizens first: March-April 2005 Issue  

[ www.egovonline.net ] egov magazine is the Asia’s first and only print-cum-online magazine on e-Governance, focusing on the use of ICTs in...

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