Open source software policy in e-governance cleared by communications ministry

RS Sharma asks for development of common software solutions by all departments to avoid confusion

Pratap Vikram Singh | March 25, 2015


#ravi shankar prasad   #rs sharma   #e-governance   #software   #aadhaar  

Union minister of communications and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad has said that his ministry has approved open source software policy.

The minister said that from now use of open source software will be a precondition in e-governance related tenders. “The cost of (e-governance) project and its maintenance can be cut down with the use of open source system,” Prasad said, while speaking at an e-governance award ceremony, titled ‘web ratna awards 2014’, organised by national informatics centre (NIC), department of electronics and IT, DeitY.

He said that Digital India programme will benefit the poor and the under privileged. He urged central and state governments officials present at the ceremony to update websites on a regular basis.
 
RS Shama, secretary, DeitY, while delivering his address, said that given the fast pace of change in IT, the departments at central and state level should adopt new design principles in e-governance.
 
He laid emphasis on developing common applications software, allowing multi-tenancy, and use by several states.
“Even as we have a federal structure, the administrative system has evolved in a similar manner in all states. The registration of motor vehicles, issuance of driving licenses and related permits are all governed by a central law,” he said. Similarly, in the judicial system, the IPC and the CRPC have common processes across the country.

He spoke of past experience when same software was developed differently in 35 states and UTs and said “today we have the opportunity to develop common application software and offer it as a platform, enabling states to come on these platforms.”

This way the government can save a lot and bring efficiency in project execution, Sharma said.
Advocating open standard and open application programming interface he said at present software is being developed differently while all systems of governance are interconnected.

 “Therefore, applications have to talk to each other and that will happen only when software development follows certain minimum standards,” Sharma said. “We must enable communication, integration between applications through open APIs,” he added.

Another important design principle of the government departments should be cloud computing. Whenever a project is rolled out the departments procure hardware. “The cost related to procurement, operations, maintenance is more than services that you deliver. We should enable software to leverage these technologies on cloud, without having to go for procurement,” Sharma said.

Use of country-wide platforms is another major principle which needs to be adopted by line departments. Aadhaar can be used by the banks to avoid investment in one more authentication system, Sharma said.
 
He said common payment gateway is such an example. This can be customised and used with any application. SMS gateway is another example.

“Departments must use these platforms rather than designing their own software, and contracting the work to third party. The software development effort really becomes minor,” he said.

E-sign, based on Aadhaar authentication, is another useful application which could be used by all departments. Whenever applicants have to file for scholarship or passport they have to sign the document manually and the submit hard copy. e-sign facility  allows applicant to digitally sign document. In this way entire paper work is eliminated.

The digital locker facility allows applicants to share documents digitally and these documents are digitally signed, reducing paperwork drastically, he said.
 

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