Execution tripping e-gov?

While most projects fail because of project development shortcomings, e-gov in India seems to be a victim of ill-thought implementation


Samir Sachdeva | May 5, 2011

According to a World Bank study, 35 percent of e-governance projects are total failures, 50 percent are partial failure and only 15 percent have achieved success. Experts, for long, have stated that most project failures are routed in improper project development. This was the reason that the government of India and state governments engaged top consulting organizations to conceptualise e-governance projects for them.

The government even established multiple institutions like NISG (National Institute for Smart Government), NeGD (National e-Governance Divisions), SeMTs (State e-Mission Teams) in different states and PMUs (Project management Units) in different departments. These institutions facilitated in programme development and management.

But despite these structures various e-governance projects have failed. Take the example of CSCs (Common Service Centres), an initiative which failed in many states to the extent that certain implementing agencies were forced to withdraw. The passport seva project (PSP) which was to make life easier for the average citizen has made landing a paaport difficult as the residents under the jurisdiction of pilot RPO (regional passport office) are not even able to get an online appointment. The project was considered as one of the landmark project being conceptualised by government but has been delayed in implementation and has resulted in dissatisfaction of people. 

Other projects like the eGovWorld project landed in legal mire and have yet not been implemented. The e-Biz project had to undergo rebidding after consortium partners fell out.  Another mission mode project (MMP) which has been awarded by the government faced various challenges and it was only after the government toned down the service level agreements (SLAs) that the project could meet its various contractual obligations. At state level there are projects which had been rolled back like the e-office initiative of the government of Andhra Pradesh. The key reasons of failure in the implementation range from transfer of champions, individual driven approach, unrealistic goals/objectives, unrealistic timelines and more.

It is important to note here that the right kind of private partner is identified for implementation. The passport seva project was about infrastructure and operations, the CSC project was essentially about retailing, eGovWorld project was about content development but despite all these it is a software company which is identified to implement these projects. The application development portion of these projects is less than 10 per cent despite that all e-governance projects are awarded to IT companies and therefore serious issues in implementation.

The government seriously needs to have a re-look on its implementation strategy for e-governance projects in order to boost chances of success.



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