What ails PPP in eGovernance?

Bureaucracy makes it difficult for the scheme to take off in a meaningful way

GN Bureau | February 10, 2010


Governance Now Roundtable on e-Governance
Governance Now Roundtable on e-Governance

Four years ago, in 2006, the central government launched the National eGovernance Plan (NeGP) to use IT in the delivery of government services. Until then there were pockets of eGovernance initiatives in the country.

Aimed at taking government services to the doorstep of every citizen, the $6 billion NeGP was to be executed in partnership with the private players who had the knowhow and technology in the field. Called public-private-partnership (PPP), the model became the buzzword in the industry, and for a while, it seemed this was the only way to carry forward such projects.

Four years down the line, the jury is still out on whether the PPP model has taken off, let alone, has become successful.  While some projects like MCA 21 have proved to be a runaway success, the record on Common Service Centre (CSC) has been dismal.

So what ails PPP model?
Governance Now brought together different stakeholders on one platform to deliberate on the issue. In a roundtable held at Governance Now office, the participants discussed the theme “PPP in eGovernance: How to make it work.”

The participants included Tanmoy Chakrabarty, vice president and head of Govt Industry Solutions Unit of TCS, Sudhir Aggarwal, senior vice president and head of Government Initiative of Sify, Sumanta Pal, senior vice president, Strategic Marketing of SREI Sahaj, Satish Jha, president & CEO, OLPC India, Dinesh Tyagi, CEO of IL&FS, and Sandip Sehgal, director, Government Vertical of Red Hat.

Discussing the sub-theme ‘Converting PPPs in eGovernance from proposal to practice,’ the participants were mostly critical of the government.

Tanmoy Chakrabarty of TCS said the government did not want to let go of the power it wields, and that unwillingness comes in the way of the successful implementation of PPP. He however agreed that the younger lots in the bureaucracy are becoming the agents of change and this is reflected in the success of states doing well in eGovernance.  

Sudhir Aggarwal of Sify said the PPP in eGovernance was the only way forward and a proper evaluation and stock taking of running projects should be done to fill the gaps in the projects taken up in future.

Sumanta Pal of Sahaj said the PPPs looked wonderful on paper but were not sustainable as a business model. The government needed to involve private partners in more constructive manner. “The government, for some strange reason, seems to think that there is no private partner involved,” he said.

Sandip Sehgal of Red Hat said, “There was an urgent need to identify the right players and the right model before a project is initiated.”

According to Satish Jha, India had not created technology suited to its context and there was deficit in thinking and learning experience, and this was the reason behind the failure of PPPs

Dinesh Tyagi, the only representative from government admitted that the reason behind the failure in implementing PPPs from the government side was its own structural setup. “There is no dearth of schemes at the government level but implementation of the projects requires active cooperation between several departments. The bureaucracy is huge and a person has to deal with layers of officials which make it difficult to properly implement the programme,” he said.
 

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