Modi govt to appoint chief IT officers in all ministries, set up e-governance academy

15 Sep, 2016

In what may bring the ageing information technology (IT) systems used in government offices back to life and usher in professionalism, the ministry of electronics and IT plans to have a chief information technology officer (CITO) deputed across government ministries.

Also, to boost the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government's Digital India programme, the ministry has decided to set up a national e-governance academy with an outlay of Rs.500 crore.

Initially, a CITO will be appointed in 34 departments and ministries and they will have a dotted line relationship with IT secretary Aruna Sundararajan, according to a presentation reviewed by InfraCircle.

As has been the case for other Indian government academies, the national e-governance academy will be set up as a 'world-class training facility' for other countries as well.

The development comes at a time when the National Democratic Alliance government has stepped up its efforts to implement e-governance initiatives in an efficient manner, which will be critical for the success of the Digital India programme.

These proposals were part of a meeting between senior ministry officials and the minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Digital India earlier this month.

Also, UMANG—a unified mobile app for new-age governance—will soon be launched. UMANG has been proposed as a common mobile application or platform across India for all government services.

"The application is currently in the designing phase and it will integrate service applications for passports, income tax, health, women safety, scholarships, among others," said a senior official from the ministry requesting anonymity.

At present, the national e-governance division, under the IT ministry, is responsible for managing and coordinating all e-governance initiatives across ministries. Now with a CITO in place, plan is to have a direct line for co-ordination, said the official.

The national e-governance plan launched by the government aims to offer all government services to the citizens through an online platform and through Common Service Centers.

"We are implementing Digital India as an umbrella programme to prepare India for knowledge-based transformation into a digitally empowered society," the official added.

Queries emailed to the spokesperson of the IT ministry on 12 September remained unanswered.

Experts believe such efforts towards e-governance are much needed as access to government services is time consuming and often very inconvenient.

"However, poor Internet connectivity will mean access will be fragmented and not 24×7. This could hurt the poor most as they face most challenges in accessing services," said Mahesh Uppal, founder, ComFirst.

According to the IT ministry's website, the main thrust areas of the Digital India programme include broadband highways, universal access to mobile connectivity, public Internet access programme, e-governance through technology, electronic delivery of services, among others.

As part of its e-governance initiatives, the government has launched for involving citizens in various policymaking decisions. It will soon launch a portal—Rapid Assessment System—for taking feedback from citizens on its digital services, as reported by InfraCircle on 8 September.

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