(Online Course) Pub Ad for IAS Mains: Chapter: 11 Techniques of Administrative Improvement – E-governance and Information Technology (Paper -1)

Paper – 1
Chapter: 11 (Techniques of Administrative Improvement)

E-governance and Information Technology

E-Governance is the public sector’s use of information and communication
technologies with the aim of improving information and service delivery,
encouraging citizen participation in the decision-making process and making
government more accountable, transparent and effective.

India is currently experiencing an information explosion, thanks to the dramatic
advance of Information Technology which is sure to affect various aspects of
life, including Public Administration. The very concepts of structure and
processes of management are already undergoing significant changes under the
impact of IT. More significant, however, will be its impact on administrative
culture. The fantastic advances made every day in IT have been a culture shock
to the typical Indian administrator in the 1990s, notwithstanding the fact that
there is roughly a gap of quarter of a century or so between the first
appearance of some technological innovations in the West and its adoption in
India. The government and administration in India began to think seriously for
adopting IT only in the 1990s after accepting the policy of liberalisation.

Today with the help of the wireless Internet, any information can be reached
anywhere in the world within minutes.

IT and Administrative Culture

Each culture uses its own technology and each technological revolution brings
forth its own culture. The interface between technology and culture is complex
and interesting.

The major impact of IT on the economic sectors of the developing countries is as
follows;

  1. A more dynamic economic and social fabric is made possible by networking and
    flexibility, which are factors in mobility and innovation.

  2. For business, ICTs represent an importance source of growth potential, with
    falling transaction costs and positive externalities that are a result of shared
    services and shorter channels.

  3. Quality of life improvements with increased freedom in managing constrains of
    time and place of work.

  4. The development and acceleration of exchanges which facilitate mutual
    enrichment in terms of know-how and expertise.

  5. The creation and reinforcement of growth poles that generate added value in
    telecommunication and IT and in other sectors such as transport, finance,
    retail, education, health care and media.

  6. Creation of new high-value jobs, in particular with the emergence of new
    professions and expertise in as yet untapped areas.

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IT and Good Governance

Public Administration, in general, and governance, in particular, is at
crossroads and so are governmental organisations in India. Process of governance
cannot remain unaffected by powerful winds of change and the trust of IT
revolution sweeping the globe.

The agenda items of good governance are as follows;

  1. Enhancing effective and efficient administration;

  2. Improving quality of life of citizens;

  3. Establishing legitimacy and credibility of institutions;

  4. Making administration response, citizen friendly, and citizen caring;

  5. Ensuring accountability;

  6. Securing freedom of information and expression.

  7. Reducing cost of governance;

  8. Making every department result-oriented;

  9. Improving quality of public services;

  10. Improving productivity of employees;

  11. Eradication of corruption to re-establish credibility of government by
    ensuring integrity of individuals;

  12. Use of IT-based services to de-mystify procedures and improve the citizen
    government interface.

Information Technology is of great help in achieving the objectives of Good
Governance. The areas of application of IT are as follows:

  1. Urban Services: Development of on-line integrated information and monitoring
    system for delivery, accounting compliance, and payment for services­like water
    supply, electricity, telephones etc. Citizens in the urban areas should be able
    to obtain and submit electronically all forms for any service or clearance from
    the government. It should be possible for them to pay their bills
    electronically.
     

  2. Compliance and Payment of Taxes: It should be possible for a citizen to pay
    taxes and duties of all kinds electronically. Filing of returns on account of
    income tax, sales tax, house tax, etc. need to be facilitated through the use of
    IT. This would reduce, if not eliminate, the need for a personal contact with
    the government officials and the consequential manipulation.
     

  3. Filing of Complaints: A common citizen feels harassed if lie is required to
    visit a Police Station to lodge a complaint or a FIR against any violation of
    law. Things would be different if such complaints can be lodged electronically.
     

  4. Managing Traffic on Roads: Traffic violations and alleged attendant
    corruption/payoffs represent some of the most glaring forms of bad governance. A
    hand-held electronic card reader-cum-reader-cum-recorder along with electronic
    speed sensors should do the trick of punishing the offenders of traffic laws.
     

  5. Development Projects: Application of 11′ based models for planning and
    execution of development projects at the nationals. State district, and village
    levels would help ensure significant achievements with minimum time and cost
    over­runs. Benefit to rural masses would be tremendous through increased
    production, productivity, and marked access.

Appointment and Transfer of Personnel

It is possible to use IT to ensure transparency and complete objectivity in
appointment, posting and transfer of employees. Large scale appointments for
skills oriented jobs can be fully automated. In spite of availability of
transfer guidelines issued by a department from time to time, there is ample
scope for using ‘discretion’ or ‘judgement’ for favouring any applicant. It is
possible through the development of a computerised system to ‘generate’ a
priority list for transfers on the basis of a ‘weighted’ score computed as per
the transfer guidelines. The system can identity applicants who are eligible for
transfer and then put them in order of priority through weighted score. Though
complete transparency and strict objectivity can be ensured by the computerised
system by ‘numerating’ the weights and scores in the transfer guidelines, there
would be no scope for ‘compassion’ or ‘other considerations’.

Improving Citizen-Government Interface

There are a large number of areas representing interface between IT and
governance. Highly professional systems for communication, information and
control can be successfully designed and implemented for benefit of the society.
Some of them are in areas like:
Integration of passport, driving license, ration card, income tax
identification, voter identification, etc. into an electronic (SMART) CARD that
can serve the purpose of being a citizen card.

  • Registration of Vehicles.

  • Monitoring of traffic violations through the SMART card.

  • Public Distribution System.

  • Immigration information and monitoring.

  • Management of Public Health.

  • Water and power supply.

  • Property Taxes.

  • Monitoring of primary education.

Importance of Training in IT for good governance

There is urgent need for imparting high quality, professional level, training
for electronic governance. The training has to be imparted to the working
government officials. In addition to series of short-term awareness and skill
oriented courses, a programme on e-governance at the masters’ level of 12 months
duration on a full-time basis would be required for government officials. The
focus should be on IT applications in management of public systems.

Important Features of IT Enabled Governance

Investment on IT products and services has to be trated not as expense or cost
saving, but investment for future growth. It is an investment in the vision for
the future. It should provide open access to citizens with data owned by public
as much as by the government.

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