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www.expresscomputeronline.com WEEKLY INSIGHT FOR TECHNOLOGY PROFESSIONALS
26 September 2005  
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Cover Story

Facilitating e-governance

With several deployments in state government departments, Oracle has made substantial inroads in the Indian e-governance space, says Venkatesh Ganesh.

Imagine cabling all the government departments, supplying PCs, servers, application management solutions and then maintaining them—and more. It is an attractive proposition for any vendor. E-governance involves more than deploying PCs in government departments. At best, it is the first step towards organising vital information in such a way that it can be easily retrieved and processed further. For citizens, it is a welcome relief as they can do things like checking land records, filing taxes, and checking passport status in real time.

The goal is to enable the common man to spend the least amount of time pursuing complaints, inquiries, bills or information requests with any government department.

Moving quickly

Says S P S Grover, Senior Director, Government, Education & Health, Oracle India, “Our focus on the government vertical began two and half years ago. Even before that we were involved in this space, but it was in a reactive manner.” Earlier, Oracle was predominantly looking to sell its database suite to the government sector as and when needed.

So, apart from the fact that it is a lucrative market, was there any other major factor that prompted this decision? Explains Grover, “It has a lot to do with the fact that state governments slowly began to change the way they governed, and there was support from the centre too.”

About the time they started focussing more on this segment, states such as Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka took the lead in deploying IT for better governance. Also, there was the issue of revenue loss due to defaulters, whether it was in paying income taxes or electricity bills.

State treasuries

The Directorate of Treasuries and Accounts comes under the control of the Finance (Audit) Department, and undertakes the monitoring and supervision of the work of state treasuries which are the medium for all financial transactions undertaken by the government. Oracle has bagged projects from the departments of treasuries for the states of West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka. Remarks Grover, “The main function of the directorate is to ensure efficient financial management and timely preparation of accounts, and Oracle has helped them achieve that.”

According to Dr Bore Gowda, Director of Treasuries, Karnataka, “We disburse the state’s funds and make our payments through a network of 31 treasury offices and 185 sub-treasuries. This is a complex operation involving millions of daily transactions and approvals that require constant monitoring of the allocated budget to avoid overspending.”

The Karnataka project was called khajane, and CMC was involved in systems integration. The directorate chose Oracle’s database and application development platform, Oracle Developer Suite, to put an automated treasury management system in place.

The treasury system addressed issues regarding delays in salary and pension disbursements for state government employees. “Generally, disbursements increase at the beginning and end of the month. Earlier, the uneven cash flow would cause bottlenecks and delay payments,” Gowda informs. After the system was put in place, finances have been managed better. The system has boosted efficiencies across the department and eliminated duplicate data entry.

Continuing with the wins, Oracle has bagged assignments from the Department of Income Tax and Commercial Taxes for the governments of Assam, Bihar and West Bengal. For the government of Punjab, it is managing the Department of Sales Tax.

Delivering services to citizens

Our focus on the
government vertical
began two and half years ago. Even before that we were involved in this space, but it was in a reactive manner
S P S Grover
Senior Director
Government, Education
& Health
Oracle India

Oracle also has wins on the citizen services delivery side. It is working with eCops and eSeva for the government of Andhra Pradesh. Grover says that the various initiatives which have become part of the eCops approach include computerising registration of cases and monitoring them online. The database includes intelligence and criminal records that would contain data such as the type of offence and the criminal’s case history. Functions such as licences and permissions (which include verification services for passport applicants), procurement and human resource management are also being addressed by the company.

The Oracle Customer Data Hub solution is being used by these departments to create an integrated information architecture using Oracle’s Citizen Community architecture. “This gives government agencies a single source of citizen data making citizen-government, government-citizen and government-government transactions easier, faster and cost-effective,” says Grover.

This initiative is making crime control, law & order monitoring, and administration of various support services easier. With computerisation at the commercial tax department in Madhya Pradesh, the government is able to administer VAT successfully.

Today, people in Hyderabad can pay their utility bills through Andhra Pradesh’s eSeva project. Phani Kumar, Director of eSeva, comments, “We are using Oracle database and Application Server since 1999 for the eSeva portal. Oracle has provided us with a scalable application that handles over one million transactions per month.”

The opportunity in utilities

Reforms in the utilities sector have made an impact on how companies in this space run their business. Oracle says it has bagged a number of utility projects from the State Electricity Boards of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Bihar; the AP Transmission Corporation, the Kerala Water Authority, and the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewage Board. Take the case of the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB), whose prime concerns were to reduce billing time from five days to 24 hours. Says

U S Mane, Additional Director, IT, MSEB, “We chose the Oracle Database and Application Server for our new billing infrastructure. It had an existing COBOL-based legacy system which we wanted to integrate with Oracle. The earlier system was slow to access and had limited reporting functionality.” The automation helped MSEB reduce labour costs and speed up bill preparation and collection.

In the utilities sector, transmission and distribution-related losses are an issue. Affirms Mane, “Using the Oracle infrastructure, we are able to do energy auditing. In our case, even a reduction of 1 percent of transmission and distribution (T&D) losses will help us save approximately Rs 120 crore. We developed a system that tracks data from consumption meters installed at each distributor transformer. After measuring the output, the database measures this data against consumption from these establishments.” Once the T&D target is crossed, the system issues an alert and specifies the geographical location.

MSEB also uses the application to gather billing and usage data for business intelligence. “We can analyse consumption and collection trends for planning capacity, and can devise control mechanisms to track overdue collections, all based on factual data,” says Mane.

Another organisation that sees value in Oracle is the Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC). It wanted to increase its tax revenue, improve the utilisation of existing manpower, and deliver a quicker response to demands for all its services. Says Subhash Patil, Manager, Systems, KDMC, “The assessment of property tax service time has been reduced from over 100 days to 21 days. Secondly, the new water connections service time is reduced from over six weeks to about two weeks. Birth and death certificate service time has also been reduced from over 2 days to 30 minutes.”

Citizens are witnessing shorter queues. KDMC has deployed its e-governance solution with Oracle 9i as RDBMS and Oracle 9i AS as the Application Server. All this is a part of the Citizen Facilitation Centre’s (CFC) initiatives that has won praise from the Government of India.

Similarly, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation has managed to streamline its processes and facilitate revenue collection. According to Grover, the corporation is planning to introduce GIS systems to develop a digital spatial database using the data sets derived from navigation and imaging satellites, aeroplanes, digitisation of maps, etc.

The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is also running the Oracle database and E-Business suite. Says Amitabh Pandey, Group GM, IT, IRCTC, “We run HR, Finance, Marketing and Service applications from the Oracle E-Business suite on Linux.” Even the online train reservation service runs on Oracle’s database.

Oracle has gained a lot of momentum in the government vertical, and the company generates about 21 percent of its Indian revenues from this. With several other biggies such as Sun, BEA, Microsoft and IBM also eyeing this space, competition for Oracle will only get hotter.

Oracle’s wins
Revenue generation/fiscal management
Client Deployed by
Department of Income Tax Central Government
Department of Treasury West Bengal
Department of Commercial Taxes Assam
Department of Sales Taxes Punjab
Department of Treasuries Madhya Pradesh
Directorate of Treasuries Karnataka
Directorate of Commercial Taxes West Bengal
Bihar Commercial Tax Department Bihar
Computerised Inter-state Check Posts Gujarat Regional Transport Office
 
Citizen services delivery for government
Project Deployed by
eCops Government of Andhra Pradesh
eSeva Government of Andhra Pradesh
Sampark Administration of Chandigarh
 
Urban/rural local government
Client City/State
Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation Ahmedabad
Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation Maharashtra
Coimbatore Municipal Corporation Coimbatore
Department of Panchayats and Rural Development West Bengal
Tamil Nadu Urban Development Project Tamil Nadu
Kolkata Municipal Corporation Kolkata
 
Utilities
Client City/State
Gujarat State Electricity Board Gujarat
Maharashtra State Electricity Board Maharashtra
Kerala Water Authority Kerala
Bihar State Electricity Board Bihar
Tamil Nadu State Electricity Board Tamil Nadu
Andhra Pradesh Transmission Corporation Andhra Pradesh
West Bengal State Electricity Board West Bengal
Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board Chennai
 
Health services
Client State
Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation Tamil Nadu
Department of Family & Child Welfare, Government of Andhra Pradesh Andhra Pradesh
 
Government workflow efficiencies
Kandla Port Trust
Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation
Mumbai Port Trust
Mormugao Port Trust

venkatesh@expresscomputeronline.com

 


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