Building Capacity Key to E-Governance
In the course of executing e-governance projects one of the key challenges that is noticed is the scarcity of personnel with fitting skills within the government. Furthermore, there is dearth of institutional framework to handle these projects. It is often experienced that the central and state governments are trusting heavily on outside consultants to handle this capacity gap. To successfully implement e-governance projects, what is required is comprehensive capacity building across key areas relating to policy making, institutional arrangements, access to professional expertise and outcome monitoring.
Although capacity may be defined as an organization’s ability to achieve its mission and to sustain itself in the long term, from a national prospective, it refers to the structures, systems, policies and organizations which are helping it to achieve its defined vision. Accordingly, capacity building is a long-term, continuing process, in which all stakeholders participate. It is much more than training and includes human resource development, organizational development and institutional and legal framework development.
For an inclusive capacity building in the area of e-governance, it is essential that capacities of all stakeholders are enhanced. Institutional capacity building is one which refers to development of new institutions like National e-Governance Agency (NeGA), State e-Governance Mission Team (SeMT), Project e-Governance Mission Team (PeMT) etc. The institutions being created have to be developed from a national perspective. Then comes the stage of government capacity building as it is the central to all functions in e-governance. And therefore, the internal capacity building of departments where e-governance is getting implemented, including that of Department of Information Technology (DIT) and Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DAR & PG), is very important. When these departments are talking about the capacity building of the whole government, they too need to adopt the capacity building endeavours.
Here, the project management capacity building is of utmost importance. The National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) is split into 27 Mission Mode Projects (MMPs). Therefore, it is very important that these projects are managed with the professional competency. The MCA21 of Ministry of Company Affairs and Passports of Ministry of External Affairs are the two MMPs which have seen establishment of the Project Management Units (PMU). National Institute for Smart Government (NISG) has played a crucial role in the project management capacity building and is currently associated with all key MMPs. Then, it comes consultant capacity building, as the role of consulting organizations has become very crucial in the e-governance capacity building. These consulting organizations include corporates like Wipro Consulting, IBM Consulting, PWC, KPMG, Delloite, Ernst & Young, Capgemini, 3i, IL&FS etc. which are helping the central and state government departments in areas of preparation of Request for Proposals (RFPs) and process mapping. PWC, as consultants, have played a very crucial role in the study of existing processes and advising Business Process Reengineering (BPR) to the government in the two MMPs– MCA21 and Passports.
With the rising need for professionals in the area of e-governance, it is very important that academic institutions must give emphasis on the crucial areas of governance and e-governance. Most of the management professionals have to interact with government departments and therefore, it is very crucial that the subject of Government is taught in academic institutions. It is
observed in many cases that the hired consultants do not even understand the simple hierarchy in Government like the Secretary, Additional Secretary, Joint Secretary, Director or Under Secretary. Institutions have to build their focus on teaching
Government as a subject as the same will help their students in their businesses later. With regards to e-governance, there are very limited institutions like IIM-Ahmedabad, IITMGwalior, TAPMI-NISG that are offering courses in the area of e-governance.
Research is another field where the capacity building is required in area of e-governance. There are very limited organizations like Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC), Media Lab Asia (MLA), Microsoft Research Lab (with NISG), IBM Research Lab, Oracle–HP e-Governance Center etc. in India which are exploring e-governance research. With the exception of Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu there is very limited material available on the e-governance research capacity building at the state level.
Likewise, legal capacity building is another requirement for e-governance in India. There are key legal changes that have been introduced in the Companies Act while implementing the MCA21 project. These legal changes can be specific to a particular project or can be general in nature like the e-Government Act or Amendments to the IT Act. There are few individuals whose work on cyber-law in India is available in public domain.
Another important need is to build the requirement of Systems Integration (SI) organizations like TCS, Wipro Infotech, HCL Infosystems, 3i Infotech etc. The government must also look into areas as to why organizations like Infosys, which have contributed heavily in banking financial services and institutions (BFSI) sectors, are still not prepared to get into government space in India. The system integrators have to ensure that their professionals are not only technologically sound but also sound on government processes.
Fund and Support
Funding agency capacity building is an area that requires utmost attention. The key task at the funding agency level like the World Bank, UNDP, USAID, DFID etc. is to ensure that there are professionals who can do an appraisal of the project proposal for funding and visualize the impact of the project in years to come. It has been felt in many cases that the projects funded by many multilateral agencies are non-existent at ground level. The funding agencies must ensure that the projects funded by them have a sustainable business model and do not meet their death once the grant is stopped. Management support organisations too, have a role to play here. The MCA21 project and Passports projects have clearly indicated the need for a management support organization to look into the needs of managing the citizen service centre. Besides, it has been observed in many cases that technology organizations drive the whole e-governance initiative. Organizations like IBM, Oracle, HP etc. have to look into their internal capacity building wherein their professionals can suggest solution to various requirement of governments from their existing stacks and international experience.
Meanwhile, citizen awareness is the key to success of any e-governance MMPs. In MCA21, project training was imparted to chartered accountants. In passports, it is visualized that training of travel agents may be necessitated. Besides, the citizens who are directly interacting with government have to be made aware on the changes that may be required in the changed environment. The government should also ensure that the NGOs which have demonstrated delivery at the village level are further strengthened. Amid all these capacity building measures, the government must ensure that media is educated on the various e-governance initiative in the right spirit, as a single biased article in a newspaper or magazine can lead to lot of problems for the champion of change.
Last but not the least, there are certain people in the country whose names have become synonymous with e-governance, such as former Telecom Secretary R Chandrasekhar who is known to have initiated the National e-Governance Program. Similarly J Satyanarayana former Telecom Secretary who is currently advisor to Andhra Pradesh government on IT and e-governance, and Prof. Subash Bhatnagar- advisor to IIM Ahmedabad’s Center for e-governance, have carved a niche for themselves in the given area. The government must ensure that services of such individuals who are committed for e-governance are taken in right direction.
The success of e-governance initiatives will largely depend on the kind of individuals selected to implement the initiatives. The government also needs to strengthen its existing institutions especially the Electronics and IT development corporations in various states. It also needs to come up with HR policies that are catalyst in retaining the best talent within the government. Also, there is a need to establish an institution of excellence which may teach e-governance.
Bottom-line of all this is that mere development of e-governance strategies and induction of technology will not help deliver the quality of services envisaged unless human resources are aligned to provide the right services to the right consumers from the right sources with the right tools at the right time.