The state government is setting up its own Centre for Smart Governance (CSG) to develop targeted software solutions to meet the needs of different government departments instead of knocking on either the door of private tech firms or the National Informatics Centre (NIC).
The centre, registered as a not-for-profit society with a dedicated team of software engineers and experts, will work independently like a private company. The Department of Administrative Reforms (DPAR) issued an order two months ago to establish the centre. Setting up CSG implies the government departments will no more avail the services of NIC, a government of India enterprise, and will also stop outsourcing projects to private vendors, as was the case till now.
According to department sources, the government decided to develop an in-house team due to issues with the existing system. With increasing demand for IT requirements from government departments, NIC is said to be unable to scale up. This, in turn, prompted the government to issue contracts to private IT firms by coughing up huge money.
While money was one factor, government agencies also faced problems with vendors moving out of the contract once the project period ended, unjustified demand for project extension, vendors owning the source code and not handing it over to departments, etc, which was even leading to unnecessary litigations. Also, the departments were finding it hard to make vendors understand the intricacies of government projects.
“CSG will be an analogue to NIC. Though it is registered as a not-forprofit society, it will charge the departments for work done. Imposing a fee is required for the centre to sustain and also it will ensure the departments value the work done,” Rajeev Chawla, additional chief secretary (e-Governance), told ET. Chawla has been appointed as the ex-officio director deneral for CSG.
The DPAR has already written to all departments asking them to approach CSG for future e-Governance projects. The government has given exemption to the centre under the Transparency Act, which implies departments can place the order without the tender process, Chawla said.
Karnataka is not the only state to shift to this kind of system. States like Telangana and Maharashtra have already developed state-run centres to implement e-Governance projects. In fact, Karnataka Revenue Department’s Bhoomi Monitoring Cell, which was originally set up to monitor land records back in 2004, has over the years expanded its horizon and even developed softwares like Parihara and recently a software for crop loan waiver programme.
Chawla said that the BMC will continue doing its work, including developing software for revenue-related projects, while CSG will help all those departments that require help in implementing IT-related projects. “We are in the process of hiring about 200 software engineers who will work for the centre. Employees will be hired on a temporary basis and they will be paid as per the market standards,” he said. However, the success of the centre largely depends on the employee turnover, ie, to what extent employees stay back with the CSG.