DIT holds consultation on draft electronic service delivery bill

To create entrepreneurial space for the industry: Sibal

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Samir Sachdeva | July 20, 2011



Department of IT, Government of India held consultation on the proposed legislation on draft electronic service delivery, presided over by Kapil Sibal, union minister for communication and IT on Monday in the Capital.  During the consultation the stakeholders from the various states government and central ministries and the industry put forth their suggestions and feedback to the DIT. 

Clarity on term ‘public service’, use of digital signatures, keeping out the clause on eligibility, for chief commissioner and commissioners of central electronic service delivery commission (CESDC) and state electronic service delivery commission (SESDC), to the bureaucrats, minimising the time in electronic service delivery as against manual service delivery, deciding timelines for disposal of cases by the central and various state commission were some key recommendations that were made by the stakeholder gathering on the consultation day.

While initiating the consultation, Sibal said there is need for standardization and compliance and ensuring interoperability between different systems.  Like for example there should be standard forms for FIR across the country, like for diagnostic services, he said. On the status of NeGP, the minister said the state wide area network (SWAN) project is almost complete in most of the states and state data centre (SDC) is moving progressively.

“Now it is time for ensuring electronic service delivery. After right to information (RTI), this is the most effective legislation to empower people. There is a need for entitling people with the right to services,” Sibal affirmed.   “ESD is an opportunity for the industry as well, since there is great requirement for content and e-enablement which would be provided by the industry. It would create entrepreneurial space for the industry,” he added.  

In his address during the consultation, which was his first formal public meet after taking charge as minister of state (telecommunications) for communications and IT, Milind Deora said the government’s move on pushing through legislation of electronic delivery of services is laudable. Later he assured, “The feedback submitted today will be looked into very seriously”, recalling the rephrasing of ‘roti kapda makan’ (food, clothes and shelter) as the basic necessity for humans to which is now called as ‘roti kapda makan aur internet’ (food, clothes, shelter and internet).

Sachin Pilot, minister of state (IT and post) for communication and IT said, “We won’t just sit satisfied with passing of the bill we will do everything which is possible to push forward the digital agenda.”

R Chandrashekhar, secretary, department of IT, government of India said the interface with the government has not been a pleasant experience for the common man. He said the national e-governance plan (NeGP) was formulated with a vision to deliver services to citizens in their proximity and would cover any department, which offer services to the citizens. It has led to creation of ICT infrastructure across the country and it has created awareness among all the states about the focus on e-governance, which cannot be belittled, he averred.   

However, he conceded, even in best of states it is still a long way to cover in terms of ensuring substantial electronic delivery of services. The secretary pointed that the government of India has been generous in its spending on e-governance.  “Demand from people to pay for services is already there and to make the environment more conducive, we are coming up with legislation, so that it makes it mandatory for the government agencies to deliver services electronically,” Chandrashekhar said.  

Shankar Aggarwal, additional secretary, DIT opined that through this bill government intent to deliver good quality of services in education, health, financial inclusion and e-enable service delivery.

Giving his presentation on a similar legislation passed on in the state of Madhya Pradesh, Anurag Shrivastava from the state Department of IT said, “A lot of emphasis was put on stipulated time period within which a service has to be delivered or a case has to be disposed by the first appellate.” 

“We have covered nine departments and 26 services including energy and food and civil supplies. We will start electronic monitoring by August, 2011. Penalty to the designated officer and the first appellate is between Rs 500 to Rs 5000,” Shrivastava added.  

Providing some figures on the working of legislation, Shrivastava said, “The legislation was approved on September 23, 2011. Till now we have received 52 lakh applications and just 7000 are pending.”

Rajendra Kumar, secretary, IT, government of NCT of Delhi elaborated on monitoring on e-SLA.  It is national informatics centre (NIC) created application which generates management information system (MIS) reports. It covered services delivered from government agencies including Delhi Police and Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).

Rajesh Aggarwal, IT secretary, Maharashtra said data preservation rules were an essential part of the state legislation on right to e-governance / electronic service delivery.  As penalty, the responsible official was fined Rs 250 per day.

Deepak Kumar, principal secretary, general administration department, Bihar articulated Bihar’s experience of implementing right to delivery of public services.  “The law passed unanimously on April 29, 2010. The law has to be implemented in three phases…phase one – electronification of manual paper application and manual delivery of service; phase two- online application submission at e-Kiosks; and phase three online form submission and online service delivery.”

“WE have placed IT manager at district centre and IT assistant at block level. Very soon will be launching ‘may I help you’ booths and ‘Jigyasa’ call centre and IVRS calls too,” he added. Besides, state has launched ‘tatkal’ services, wherein an applicant can apply for a quick service by paying a little more.

Deepak Maheshwary from Microsoft submitted that the Commission must come up with annual reports on the number of cases disposed and pending cases.  An official from CBEC said that the eligibility criteria of having served as Secretary to Government of India or equivalent in states must be done away with.

Dr Rajasekharan Pillai, Vice Chancellor, IGNOU opined that the bill should also cover autonomous institutions, especially the universities.  Ashutosh Deshpandey, Additional Director, DIT, Rajasthan pressed for the use of e-Forms in service application submission, interoperability and timeline for grievance redressal.

An official from department of administrative reforms put forth the need to define term ‘public services’ and ensure minimum bouquet of services. Santosh Babu, Secretary, IT, Tamil Nadu said while government opts for electronic service delivery, the electronic movement of files in government offices and service should be made mandatory.

An official working with Maharashtra SeMT said, “We don t need to give 6 months long time to departments to identify services which are to be delivered electronically. She also said that the timeline for electronic service delivery should be either less or equal to manual service delivery.

The communication and IT ministry  had sought suggestions on the following aspects of the proposed bill including: timeline mentioned in the draft bill which extends from 5 to 8 years, suggestion on any of the sections of the bill, the constitution of CESDC and SESDC, assistance from centre to states on ensuring interoperability, need for consultation at state level for notifying the services to be covered under the legislation and on ensuring transparency, accountability and openness in the government.

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