In keeping with the Government of India’s mandate to implement e-governance in Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), the Government of Odisha’s Housing and Urban Development (H&UD) Department has initiated several steps to improve citizen services. The ‘Orissa Urban Local Bodies Automation System’ was one such initiative.
The broad objective of this project was to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the interaction between local governments and its citizens, as well as other interest groups in the non-profit and the private sectors. The project also aimed to boost internal government operations to stimulate and support good governance.
With the help of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), the Odisha government developed an e-Municipality Services solution, a centralised integrated application that provides ‘Single Window’ services to citizens on an anytime, anywhere basis. The project automates the tasks undertaken by the municipal bodies of Odisha, and provides access to ULB officials to carry out their activities. With this, the government has brought 107 ULBs under a single platform.
TCS designed and implemented a centralised solution using an open-source framework and an Oracle database, hosted on the Odisha state data-centre. This is accessible both through Odisha State Wide Area Network connectivity and through broadband. The comprehensive solution for the ULBs covered IT infrastructure, data digitisation, end-user training, as well as application development and maintenance.
Citizens could avail of municipality services — such as obtaining birth and death certificates and trade licenses, paying taxes and water charges, and filing grievances — from the ULBs, common service centers (set up by the Odisha government), or online via the Internet. Some of the value-added features provided were:
- Direct registration by health institutions to record births and deaths
- Digitally signed certificates
- Email and SMS notification on each step of service provided
- Barcodes for certificates and receipts
- Introduction of double-entry accounting system in the ULB’s Manual (OMAM)
The government deployed the Municipal Management Information System (MMIS) to provide a single and integrated view of the ULB along with timely and reliable management information. Here, TCS built dashboards to provide a comprehensive view of the current status of the municipality, from the clerical level right up to the Chief Secretary level.
For ease of understanding and maintenance of SLA standards, a work list was provided to every user level, based on requirements. What’s more, the e-Municipality initiative continued to provide enhancements such as integration with GPRS-based handheld computer devices to improve revenue collection from trade licences and taxes.
The Odisha e-Municipality Services solution has significantly improved citizen service delivery, transparency, accountability, and responsiveness in ULBs in the state. The project has simplified the interaction between the citizens and the state government, and has helped boost the state’s image as one of the few offering e-governance at a municipal level. More than 2,000 users have used the application, and more than 300 health institutions have issued around 650,000 birth and death registrations via the solution.
This has also resulted in 100 per cent improvement in revenue collection, from Rs 20-22 crore annually per ULB pre-solution, to around Rs 40 crore per ULB annually after the solution was implemented. This increase has been in revenues generated from trade licences, property and other taxes.
Apart from revenue collection, this has resulted in reduction in time taken for grievance redressing, from an average of 10-15 days earlier, to approximately two days now. It has also improved the turnaround time for improvement in municipal services by up to 80 per cent; for example, birth certificates, that used to take 5-6 months earlier, are now issued within 5-7 business days.
The government has taken robust security measures such as the use of digital signatures and bar-coded certificates. Meanwhile, due to this project, the government has witnessed an increase in productivity of almost 60 per cent among ULB staff, as well as improved IT orientation.
This greenfield project was not without its challenges. Requirement-gathering was difficult due to the vast gap between the new system-oriented architecture and the existing processes. To counter this challenge, associates from the project visited the various locations and assimilated requirements from the end-users themselves; TCS then discussed the feasibility with the H&UD Department and re-engineered the processes to yield maximum productivity. Data entry was outsourced to local vendors so as to facilitate faster and smooth entry and validation of the data.