Saturday, July 24, 2004
Transparency and Accountability in Governments and Corporates
“With e-governance, admn takes a virual leap in TN”
Our Regional Bureau, Chennai 21 June.
Tamil Nadu government’s IT Secretary, Vivek Harinarain is an empowered man these days. A new workflow tool that is used by his Department and Electronic Corporation of Tamil Nadu (Elcot) allows him to monitor every bit of work that comes under his control even from his home. The software ‘e-Administration’, connects 75 senior level employees of Elcot and 15 in the IT Department through a common platform. With this tool, Harinarain, who is also the Chairman of Elcot, has full control over the work at Elcot, while sitting in the IT Department 10 km away.
e-Administration is a step taken by the TN Government in its e-governance initiative, which could be a giant leap in terms of transparency and accountability. From routine communications to clearing files, everything is now paperless. e-Administration is developed by Chennai based software firm, Life-Line to Business (LL2B).
N Mohan, General Manager – Communications, Elcot said, “This tool has been tried and tested at Elcot. The product being web-enabled, allows the user to log-in even when they are not in office. In terms of efficiency, it has made a big difference to the users. The tool allows officers to conduct day to day business like sanctioning purchases, approving leave tours and sending files to colleagues.
V D G Krishnan, ICT Consultant, LL2B said, “The whole idea is to create transparent and efficient organization. The entire chain of command would now be connected using this tool and hence all the users, limited to their position in the hierarchy, would now know what is happening to every case that comes to government for action.
Though officials down the line at Elcot did not have much of a choice about using the tool, they have adopted it fully. Today logging into the e-Administration system is the first thing these officers do when they report to work. Infact, this also doubles up as an attendance register that will tell the bosses whether a particular employee has reported to work and if so, whether he was at work on time.
A senior official at Elcot said a strong level of dependency is already developed on this tool which can be seen as a sign of mature system put in place.
Using e-Administration as a basic tool, LL2B has also developed a customised package for the Industrial Guidance Bureau (IGB) of Pondicherry Industries department. This software connects over 20 different departments in the Union territory who have to clear any industrial licence. From water and sewerage board to pollution control board, various departments can approve or disapprove a particular project online.
In fact, Krishnan informed that the software developed for IGB will evolve into a system where the Industrialist would also be able to log into system and check the status of the project. “We have suggested to the Pondicherry government to allow users outside the government to log-in with licence application number and secure password. With this there will not be any more running from pillar to post”. He added that Pondicherry government was receptive to the idea and plans to implement in the next two months.
“For the time being the Pondicherry government posts the status of each project on its official website”, he said. The plan to allow industrialists to log-in with the application number and passwords adds security and privacy, which is missing at this point of time.
The software also allows the users to mark deadlines for every task with an add- on feature of setting reminders.
Elcot has now signed a marketing agreement with LL2B to implement the product across the country. The order of Igb was secured by Elcot and implemented by LL2B.COM Pvt. Ltd.
The marketing agreement also covers another product developed by LL2B called e-Connect.
Krishnan said, “e-Connect is a Computer Telephony Integration Tool incorporating advanced hardware and software integration technology for automating the telephone communication for any telephone line, particularly for helplines, similar to call center tool”. The tool among a host of functions, will allow managers track the time taken on each call, allowing full control over wastage of time and productivity improvement.
The agreement does not specify the revenue sharing arrangement between Elcot and LL2B. Krishnan however said that Elcot would receive 10 percent share for its efforts in marketing these products. “We have already written to many state governments in the country. The Orissa government has evinced interest in this e-Administration tool,” Krishnan said. He added that a similar implementation is explored b y the Andaman and Nicobar Island administration.
What if the state’s chief minister becomes the super-user for e-Administration in Tamil Nadu? “That could be the best thing that ever happened in Tamil Nadu on the governance front. It would mean complete transparency in the way the state machinery works,” Krishnan said.