“Any time, any where” Government office
In the year 2000, Madam Qudisa Gandhi IAS and I had made the Tamil Nadu Corporation for Development of Women Ltd, into the first paperless Government office in Tamil Nadu. This was post a visit to Chittoor in AP, where my batch mate Venkatesham IAS (then Joint Collector) had created the fist paperless Collectorate in India, using a software KM-ATOM, developed by APTS (Andhra Pradesh Technology Services). Based on my telephonic request, the then MD of APTS Mr.Suresh Chanda, IAS (Telangana, 1985 batch) flew down a few days later, and ensured that his team stayed on to complete all formalities related to the installation of the software. I was fascinated by his deep knowledge, passion and commitment to governmental transformation! Needless to say, my passion for technology as a transformational tool was ignited by Suresh Chanda Sir and of course Venkatesham! We were lucky that my predecessor Mr.K.Rajaraman IAS, had provided computers to everybody on his desk in the office, and all were connected in a LAN. The newspapers, the Hindu and the Indian Express had hailed the entry of "paperless government offices"!
Since then, I have made the following offices entirely ERP driven:
- 1. Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu (ELCOT)
- 2. Tamil Nadu e-Governance Agency (TNeGA)
- 3. IT Department Secretariat (Customizing an ERP developed by NIC Delhi, and christened ‘ASSIST’ (Automated Software Suite for Integrated Secretariat Transactions)
- 4. Directorate of Horticulture & Plantation Crops
- 5. Directorate of Indian Medicine & Homeopathy
- 6. Tamil Nadu Handicrafts Development Corporation (TNHDC): Here all 12 Poompuhar showrooms across India and all 7 Production Centres in Tamil Nadu are connected via the ERP to the Corporate Office at Chennai. From CMD to the Peon, all are on the ERP. There is hardly any paper movement, except for the maintanance of the Current File. TNHDC is the only such fully ERP driven Government Organisation in Tamil Nadu currently..
It is heartbreaking to note that except ELCOT and TNHDC, in all other places either my immediate successors or others have discontinued the system. In the Tamil Nadu Corporation for Developmet of Women Ltd, it outlasted many MDs, till a senior CMD demanded paper files, and the whole system collapsed!!!Even in ELCOT, it is not done 100% these days…It is time Government enacted a law to ensure sustainabiity of innovations in Government with punishments and penalities to Officers who are intend on going back to the dark ages!
There are only two main services that Government does apart from policymaking; 1. Process the request of Citizens 2. Provide services to Citizens
Both these processes consume time, because it is done in the same old fashion that we used to do 50 years back! We still depend on the old and unedited “District Office Manual” and “Secretariat Office Manual” to conduct our office work. These manuals don’t even mention the telephone as an efficiency instrument; forget computers and Internet!
But today, things are changing rapidly. The Internet and high broadband speeds enable us to connect each and every employee on either an Internet or intranet platform. The State Data Centre (built during my time as MD ELCOT), Tamil Nadu State Wide Area Network (TNSWAN), State Portal, State Service Delivery Gateway (SSDG) and e-forms ( All set up when I was CEO, TNeGA) etc enables application software to be installed and operated remotely without interruption. If we have to provide services to our citizens fast, then our files have to move fast! So the only solution is an ERP that can connect every employee in an organization, irrespective of where he or she is. Thus an “Anytime, anywhere” Government office is possible, with the sole aim of serving our Citizens in a seamless manner, where he/she dopes not have to incur transactions costs. Government should not be seen, rather felt; The only interface between the Citizens and Government should be the Internet thus minimizing Citizen-Government Office interaction and maximizing Citizen-Government interaction, in a much more meaningful and engaging way. It is when Citizens have to go over to a Government office, that corruption and coercion happens…we can completely eradicate the menace of corruption at the lower levels by the infusion of technology.