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> RECOMMENDATIONS - e-GOVERNANCE
  e-Governance
 

January 26, 2006

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

After a series of discussions and reviews of various e-governance efforts at the Centre and State levels, the National Knowledge Commission formed a special group, under the chairmanship of Nandan Nilekani, to study e-governance. The report of this group was discussed at the Planning Commission and presented to the Minister for communications and information technology and the Minister?s staff. Thereafter, several discussions were held with other stakeholders including the Administrative Reform Commission. Based on these discussions we are convinced that e-governance is more about an opportunity for administrative reforms than merely about electronics and information technology and infrastructure. We are pleased to submit our recommendations on e-governance which broadly relate to Processes & Standards, Infrastructure and Organization as follows:

1. Government process reengineering before any computerization-At present the egovernance efforts are primarily based on computerizing age-old processes left behind by British Raj and compounded by a plethora of new layers and silos by Indian bureaucracy, each working within departmental boundaries and pet-priorities. As a result we are computerizing cumbersome processes and hence not commensurately benefiting from it. Simply digitizing the existing government processes merely adds an additional layer of expense, complexity, delay and confusion. In our judgment, now is a unique opportunity in the history of India to leave behind the British Raj and re-engineer and modernize Government processes to build a new India of the 21st century. Hence it is essential that we first redesign the government processes keeping the citizen at the centre, providing hassle-free enablement of citizens, businesses, producers and consumers, replacing the old mistrust and control regime from the British Raj. This redesigning of government processes will drastically reduce the numbers and duration of successive steps required to obtain services. It will also provide traceable records; enable enforcement of individual performance, accountability, efficiency, productivity as well as transparency of policies and processes.

2. 10 to 20 Important Processes and Services- To make an immediate impact on citizens it is critical to identify and simplify important processes and services, say 10 to 20 to begin with, which are currently cumbersome, bureaucratic and prone to unnecessary delays and even corruption. These processes can be simplified and made available as web-based services. Initially, these services could include birth certificate, death certificate, proof of residence, ration/ ID cards, etc. Other processes can be added over a period of time. This approach will require each state to implement these processes in concert and learn from each other.

3. Common Standards-At present various state governments are doing their own thing to selectively computerize their processes and provide e-governance. Many of these programmes are vendor driven and not scalable. It is critical to develop and enforce citizen/business entitlement standards uniformly over all states and central ministries and functions, spanning from voting, taxes, certificates, financial products, law-enforcement and welfare for individuals, properties of land, institutions, businesses etc. These standards should not be hardware-centric and vendor dependent but should enable easy participation by any State, Panchayat Institution, business, NGO or citizen, whenever they decide. These standards, templates and data formats must be designed carefully by teams of experts drawn from government, IT companies, academia, R & D institutions and users/stakeholders who understand latest trends, technology, software, user interfaces and interoperability requirements. We recommend these new standards be followed by all state governments. At the same time, we are conscious of the need to incorporate some of the standards followed by state governments.

 

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