IT Taskforce
Basic Background Report


IX. Organisational StructUre

For implementing the IT Action Plans Part-I and Part-II as well as the strategic policies outline in the foregoing the following organisational structure instrumentalities are recommended:

1. Ministry of Informatics

Current technological developments are fast blurring the boundaries between computers, communications and broadcasting. Cable networks can by up gradation of their networks offer telephone services and telephone companies can compete in delivery of broadcasting and video services. In future, according to the Economist, "there will no longer be distinct data and voice markets, just one for combined data/voice/video". The convergence of the Internet with the telephone and television will also bring in new dimensions in the IT industry.

In keeping with these trends a Ministry of Informatics should be created by merging the Department of Telecommunications, Department of Electronics and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. This will bring the much-needed coherence into the planning and implementation of Information Technology related initiatives at the national level.

2. Adviser to Prime Minister

It is desirable to appoint a key adviser(s) in the Office of the Prime Minister in order to give proper emphasis and focus to this area. P.N.Dhar in his 'The Prime Minister's Office- Seeing Through the Mystique' had commented that "the increasing complexity of governance in India today .... cannot be dealt with by the Prime Minister).... without a core of specialised advisers on the pattern of US President"."

3. Information Technology Adviser in Planning Commission

A separate division with an Information Technology Adviser should also be set up in the Planning Commission to provide proper focus on Information Technology related activities.

4. High level Committee

It is important that the process of defining and implementing a vision for the country is adequately structured with key 'enables' in place. This structure should be insulated to the extent possible form changes at the political level and should also have the credibility and authority to see the process of planning and implementation to its logical conclusion.

At the apex level it would be appropriate to set up a High level Committee on Information Technology both at the Centre and in the States. The Committee should be chaired by the Prime Minister at the Centre and should draw upon the best expertise available internationally. knowledge has no respect for national boundaries and we must attempt to think and act global, while formulating and concentrating our strategies for the future. Such expertise should be drawn from top level IT practitioners, academics and administrators. Inputs should inter alia also be considered, from industry sectors including from Small and Medium Enterprises, the exporting community, the media and mass communication agencies and Non-Governmental Organisations.

The perspective of government/public sector employees should also be taken into account, as this group may feel particularly threatened by some of the initiatives taken up, It is important that mechanisms are devised for incorporating and addressing the Task Forces.

5. Task Forces

Task Forces should be formed under the High Level Committee, which should focus on different areas of specialisation or clusters e.g. Education, Leisure and Tourism, Health care etc. In the case of the National Computer Board in Singapore clusters have been set up on construction, digital library, education, health care, law and justice, manufacturing and distribution and tourism and leisure. Task Groups should also be formed to address issues like Standards, legal and regulatory matters, funding and management of change.

6. State level Committees

State Information Technology Committees should be set up in each of the States preferably chaired by the respective Chief Ministers. The composition of the State level committees could be left to the individual states for defining a suitable structure and composition.

7. Chief Information or Chief Knowledge Officers

Each Ministry/Department should have a Chief Information/Knowledge Officer for giving the process of informalisation. The Chief Information Officer should have the visibility and responsibilities to advise on the design, development and implementation of Information systems. Thailand's National Information Technology Committee has recently approved the appointment of Chief Information Officers for every Ministry', Australia and the US among many other countries already have similar arrangements. Unless we build up capability within the government with a well trained corps of IT professionals it will be difficult for Information Technology to make inroads into its functioning.

8. Council of Chief Information Officers

A Council of Chief Information officers could provide an interagency forum for one design, modernisation, use and implementation of IT applications. The forum could also contribute significantly towards defining standards and practices among government agencies.

9. Interstate IT Forum

It is important to devise an institutional mechanism for states to coordinate and collaborate on on-line projects. An interstate IT forum at the national level is necessary for promoting collaboration across states for delivery of electronic services to the public. The Forum will facilitate transfer of expertise and technology between state governments and will co-ordinate pilot projects. The forum could also be set up a web site for disseminating information among the state governments.

To begin with, a meeting of Chief Ministers should held at the national level and a co-ordination mechanism should be evolved for rationalisation of policies impinging on the Information Technology sector. The prioritisation of national information Technology flagship applications should be discussed in the forum. States should be encouraged to set up Department of information Technology and Technology organisations on the lines of the Andhra Pradesh Technology Services for example. The states should also be asked to prepare their Information Technology plans and accord high priority to the development of information systems and electronic Citizen interfaces.

The Interstate IT Forums should serve as a clearinghouse for strategic ideas on use of Information Technology for better government.