Thursday, December 30, 2010
Most of us are of the opinion that usage of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in public sector is still in infant stage. Whether the government has sufficiently used ICT to deliver the services efficiently is a debatable topic. However, studying e-governance and ICT related projects under Government of India while preparing for civil services exam and after joining the services, what i have realized is penetration of technology in government is far greater than what most of us would think.
Civil services (IRS) training which began few days back reminds me of my Entry Level Training Programme (ELTP) in IBM Software Labs. Way back in 2005, I thought government sector could never beat the standards being set in private sector, at least in the training domain. E-governance initiatives in our training academy are far more futuristic than what i had imagined. In the academy, the e-governance initiatives deserve lot of appreciation.
National Academy of Customs, Central Excise and Narcotics (NACEN), is the Apex institution for training the IRS (C&CE) officers. "NACEN has taken a number of initiatives in the recent years for improving the training quality. It's state of the art website is rated as the top website amongst all National Academies of India. (I didn't like the UI though!). The most striking feature of the website is its hundred percent dynamic modules. [NACEN Quarterly]".
"In order to ensure the quality of the training, the online feedback module was developed which captures the feedback and suggestions of the participants and generates an automatic email to the trainer. All the Probationers (trainee officers) are registered with the website and they apply for leave online, discuss important issues amongst themselves and with faculty of the academy and ask questions from experts. The polling module helps the academy in conducting poll on any important issue while the SMS module sends important information to probationers and faculty within no time. The Attendance module captures the attendance of probationers and the punctuality is ensured by Biometric Attendance System. All the lecture halls of the Academy are connected with state of the art CCTV cameras which provides real-time 360 degree high resolution video of training, live in the room of Director General [NACEN Quarterly]."
After getting to know about all these initiatives in the academy, in my own interest, i had a small opportunity to have a glance at the back-end system which does all this. Trust me, it was nothing short of a well planned system. It is designed in such a way that trainees and faculty, with little bit of curiosity in computers and technology, can make the best use of it. Having said that, i have no hesitation in admitting that, User Interface (UI) would have been better, but the system still works better! I feel they should have given little more importance to UI aspect.
I guess this is just an example of one small entity of the government. Initiatives undertaken by National Informatics Center, National e-governance service delivery system, India portal, India Development gateway, etc, would reflect the spread of ICT in the system of governance. If you think government sector is no better user of technology, think again!