Don't omit gov from e-gov capacity building

Private partner is proving no better

samirsachdeva

Samir Sachdeva | January 27, 2011



The recent proposal of the Maharashtra government to create Maharashtra information and technology services (MITS) has again highlighted the need of dedicated IT professionals as required for various arms of central and state governments. Last year, Haryana had similarly proposed a cadre for IT services.

The idea of building human capacity for e-governance projects is not new. In fact, the guidelines for capacity building for e-governance figured in the national e-governance plan (NeGP) approved in May 2006. However, the government is yet to introduce the right model for same. It started with establishing programme management by employing professionals on the rolls of the national institute for smart government (NISG), and then it identified a few private companies and outsourced professionals from these companies. Now, the government has formed the national e-governance division (NeGD) and state e-mission teams (SeMT) to do the recruitment through NISG.

NISG on its part is recruiting these professionals on two-year contracts. Ask a government officer and he clarifies that the vacancies for SeMTs were outsourced to NISG to bring the best private talent on competitive salaries. The other reason that is mentioned is that the government was not keen on taking permanent government staff and therefore the employees were taken on the rolls of NISG.

But has the private partner delivered? Vacancies for SeMTs which were advertised in June last year are still getting filled. The union public service commission (UPSC) would have taken lesser time to finalise the candidates. Also if a private organisation is taking more than seven months to finalise candidates for a two-year contract assignment, its own efficiency is in doubt. The various right to information enquires have revealed that the government itself is in doubt on what constitutes a NeGD. Now it says it is only the government employees on deputation from other government departments that constitute NeGD, which appears contrary to what was advertised for SeMTs.  The RTI query on the list of staff of NeGD says there are only six government employees in NeGD. 

Also important is the fact that the fate of capacity building guidelines at the centre and the capacity building roadmaps at the level of states remain unknown since past four years of their approval.

The government needs to put in place an institutional framework for building capacities in e-governance. It needs to create HR polices and create a central database of e-governance champions who can be appointed to e-governance projects/ programmes without delays. For the long run, the idea of having a separate cadre of India IT services needs to be explored. Central government organisations like CDAC, NIC, NICSI, Cert-In, MLA, DOEACC, ERNET and state level organisations like Punjab Infotech (Punjab), ELCOT (Tamil Nadu), GIL (Gujarat) etc should be strengthened and re-engineered rather than creating new structures for e-governance. Last but not least a true knowledge management initiative needs to be evolved which should become a single reference point for e-governance professionals.

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