Sirjee, here’s how to get IT right…

E-Governance projects help in reducing poverty and in improving education. E-governance also brings in qualities such as accountability and transparency; accessibility and responsiveness.

We now have the RTI Act that makes information available to all Indian nationals. But there is a lot to be desired when it comes to citizen services and the associated systems and processes.

The machinery in various state governments works in silos. Each has its own system for essentially the same purpose. Why can’t we have a template with the same steps and then replicate that across the states? Why aren’t systems, under the purview of various ministries and departments, interconnected? Why can’t we have an environment that encourages tight collaboration and information exchange between various government institutions?

Many of our government websites have outdated information, limited functionality and poor design. While they offer downloadable e-forms, they do not allow you to upload/submit filled/scanned e-forms. And you can’t track the status of your application, either. Anyone who has applied for a US Visa and submitted the DS-160 form online will know what government sites ought to be like. And there are many e-governance projects that fail, due to poor project management and weak vision.

To get IT right the government needs to ally with third-party ‘processors’, outsource routine tasks, and deal with just the core decision-making processes. The technology has been proven; we just need to get everyone in government to believe in the power of IT and the benefits it can bring to the citizens of India. I am glad that is beginning to happen.

Technologies such as Open Source, Web 2.0 and Cloud can help the government save cost, streamline processes, increase transparency and improve the services that touch the citizens in our country.