DeitY asks states to submit utilisation certificates
The department of electronics and information technology (DeitY) has urged the states to proactively perform accounting and expenditure reviews of the funds provided by the central government under the national e-governance plan (NeGP) and submit their utilisation certificates to the department. “Due to this reason DeitY is presently grappling with the unexplained expenditures to the tune of Rs 700 to Rs 900 crore by the states,” said Rita Teaotia, additional secretary, DeitY. She was addressing a consultative workshop on “Citizen Centric e-Government” organised by DeitY in association with NASSCOM, in Raipur on Thursday.
Teaotia said that the even though the funds are lying with the national e-governance division (NeGD), a body constituted within DeitY, the states are not coming ahead to claim funds for project implementation.
She also urged states to prepare annual and quarterly action plan in reference to the implementation of various mission mode projects (MMPs) under the NeGP, including four core projects – state wide area network (SWAN), state data centre (SDC), state service delivery gateway (SSDG) and common services centres (CSCs).
Commenting on the status of NeGP, Teaotia said that its implementation across the nation is not even. She said that while SWAN is operational in 30 states/UTs, SDC is up and running in 17. More than 88,000 CSCs have been operationalised across all states and UTs and SSDG has been implemented in seven states while 16 other states will complete the work by end of this year.
However, Manipur and Uttar Pradesh are the only two states where all four components have been put in place. The system doesn’t work as a whole if one or the other component doesn’t exist. She said that though the MMPs in the centre category have been mostly implemented, the progress of the state MMPs is quite slow, despite the availability of resources and technology.
In 2013, Teaotia said, the department would focus on services. “The implementation of infrastructural projects is not rocket science. Once we bring in services, we will focus on transactions and the number of citizens we have been able to reach. We will also check if the access has been geographically even.”
While delivering the keynote address, Sunil Kumar, chief secretary, government of Chhattisgarh, said that mere application of ICT in the government may not make it SMART (simple, moral, accountable, responsive and transparent). “The fact is that the system can only be as good as you are. Technology can be as efficient as it is leveraged. It can’t make a lethargic machinery work. It can’t make people, who lack integrity, virtuous. The system has to be deeply rooted in basics of governance”, he said.
Noting that the technology can also be daunting at times, Kumar said, “Citizens from smaller and backward districts are daunted by entering government offices and dealing with government servants since they have to move from table to table.”
“With the help of e-governance, what we have done is that citizens don’t have to go from table to table. However, the combination of administration and computer is formidable unless e-governance is demystified,” he added.
Elaborating on the need for leveraging the social media for citizens’ feedback, he said, “The interface between government and citizens can be categorized in three ways – government to citizen (G2C), citizen to government (C2G) and citizen to citizen (C2C). Though we have focused on the first two, we have left out the communication among citizens. This would require integrating with social networking sites, which would enable access to citizens’ feedback. This would depend very much on the ability of the government to tap in the power of these tools and use it to ameliorate the G2C and C2G interfaces.”
Aman Kumar Singh, secretary, department of IT, government of Chhattisgarh, said that when the state implemented CHOiCE (Chhattisgarh Online Information for Citizen Empowerment) project, the biggest challenge it faced in dispensing services was making available a government official at the centre to sign a document – like in case of eSeva centres. But in 2003, Chhattisgarh was the first state in the country to notify e-governance rules – under which a private citizen could issue certificates. The system was built on open source software and it was a web-based application.
“As a matter of policy, we decided to not procure hardware or software, but procure solutions only. The role of CHiPS (Chhattisgarh Infotech and Biotech Promotion Society), the state society implementing most of e-governance projects, was limited to enterprise-level management. We gave the operational freedom to the line departments. We ensured that any project valuing more than one crore is srcutinised by an empowered committee,” Singh said.
Speaking on e-procurement, he said, “So far, tendering of projects worth more than Rs 35,000 crore has happened through the e-procurement system.”
Elaborating on the details of SWAN, A M Parial, CEO, CHiPS, government of Chhattisgarh, said the while DeitY is providing Rs 51.25 crore and Rs 41.63 crore is coming from the State, an additional centre’s assistance of Rs 40.02 crore is being provided by DeitY for bandwidth.
Distinguishing Chhattisgarh SWAN with other state SWANs, he said, CSWAN has hybrid backbone connecting all districts and eventually blocks using lease lines, VSAT, Wi-Max and VPNoBB. He said the state has deployed largest Wi-max 802.16d connecting 3000 government offices in the state which is highest in the country, providing a scalable extensible network. He said the SDC would be implemented by the year end.
During the daylong workshop, the Chhattisgarh government showcased e-Government solutions implemented under the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP). This consultative meet is part of the 50 workshops being organised in all States and Union Territories (UTs) to amplify the mission and message of the NeGP – "Public Services Closer Home".
With many states in various stages of rolling out public services on the e-Government platform, the NeGP Apex Committee decided to create awareness about NeGP initiatives among stakeholders, discuss challenges in delivery of e-Services, identify state-specific issues and understand emerging technologies from industry.
The string of workshops will cover all state capitals, UTs and some important cities. The first workshop was hosted in National Capital Territory of Delhi in July 2011 and the workshop in Raipur is 18th in the series.
The Raipur workshop was attended by key stakeholders of the NeGP, drawn from Central and State Governments, e-Governance consultants, technology partners and implementing agencies.
NeGP, a key component of the Government's "inclusive growth" strategy, was approved by the Cabinet in May 2006. It aims to deliver public services to the common man in his locality to make them both accessible and affordable.