IV. CITIZEN - IT INTERFACE
Recommendations of the Citizen-IT Interface Working Group are as follows:
The National Task Force on IT and Software Development, constituted by the Prime Ministers office, has envisioned India emerging as an IT Superpower in the world by 2008. The Task Force has already submitted two reports to the government suggesting the policy level initiatives required to be taken for developing Software and Hardware industry in the country. The first report of the Task Force, called IT Action Plan, Part - I, dealing with software sector, has already been accepted by the government. A number of initiatives recommended in this report have already been implemented by the concerned ministries/departments. Task Force has set a target of US$ 50 billion for software export from India by 2008. Domestic software industry is targeted to reach the level of US$ 30 billion by this time. The IT Action Plan, Part - II, dealing with hardware sector, presently under consideration of the government, has set a target of US$ 20 billion. IT sector in the country, is thus expected to reach a level of US$ 100 billion by 2008.
The Task Force has identified Citizen-IT Interface as one of the key areas to service the information requirements of citizens through deeper penetration of IT in society and through the extensive use of latest tools in the networked society. In addition, IT can be used in everyday administration to make the quality of life of the citizen better, by removing hassles. While the government has used computers over the last three decades in applications such as taxation, census, health, education, industry, trade, planning, etc. the information system have at best succeeded only in maintaining records in an effective way. The criticism that governments are too bureaucratic and have not substantially changed even after the introduction of computers, remains. The emerging network based technologies allow a fresh look at the Citizen-IT Interface.
In the systems hitherto implemented, the existing rules and procedures of the government were simply automated into computerised information systems. The existing computer based systems are thus seen to serve bureaucratic interests and not peoples interests. Implementation of such rigid information systems tends to reinforce the belief of citizens that governments tend to forget that their purpose is to deal with people and their problems, and not to serve their own interests.
It is this kind of computer based information systems that have been implemented in governments all over the world. The bureaucracy was sandwiched between citizens and the information systems. The direct interface of citizen with IT has only recently become available through the wide spread use of networks, messaging over networks, Electronic Commerce and EDI technologies, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Systems, Smart Cards and many other new ways of communication between governments and citizens which bring about transparency in governance. The Citizen-IT Interface has now come into being.
Citizen-IT Interface Now Recommended
Networking of the society, and network based messaging systems with a whole new class of information devices/appliances connected to the Net have enabled the governments and the systems developers to look at the existing government procedures in a new way. In an attempt to reinvent the government for enabling Citizen-IT Interface, the governments have had to undertake reengineering of their existing processes. The induction of IT has created an opportunity to re-examine the processes in order to reengineer them. The emerging network based technologies allow a fresh look at the Citizen-IT Interface.
Government Wide Information Infrastructure
1. Government-wide electronic information infrastructure should be created to simplify service delivery, reduce duplication, and improve the level and speed of service to the public. This would provide the public (business and individuals) with the opportunity to send and receive, over electronic terminals, the information that currently passes between them and the government on paper.
2. Networks, Messaging over Networks is the key. Electronic Commerce technology holds the key as an efficient, low-cost service delivery mechanism. For this, nation-wide National Info Infrastructure is essential for carrying the services/information from government to citizens. Government and the private sector have to invest to develop this infrastructure.
3. The government should encourage the establishment of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) which will provide access to the Network based services from even the most remote locations in the country.
4. The government and the private sector would need to collaborate to put in place Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) system, since this is critical to the successful implementation of Electronic Commerce, as well as direct service delivery to citizens.
5. It is necessary that computers should be made cheaper to increase their penetration. The possibility of procuring cheaper second-hand computers available elsewhere should also be explored. These can be channelised through ET&T, and NICSI by proper coordination with groups of NRIs abroad.
Reengineering of Government Processes
6. Reengineering of the existing government processes and procedures is essential to bring about transparency in working, reducing bureaucratic controls, increasing efficiency and productivity, reducing cost of service delivery, etc. Integration of projects across various departments to provide a single point of contact for citizens for delivery of services electronically is essential.
7. There should be complete transparency in governance. Citizen charter of each and every government department should be available to citizens over the Net.
8. The Freedom of Information Act to be enacted which shall ensure right of citizen to have access to information.
9. State Institutes of Public Administration shall be reengineered to help bring about IT-Responsive State Governments. (Recommendation No. 98) Study of BPR will be an essential element in these institutes. Alignment of IT and business requirements of Government Departments, and focus of citizen as a customer to deliver one-stop integrated services will be essential. The institutes will need to be reengineered to orient their thinking on the Citizen-IT Interface.
10. A National Institute of Smart Government shall be set up to focus on all issues concerning IT-supported governance. (Recommendation No. 97) Electronic Governance Institutes throughout the world are concerned with public policy, cyber law, economic development, delivery of services to citizens, constituency relationships and replacing industrial age institutions with the electronic art of governance, i.e., through digital age technologies and networks. A Committee under the chairmanship of DG(NIC) comprising representatives of DPAR, Law, State Governments, Public Institutes of Administration, and the Industry should be set up to work out a detailed proposal for the establishment of this Institute.
Service Delivery to Citizens
11. Delivery of services should be on "Transaction fee" basis. Private sector should partner with government in electronic delivery of services. In view of the enormous capabilities of the private enterprises, they should be involved in public funded projects as far as possible.
12. A Business Model for join partnership of government and private sector to electronically deliver services on a sustained basis, so as to ensure that the government does not incur any expenditure, while the private sector invests initially, and recovers money on transaction fee basis, has been proposed. This may be taken as a model and tailored by government departments, state governments for their individual needs.
13. Service Delivery Points (SDPs) will have to be set up at convenient locations for citizens to access services. These will be established by the private sector.
14. At the SDPs, simple, easy to use, graphical user interfaces in local languages should be made available; Extensive graphic user interface in local languages to service semi-literate and even illiterate people; Interaction with the services should be through the clicks of a mouse, and touchscreens, with minimal or little interaction with the keyboard and interactive guidance as users work through questionnaires and forms, making them simpler and quicker to use than paper-based forms should be provided.
15. Service Delivery to citizens in rural areas: The logistics and infrastructural difficulties in the way of use of computers in the rural areas should be given attention. These include non-availability of electric power throughout the day, non-availability of manpower for maintenance, need for involvement of NGOs etc.
16. Study detailed information requirements of citizens (individuals and corporate). List out areas where Citizen-IT Interface will help make the life of ordinary citizen easier.
17. Services should be delivered to citizens in Rural Areas in the following sectors.
Service Delivery on Commercial Basis
18. Utilities Billing/Payment is a major problem area for citizens in urban areas. This also holds the potential of being taken up on a commercial basis with the help of private sector using the Business Model. Projects may be taken up for the following utilities :
19. Government Tendering/Procurement should be taken up as mission mode project. Electronic procurement and settlement system to eliminate the need for duplicate departmental systems. Government- wide single system will take advantage of data once entered in buyers system, as it is re-usable several times in the supply and settlement chain. The processes and data of buyers and sellers have to be integrated to implement a fully electronic procurement system which will enable informed, and transparent decision to be made with uniforms terms and conditions. The following will be integrated :
20. The process of filing income tax return should be simplified and made electronic. A project in the area should be taken up with the active participation of the private sector.
21. Study the systems already implemented by the Central Government, and State Governments such as Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Karnataka, Haryana, Maharashtra etc. where impact on citizen services has been felt. Best practices of implementation systems should be collected and disseminated to all governments for replication.
22. In the long run citizens must have unique identification Cards - the Citizen ID. The usefulness of the card needs to be driven home by making it a multi-purpose card, which will help the citizen receive a number of benefits and services. A single card should help the citizen interact with the Services, make payments, vote electronic, obtain ration card, passport, driving licence and so on. A smart card citizen ID with multi-functions should be launched. The private sector should be actively associated by ensuring a business angle in the project.
23. There is a strong HRD contact in making the Citizen-IT Interface successful. Citizens at large have to be trained in addition to training the government officials in launching their respective systems.
24. The Committee recommends that many Government departments should begin IT based information system straightaway to pave the way for practical IT Citizen Interface. Illustrative examples of such systems are given below:
25. The Committee recommends that pilot projects should be taken up jointly by the Central and State Governments to demonstrate the feasibility and the usefulness of Information Technology. It is proposed that Government of India fund the following projects immediately:
Profile of the projects are expected to be finalised shortly and will be forwarded to the Government for approval.