E-gov has curbed discretion, corruption

Computerisation of municipal corporation of Greater Mumbai was no small task; but, the profits are no small either

samirsachdeva

Samir Sachdeva | December 23, 2011


Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai
Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai

For the past 15 years, 65-year-old retired senior citizen, Vijay Kumar Korgaonkar of Jogeshwari (East) has been regularly visiting the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai’s (MCGM) K-East ward to pay his water bills and periodic renewal of shop licence. He brings along water bills of his neighbours in the society so that they don’t have to make a trip to the civic body. Computerisation of citizen services has been very comforting as he now spends much less time in the civic agency’s office. Earlier, he had to wait in long queues as the staff processed his papers manually.

At another counter, 79-year-old MM Shah awaits as the customer service staff electronically processes his water bill. The Vile Parle (East) resident has been coming to the civic body’s ward office for 25 years for payment of water bills, property tax and other property-related issues. He is satisfied with the computerised system as his work gets done in maximum half an hour after which he leaves for home.

Dhanashree, 27, who came to the civic body’s ward office to collect birth certificate of her child, did not have to wait for long as the hospital had already forwarded the birth details to the civic body and she was quickly issued the certificate.

Computerisation in MCGM started in 1998 when it started issuing all receipts through computers. Later, in 2007 with implementation of enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution of SAP, all licences and certificates were issued through e-governance. With ERP, the corporation switched from a cash-based accounting systems to an accrual-based accounting systems. Now all CFC’s of the civic body are operating on ERP and all sources of revenue and expenditure are computerised.

The project was conceptualised and driven by the then additional commissioner, Shree Kant Singh, with core team comprising representatives of all key MCGM departments and HoDs. Surendra Pagare, assistant supervisor, citizen facilitation centre (CFC) under the K-East ward, was the first person whose user-ID was created under the ERP system. Being the biggest of its 24 wards, K-East ward alone generates 80,000-1,00,000 SAP receipts annually. At present, it is being consolidated and upgraded by the current additional commissioner, Aseem Kumar Gupta.  

MCGM has purchased licences from SAP and is now using its ERP, which provides comprehensive solutions for multidisciplinary organisations like municipal corporations. The SAP-based ERP was implemented in consortium with vendors ABM Knowledgeware Limited and Siemens.

“The corporation will rank very high in adopting ERP amongst all corporations. In five modules, we covered the main engine of ERP i.e., finance, materials management, project management, real estate and human resources. Today, no work orders are given outside the SAP systems,” says additional municipal commissioner, MCGM, Aseem Kumar Gupta.

Govind Chauhan, vice-president, ABM Knowledgeware, explains the challenges in implementing ERP. “SAP is an integrated software while typical government functioning is departmental and focuses on work of one department at a time and not concerned with the organisation as a whole. The challenge here was to change this paradigm of departmental approach to an organisational approach where it required handholding MCGM through this change and successfully implement the software so that it remains live. This has been a major achievement for ABM. The project has not only stabilised but is also delivering desired results because the information is available on the website and checks and balances can be put in place.”

Sanjay Patil, deputy municipal commissioner, information technology, MCGM, says, “We also have to spend on hiring manpower from outside as we do not have not IT equipped manpower. At present, 224 MCGM staff members are undergoing training at BPCL for SAP, for which the civic body is incurring an expenditure of '5 crore. It further plans to train its entire one lakh human resources.”

MCGM on an average spends '250 crore annually for maintenance and new e-governance sub-projects. Systematic improvements have been taking place on a continuous basis over the years.

Explaining that ERP system requires a lot of commitment from the organisation. Gupta adds, “Though we require implementers to install the ERP, yet it does not mean that once an external agency carries out your work, it is done. While only 10 percent work is carried out by third party agencies, 90 percent work depends on commitment of organisation.”

The civic body is now receiving e-tenders which have to be quoted through ERP system and will be put up on the MCGM website. With this, chances of corruption will reduce further.

On an average, 30 lakh citizen-centric and transaction services are processed every year. The project systems module manages 4,000 projects per year (2,000 new departmental projects and 2,000 ward-level maintenance projects). The finance module does a granular budget control of a total budget of over '20,000 crore per year while materials management module manages inventory of over 3 lakh ranging from food items for hospitals to engineering equipment while fleet management module manages over 2,000 vehicles on daily basis.

According to stakeholders, e-governance has curbed discretion of and corruption among managers as it provides good management information systems to inform them on pending work and reasons for its delay. It brings in a lot of accountability as it is easy to know which transaction was pending and for how long.

Yogesh Mahangade, deputy director, information technology, MCGM, says, “The e-governance initiative in MCGM is ranked 32nd among top 100 cities and 10th among Asian cities by American Institute of Public Administration. By implementing IT systems, our aim was to reach the entire city by bridging digital divide through successful e-governance solutions with efficient service to citizens, administrators, employees and corporators.”

With authorities planning to fully computerise MCGM by the next four-five years, it has been a challenge to keep the momentum alive as initial excitement faded away. Now almost all interface with public is information and communications technology (ICT) enabled. All CFC centres across 24 wards of the civic body offer 215 citizen services through computerised systems that include collection of water bills, property taxes, issuance of birth and death certificates, renewal of shop and establishments licences, approvals of building plans, issuance of factories licence, health and trade licence, dog licence and octroi collection and so on. The online processes are integrated to the backend system of wards management process through workflows.
 

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