Capacity training programme gets a boost

Government will spend '450 crore on training of over 20,000 officials in next two years

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Pratap Vikram Singh | March 16, 2015




E-governance is “easy governance”, “effective governance” and also “economic governance”, as defined by prime minister Narendra Modi. E-governance also paves way for good governance. Keeping this in mind, the country has implemented a slew of e-governance initiatives. However, lack of personnel with appropriate skills is one of the key challenges faced while implementing e-governance projects. The Digital India vision has also heightened the need for adequate and relevant capacities at all levels.

The prime minister’s committee on the national e-governance plan (NeGP), in its November 23, 2011 meeting, observed that lack of qualified human resources, in sufficient numbers, is the biggest constraint in the adoption of e-governance initiatives.

Also, capacity building was an important area emphasised by the committee on human resource for e-governance, headed by Nandan Nilekani. In its report (2013), the committee suggested that the government should take up various policy interventions that are required “to build internal competencies and growing the internal resource pool in the government with institutionalised training and capacity building mechanisms.”

In a bid to resolve this issue of lack of technical know-how in central and state governments, the department of electronics and information technology (DeitY) is revising its e-governance capacity building programme to make it more need-based. The department  is the nodal body for the execution of Digital India programme.

The new framework

The initial capacity building programme was generic in nature and not contextual. Now, training would be imparted according to specific roles and responsibilities assigned to a government official involved in IT projects. It is primarily based on an e-governance competency framework (eGCF) introduced by the department in December.

The framework will help government officials to identify skills and behaviours required for performing their task. This will help the government find the right person with the right skill and experience for the right role, as per the DeitY framework document.

The government has approved slightly over '450 core for the programme which will be implemented by 2017, by the end of 12th plan period, said Anoop Kumar Agrawal, president and CEO, national e-governance division (NeGD), DeitY. The department has set a target of training 20,000 officials on technology and management skills required for e-governance rollout.

The framework has defined 19 roles, which are further divided into eight managerial/administrative roles and 11 technical roles. These roles are those required in an e-governance project. The framework takes into account competencies related to professional skill set, knowledge, behaviour and training and certification. 

The department will soon set up an online system based on this framework. This will help assess an official’s job requirements and suggesting a training roadmap. The officials, once hooked to the online system, will be told in advance to do their homework on having clear understanding of basics of technology and project management.

Learning lessons
The first phase of the capacity building programme was approved in 2008. After several extensions, it ended in January 2015 with limited success. The first phase had two major components. First, was the recruitment of IT and management professionals from the market and their deputation to different states. A group of professionals working at the state level were referred for the state e-mission team (SeMT). The SeMTs provide support to IT and other department in execution of e-governance. 

Second, was the CIO training programme for senior (joint secretary level and above), mid (director level) and junior (section officer, deputy secretary rank) officials for two, four and six weeks respectively. Even as the programme started in 2008, the first training was conducted only in November 2010. Officials from all states and UTs were given standard training, irrespective of need and competencies required for implementing e-governance projects. The training module was designed for technical expertise required for the implementation of NeGP. It didn’t cater to expertise required for projects not covered under NeGP. This included communications and cyber security projects. Also, after completion of training, officials didn’t have a platform where they could find answer to their queries. The delay in implementation and the ‘one size fits all’ policy were seen as the major setbacks.

According to DeitY’s internal assessment, the success level – whether trained officials are actually handling e-governance projects in their departments – decreases as one goes down the bureaucratic hierarchy. Almost 60 percent of joint secretary-level trained officials were working on e-governance projects. The percentage comes down to 50 percent in case of mid-level or director level officials and it further goes down to 30 percent in case of junior officials.

The initial phase of the programme was meant only for state government officials and didn’t include central line ministries and departments. Around '313 crore was spent on this programme over a period of eight years without much results.

The capacities present to handle e-governance project in the government were not skilled enough, Agrawal said. “We have given training to a number of people in a variety of modules. This has created some amount of awareness. Our approach in the second phase is to identify the kind of skills required for different roles. This is where eGCF comes into picture,” he noted. 

The second phase
The second phase of training relies heavily on technology. The online learning management and knowledge management systems will help officials to connect with experts at DeitY in case of any query or complication related to communications and IT projects.

On learning management system (LMS), Agrawal said, “We are e-enabling this to make officials understand it in the layman’s language. If they encounter a new problem they can come back to the platform. The platform will have communities and forums where people can discuss their problems and get solutions.”

“Through LMS DeitY wants to keep a tab on the database of employees who received training. The data will be then fed into the system which will analyse it with the help of assessment tools. After analysis, a training path for the official will be given,” said Vashima Shubha, senior consultant, NeGD. 
Before joining NeGD, Shubha was working with Wipro as a change management professional. She said most of the corporates, like Wipro, have a sound knowledge management system for employee reference and learning. “If I was working on a project I could see if there is already a similar project which has been implemented and documented. If I was writing an RFP [request for proposal] then I could see a model RFP. In e-governance space, there is a similar requirement.”

The DeitY has also issued advisories to states to set up a virtual cadre for IT. “Under virtual cadre, you identify people working in e-governance and give them training and make them available to all other departments,” explained Agrawal. Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Kerala have developed virtual cadres. The eGCF will also come handy for formulating new recruitment rules.

The success of any e-governance initiative largely depends on the kind of people selected for disseminating the benefits. Therefore, capacity building is the need of the hour. As the famous adage goes, ‘Give a man a fish: you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish: you have fed him for a lifetime.’

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