State of Smart Governance: Central Government

Team INCLUSION

India has witnessed development in all the sectors of its economy. The agriculture and allied sectors employ 60 per cent of the total workforce and despite a steady decline of its share in the GDP. It plays a significant role in the socio-economic development of India. The concept of inclusive growth advocates growth to reduce poverty and other disparities, raise the level of employment, protecting environment, etc.

India’s policymakers are impelled by a desire to make the country an economic super-power. India aims to have a high growth rate with focus on equity. It is now a given that good governance is dependant not merely upon good policy advises but more importantly on the processes and incentives to design and implement good policies themselves. Any weak institutions of governance will make an adverse impact on service delivery. The projects that were reviewed for this year’s awards all had a clear sense of maximum governance and inclusion embedded in their ethos. Ranging from health to finance to e-governance, the Centre has performed remarkably well in most of the categories in the impact and quality of service delivery dimension. Small wonder then, that the centre has won a total of eight Awards and 13 SKOCH Order-of-Merit. Two Awards each have been won by the Center in the Governance, e-Governance and Agriculture & Rural Development category while it won one Award in the Finance category.

 

“Mere good governance is not enough; it has to be pro-people and proactive. Good governance is putting people at the center of development process.”
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister

Key Achievements

In the Agriculture & Rural Development segment, the programmes that were recognised for excellence were, the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya - Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKU), Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) for Strengthening of Programme Implementation and Governance through Conversion of Yearly Plan (YP) state to Action Plan State; the Department of Agriculture & Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture’s project on Extreme Weather Alerts and for Crop Insurance. In e-Governance, the winners were, National Informatics Centre (NIC), for Government e-Procurement System of NIC (GePNIC) and eHRMS - Manav Sampada – A Tool for Human Resource Management; Ministry of Home Affairs for e-Tourist Visa Scheme; Atomic Energy Regulatory Board for eLORA (e-Licensing of Radiation Applications); Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation for Online Monitoring System of Swachh Bharat Mission-Grameen (SBM-G). In Governance, the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) for Universal Account Number Programme and the Transformation of Social Security Agenda in India projects won an Award each. In Finance, the Central Board of Excise and Custom won the Award for the ‘ICE GATE’ project.

Commencing our detailing with the Agriculture & Rural Development category, the Centre’s projects won two Awards and four Order-of-Merit. The Awards went to Deen Dayal Upadhyaya – Grameen Kaushalya Yojana, MoRD and Department of Agriculture & Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture project on Extreme Weather Alerts. DDU-GKY is the placement and career progression oriented skilling initiative of MoRD. As an important part of the National Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Development Policy, 2015 and a strategic intervention under the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM), it aims at social and economic transformation of rural poor youth by skilling to industry-relevance, enabling employment and provision of career progression support. DDU-GKY has embarked on a time-bound strategy to move from ‘direct implementation’ mode to ‘State-engaged implementation mode’ by 2017, through adequate ‘empowerment’ of the State Government machinery complementing it with technical support and capacity building interventions. DDU-GKY has so far trained over 5.08 lakh candidates, while securing placement to over 3.6 lakh trained candidates and has established over 460 training centres across 20 States. Youth from over 500 districts have been impacted through DDU-GKY. At present, DDU-GKY is offering training programmes in over 100 jobs or trades, cutting across a wide range of sectors.

In the category of e-Governance, the first Award went to the National Informatics Centre, for Government e-Procurement System of NIC (GePNIC), which aims to support governance by ushering in more effective and transparent inter and intra-governmental processes. This product has been built as a single reusable system. The system, which is being progressively used since the year 2007, has been designed taking into account the General Financial Rules (GFR), tender rules followed in various states and also the CVC’s guidelines on tendering. It also adheres to various guidelines issued by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. The system is already very widely adopted in 25 States/UTs where various departments and state public sector units are using it. In the Central Government, around 130 Government entities are using the system across the country. Around 889,352 electronic tenders worth Rs 14,63,371.77 crore have been processed using the system across these 39 live instances till 30 June 2015.

The Manav Sampada System - Human Resource Management System (eHRMS), implemented by NIC, has the twin objectives of maintaining electronic record of the service of all employees across all State Government Departments and to provide a single User ID/Logon for the majority of the e-Governance applications in the State. The project was initially implemented in Himachal Pradesh and has now been successfully implemented in Delhi, Punjab, Jharkhand, Bihar and Chandigarh. Total savings in terms of paper, postage, fuel and employee cost in a month is Rs 38.63 crore.

The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation’s project, the Online Monitoring System of Swachh Bharat Mission – Grameen (SBM-G) was a notable addition to the Order-of-Merit this year. The Online Monitoring System of SBM is a comprehensive web-based information system. The system enables the Centre, state, district, block and Panchayat to monitor the progress of the coverage of toilets for Individual household and Community Sanitary Complexes. The system facilitates the uploading the photographs of toilets using mobile application (both online and offline mode along with latitude–longitude and usage of toilets). It also enables SMS communication with beneficiaries for ascertaining whether they are satisfied with toilets provided to them under the SBM-G programme. The MIS is today managing the sanitation status of each household scattered in 2.50 lakh Gram Panchayats, six lakh villages and more than 16 lakh habitations.

In the Finance category, the CBEC’s project, ‘ICE GATE’ excelled over all other and won the Award. ICEGATE stands for the Indian Customs EDI Gateway. (EDI = Electronic Data Interchange). The key objectives were: to build an informed society; encourage citizens’ participation; reduce response time; transparency in governance; to make the government accountable; and, ignite growth and development. The impact can be gauged from the fact that huge number of messages are exchanged daily with 21 categories of stakeholders. 21 banks do an average e-Payment of Rs 800 crore with a drawback disbursal of Rs 27,400 crore in 2014-15 alone.

The Governance category saw the EPFO bag two awards for its outstanding projects, the Universal Account Number Programme and Transformation of Social Security Agenda in India. The UAN Programme was implemented with the need that there existed no common number to singularly identify a member and link his employment with different establishments. UAN designed to act as an umbrella for multiple employments of a member. This technological intervention has also enabled a higher degree of interface and communication by way of emails and SMS between the EPF member and EPFO. More than 1.11 crore EPF members have already activated their UAN as on 14th August 2015.

Learnings

In order for a programmatic intervention to succeed in implementation, it is very critical for securing commitment and continual engagement of all the key stakeholders. The respective state governments should be involved with a strong focus on the system’s ease-of-use. Active support from the top leadership will help drive system use and compliance with approved systems and processes. It is also important to remember that technology is a tool and not a magic-wand. This requires administrative will to implement the best plans. Continuous process re-engineering is also required for value addition.

The direct involvement of the State Governments in key activities, right from the identification of the target beneficiaries to oversight of the project implementation to monitoring and reporting, ensures ‘quality’, ‘efficiency’ and ‘effectiveness’ in any programme implementation. Any empowered institution (within the state machinery) could go a long way in contributing to the state – both in terms of ‘efficiency’ and ‘effective’ delivery of results. In most of the cases, which were reviewed, these empowered institutions were well utilised by the respective State Governments for further leveraging of their stand-out competencies in managing complex project implementation and delivering results.

Moving Ahead

In addition to recruiting and sustaining a large manpower, financial prudence requires documentary evidence of all transactions, which requires collation, physical verification and auditing. Another challenge that is seen is the non-standardised format results in different styles of maintaining a service record within the department thus creating further complications in manual record keeping, transfer and locating of the same when needed. Due to vast size, huge population and varied topography of the country, dissemination of information in timely manner then becomes critical.

The general weakness of accountability mechanisms is an impediment to improving services across the board. Bureaucratic complexities and procedures make it difficult for a citizen as well as the civil society to navigate the system for timely and quality delivery of services.

When good governance is guaranteed, citizens go about their personal business and pursuits with enhanced expectations. On the other side of the spectrum, bad or indifferent governance not only restricts opportunities of success but it can even degenerate into sectarian conflicts and civil wars. In such an atmosphere, personal accomplishments as well as social achievements get severely restricted. Good governance is accordingly associated with accountable political leadership, enlightened policy-making and a civil service imbued with a professional ethos.

(Comments are welcome at info@skoch.in)

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