Wednesday, June 26, 2013

New Technologies (ICT - Information & Communication Technologies) Employed In Public Systems Management For Better Results In Governance

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The 21st Century that we live in is described quite aptly as the "Information Era".  It is an era of Connectivity, Information sharing and Participation between the Public and the respective State/Governments the world over. This leads to a thriving and vibrant Democracy.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) aims at bringing the above mentioned objectives to life along with transparency, accountability, responsiveness in Public Governance and sustainable growth for the people.

The fruitful presence and boons of ICT in Public Systems Management (inter governmental/Intra Governmental, Govt. to business/Govt. to Citizens) is well evident and obvious to each one in the society. It is also regulated from time to time via the laws laid down in the IT Act (2000) to stop nefarious activities routed through the ICT medium.

Let's look at a basic definition of ICT :
Stands for "Information and Communication Technologies." ICT refers to technologies that provide access to information through telecommunications. It is similar to Information Technology (IT) (which focuses mainly on information access), but ICT primarily focuses on communication technologies which includes use of the Internet ( E-mail, Instant Messaging, etc.), wireless networks, cell phones(SMS services), and other communication mediums between two parties.

1) Sachivalaya Vahini: It is the ICT Package made by the National Informatics Centre, Bangalore and employed by the State Secretariat in Karnataka in all its 40 departments connecting 1000 computers and answering the needs of the 6000 employees viz. E-Governance by facilitating policy and decision making process.
Since the State Secretariat is the apex decision making body in the state government therefore it needs to maintain utmost efficiency and accuracy as there is too much at stake ( Public Welfare & limited resources). And to maintain the same, the state Secretariat needs to hold enormous amount of communication, maintaining and processing large volumes of data files or other formats,etc. All this was being done manually in the Karnataka state Secretariat prior to Sachivalaya Vahini stepping in and that is why the work there was very slow and inefficient.

Sachivalaya Vahini's various components are:

a) Patra - Letter Monitoring System - Receives and scans letters received by the Secretariat and transfers to relevant departments of the state Secretariat for its review and action and final disposal.

b) Kadatha - File Monitoring System - maintaining and speedy disposal of files.

c) Mokaddame - Court Case Monitoring System

d) Aayayaya - Budget Monitoring System - Helps estimate Budgets and funds allocation to departments and its monitoring.

e) Sibbandi - Personnel Information System - Maintains all information pertaining to each Personnel working in the Secretariat.

f) Customer Support System - Helps in resolving technical issues of the employees regarding the software and network.

1) COURTIS (Court Information System)- Launched in 1990 for the benefit of the entire legal community and commissioned for streamlining registries of various courts in the country. All High Courts and the Supreme Court of the country have been successfully armed with the following applications through NICNET:

a) Case Status - Helps provide tracking of all pending and disposed cases statuses that can be accessed by advocates as well as litigants and legal scholars.

b) Judgement Information System ( JUDIS) - It is a CD-ROM encompassing complete texts of all reported judgements of the Supreme Court of India from 1950 to 2000. Judgements from 2001 onwards are available on the Internet. NIC markets these CD-ROMs on a membership basis. The Internet display judgements are available within 24 hours of passing of judgement.

c) Cause Lists on the Internet - Displays schedules of cases to be heard b the respective Court the following day.

d) Daily Orders on the Internet - Displays the daily orders of the SC and HC as soon as the orders are signed by the respective Judges.

The Govt. of Andhra Pradesh has introduced the E-Panchayat software in Ramachandrapuram Gram Panchaat, Medak District as part of its E- Governance initiatives that is user friendly and citizen centric. This pilot e-panchayat project comprises nearly 20 main modules and nearly 150 sub modules in line with the 30 sectoral functions of the Gram Panchayats. It has been rolled out in several pilot villages and is to be expanded majorly to all of Andhra Pradesh's Panchayats and a National roll out plan for its implementations is also being taken up . It aims to cover all information requirements of the village Panchayat administration.

The Multimedia Support Corridor's advent in Malaysia has helped the Public Service there leverage the potential revolutionising service delivery through seamless and integrated govt. via its e-govt. flagship applications. Smart partnerships between local and international consortia working together with the govt. in developing leading edge e-govt. solutions has produced the first set of e-govt. pilot projects that have been implemented successfully which include: e-services, e-procurement, electronic labour exchange, generic office environment, human resources management information system and project monitoring system.

We will focus on the E-Services Project here in this case study.

E-services is the capability that enables citizens and businesses to conduct transactions through a one-stop service window and provides easier access to govt. agencies such as the Road Transport Dept.,Ministry of Health and utility companies.
It provides the citizens with a multiple delivery channels with 24 hour access that is available anywhere at their convenience;citizens are no longer limited to conducting these transactions at agency branches and utility offices. It also caters to the various languages spoken in Malaysia and is extremely user friendly even to the elderly and physically and visually challenged.
All this has helped in making services more efficient, corruption free and people becoming more participative and responsive as well as sincere in terms of paying bills on time,etc.
A large part of this success comes from the Malaysian government's aggressive encouragement of wider ownership of personal computers,tax deductions and providing IT facilities in rural areas such as the Internet.

1) Minimal Internet Penetration n rural areas
2) Computer illiteracy in urban areas
3) Untrained or improper training given to employees working on these softwares in govt. systems and organisations.
4) Govt. not implementing schemes to help the rural areas develop affinity with ICT via services like tele-medicines, tele-marketing and e-commerce.
5) Lack of will to share and disclose information with citizens/beneficiaries of schemes for them.
6) Inadequate infrastructure, language barriers, lack of capacity building initiatives, absence of grievance mechanisms, non-availability of information and variations in utilisation of information.

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