Sunday, January 30, 2011

What should Maharashtra's e-governance Policy accomplish?

The Maharashtra government is revising its e-governance policy. Lots of people have emailed and telephoned asking me what my recommendations are. So here are some points I suggest.

Purpose Statement

The purpose of this policy should be to further good governance by enabling transparency and participation of all stakeholders in governance.
In order to accomplish its purpose, the policy should also set common goals and standards in place for the e-Governance rollout in the state.

Common Goals

Within one year all government agencies in Maharashtra should:
  1. Upload data they hold onto
  2. Upload maps they hold onto
  3. Upload project information onto
  4. Upload budget information onto
  5. Upload staff directories onto
  6. Implement wiki-based file systems for decision making on
  7. Accept all government payments through a single payment gateway at
  8. List all government schemes and beneficiaries through a single site
  9. Accept all service requests and grievances on


In order to enable the government agencies to accomplish the common goals the IT department should develop, common standards for the Maharashtra government for the following:
  1. Sharing and displaying data on the
  2. Sharing and displaying maps on
  3. Sharing and displaying project information onto
  4. Sharing and displaying budget information onto
  5. Sharing and displaying staff directories onto
  6. Sharing and displaying wiki-based file systems for decision making on
  7. Accepting government payments through a single payment gateway at
  8. Listing all government schemes and beneficiaries through a single site
  9. Accepting all service requests and grievances on
  10. Privacy, security, certification, storage and archival of data with the agencies that fall under the scope of this policy.
  11. Identifying, sharing and protecting individual and business data.
  12. Multilingual access to data and websites.
  13. Mobile access to all information and transactions on
These standards should be enforced by the IT department through applications on the specified urls that will allow registered users from various government agencies to access and update the information on each of them. All stakeholders should be able to access at will the meta-information (the date of update, by whom, from where etc.) on update associated with each of the records on the websites. The applications should be developed on a high-priority basis and its beta versions be rolled out within 8 months of the release of this policy.

Capacity Building

Starting as soon as the draft version of the common standards are ready, YASHADA and other NGO's should provide capacity building workshops to all government agencies to implement and monitor the common goals. YASHADA should also create an audit and compliance cell that will audit every government agency for its adaptation of the government standards, implementation and continued use of the applications mandated in the egovernance policy.

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  • Please add that YASHADA should be responsible for all the publicity and promotion within and outside the govt of the e-Governance Policy, as it is implemented. This could include, inter alia, workshops for Citizenry, NGOs, civil servants, corporate officers, etc. Such w/s could be 1/2 long, and be conducted in the various District HQ.

    By Blogger Prof J Krishnayya, at 1:19 AM  

  • I would like to add that, as the Central Government has already laid down a policy for openness of documentation standards, this should be built directly into the first paragraph of the section on standards.

    One possible wording could read:

    "In order to enable the government agencies to accomplish the common goals the IT department should develop, in consonance with the Central government wherever possible, in order to ensure interoperability of State data with that of other States and also with data gathered and archived with the Centre, common open standards for the Maharashtra government for the following:"

    Other than this, I find two possible major areas that the State government may find it both feasible and desirable to undertake work, namely open standards in education (including use of open digital standards for all information and processes relating to educational materials and educational institution management), and an open and transparent process for purchase of materials and services via a public e-Tendering system (as used by other States).

    Finally, e-Governance is not going to be very complete and satisfactory until its effects can be reached to the farthest and most remote regions of the State, in order to ensure equitable delivery of Government services without discrimination.

    You are very likely aware that the Centre's national connectivity plan, currently being steered by Mr Sam Pitroda, limits its scope to connecting government offices in revenue villages only. Will this be a game-changer? It may merely add a new layer of obfuscation to the myriad reasons why government services do not always reach the intended target.

    I believe that a policy statement at this time must include goals and objectives for ensuring 24/7 accessible communications (including provisions for private communications, on an optimally priced basis, by grassroots organisations and community self-help projects) in every revenue village, if not every hamlet. As we know, by harnessing the efforts of initiatives like MSSRF's Jawaharlal Nehru Leadership Fellowship Program, it is possible to train and equip village level entrepreneurs with the wherewithal to provide last-mile communications infrastructure.

    Please consider widening the scope of your policy recommendations to cover this aspect.

    By Blogger Vic, at 2:11 AM  

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