“Service providers should understand our concerns”

by Ashwani Mishra    Oct 25, 2011

Golok Kumar Simli, Principal Consultant and Head –Technology, PMU, Passport Seva Project, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India shares his views on some key technology challenges in the government sector.Golok Kumar Simli

The Government of India has made huge efforts in embracing new technologies and pushing the IT infrastructure in the last five years post the launch of the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP).

E-Governance projects like Aadhaar, the Passport Seva Project (PSP), automation of Central Exercise and Service Tax, MCA 21 of the Corporate Affairs Ministry, and ESIC are operational. There have also been initiatives by various government ministries to roll out IT systems and solutions.

In addition to these, there are many projects that are being rolled out across various states including the State Wide Area Networks (SWANs) and Common Service Centres (CSCs). Out of these, about one lakh projects are already operational. Besides these, the National Knowledge Network has already connected hundreds of institutes.

Over the years, the user demands have shifted from administration and ruling to governance and service delivery. We want to focus on timely outcome of results, transparency, accountability, reach and availability at an affordable cost. We want to create opportunities which are collaborative, conducive and appealing to our user base that encompasses each and every citizen in the country.

However, to achieve these features, we need to address various challenges.

Process re-engineering, change management and project management continue to be major challenges for the government sector. Though we have deployed SWANs and CSCs, the challenge is in developing customized applications as we lack domain expertise in some areas. We need to design application and services that are in tune with the concerned departments.

Data sharing and information exchange along with legal and regulatory compliances are other concerns while selecting solutions.

Another key challenge for us has been the lack of understanding shown by many service providers when it comes to IT solution offerings and deployment. Take the example of cloud computing, which has huge potential to address our concerns. We have already invested on technology, and we might look at the private cloud model for our citizen services.

However, service providers are not providing answers that we are looking for. They should not try to hard sell their solutions without understanding our complex and age old processes.

What if I want to move my 90 million passport seva records on the cloud, and if I decide to move out of the model at some instance, will I be able to do so? Or can I smoothly transition from one cloud provider to another? Can I integrate with various cloud providers without limitations? There are no answers from providers.

We have been stressing that a Public–private partnership (PPP) is the best mode for tackling ICT enabled complex and e-governance projects. However, the providers should also realize that they need to work as partners in our governance initiatives.

This article is part of a CXOtoday initiative where we ask senior leaders in industry to write about technology issues or challenges they face.