Responding to information needs of the citizens through e-government portals and online services in India

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1 The International Information & Library Review (2010) xx, 1e10 available at journal homepage: Responding to information needs of the citizens through e-government portals and online services in India Mangala Anil Hirwade Department of Library and Information Science, Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, Nagpur, Maharashtra, India KEYWORDS e-government; India; Government portals; Online services; Citizens information needs Abstract Providing government information, services, products and transactions electronically has the potential benefit of accessibility for a wider audience, political and administrative transparency, and improved service delivery. By using e-government websites, citizens can conveniently access government information and services and gain greater opportunities to participate in democratic processes. The present study aims to evaluate National Portal of India, which provides single window access to 601 e-government portals and websites in India. A total of 1576 online services are provided by these portals responding to information needs of the citizens. Ranking of the state and union territory portals has been done based on the number of online services they provide. The paper also focuses on the digitization of documents, acts, rules and schemes of central and state government departments and their availability and accessibility through government portals. ª 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Introduction e-government (also referred to as e-governance) is in essence the application of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to government functioning in order to create simple, moral, accountable, responsive and transparent governance. Better service delivery, transparency and accountability, empowering people through information, improved efficiency within governments and improved interface with business and industry are the goals of e-governance. The National e-governance Plan (NeGP) of India has been formulated by the Department of Information Technology and address: Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances comprising 27 Mission Mode Projects and eight components. The NeGP was approved on May 18, 2006 with an outlay of 25,000 crore rupees with the goals of creating the right governance and institutional mechanisms and to set up the core infrastructure and policies. Apart from the Mission Mode Projects, three other major components of NeGP include creation of a state Wide Area Network; State Data Centre and 100,000 Community Service Centers. Now every state of India has an IT Policy in place and is involved in the development and implementation of new projects across the various departments of the government viz. land record, agriculture, finance, insurance, banking, education, etc. In September 2007, the Indian government approved a city-specific ambitious programme covering 323 cities in the country to provide e-governance services. These e-governance services enable /$ - see front matter ª 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi: /j.iilr

2 2 M.A. Hirwade Table 1 State and union territories portals. State/UT URL Andhra pradesh Arunachal pradesh pradesh.nic.in/ Assam Bihar Chhattisgarh Goa Gujrat Haryana Himachal Pradesh nic.in/welcome.asp Jammu & Kashmir Jarkhand Karnataka Kerala Madhya Pradesh Maharashtra gov.in Manipur Meghalaya Mezoram Nagaland Orissa Panjab Rajsthan Sikkim Tamilnadu Tripura Uttarkhand Uttar pradesh West bengal Andaman & Nicobar (UT) Chandigarh (UT) Delhi (UT) in/index.asp Dadra & Nagar haveli (UT) Daman &Diu (UT) Lakshadweep (UT) Pondicherry (UT) Table 2 District portals. State/UT No. of districts No. of district portals developed Andhra pradesh Arunachal pradesh Assam Bihar Chhattisgarh Goa Gujarat Haryana Himachal pradesh Jammu & kashmir Jharkhand Karnataka Kerala Madhya Pradesh Maharashtra Manipur Meghalaya Mezoram Nagaland Orissa Punjab Rajasthan Sikkim Tamilnadu Tripura Uttarkhand Uttar Pradesh West Bengal Andaman & Nicobar Chandigarh Delhi D & N Haveli Daman &Diu Lakhadweep Puducherry Total % citizens to: get birth and death certificates; pay property taxes, water and power bills; and submit building plans online, anywhere anytime. (Gupta, Kumar, & Bhattacharya, 2004). Providing government information, services, products and transactions electronically has the potential benefit of accessibility for a wider audience, political and administrative transparency, and improved service delivery. By using e-government websites, citizens can conveniently access government information and services and gain greater opportunities to participate in the democratic processes (Fang, 2002) because they can access government information and services anywhere and anytime. The time spent in traveling and waiting is reduced. Apart from that, online services are normally faster and more accurate than traditional services. From the government s point of view, the more citizens use e-government, the more operation and management costs are reduced. The majority of the citizens who visit an e-government web site have four main motives (Kutluoglu, 2010): Learn about something (information services) Apply for something (downloadable forms) Pay for something (e-transactions) Complain about something

3 Responding to information needs of the citizens through e-government portals in India 3 Table 3 Category-wise analysis of online services. Department No. of services % G2C (government to citizen) G2B (government to business) G2G (government to government) G2E (government to employee) Total Research method The study focuses on the current status and online services provided by government portals in India to respond to the information needs of citizens. The paper is largely based on review of literature, both online and print. The government portals, including National Portal of India, state and union territory portals, and district portals, were observed during the study. The data for this paper have been collected from the advanced search option provided by National Portal of India during MarcheApril Literature review Defining e-government The present study aims to trace how e-government portals and online services respond these four information needs of the citizens of India. According to the World Bank (World Bank, 2005), e-government refers to the use by government agencies of information technologies (such as Wide Area Networks, the Table 4 Ranking of the state and UTs based on number of online services. Rank State G2C G2B G2G G2E Total % 1 Madhya Pradesh Himachal Pradesh Andhra Pradesh Tamilnadu e Delhi Chandigarh 69 e e e Uttar pradesh Andaman & Nicobar 50 e e e Punjab 47 e 01 e Goa Kerala Rajasthan e Tripura e Haryana Arunachal Pradesh 23 e Gujarat e Karnataka 22 e e Jammu & Kashmir e Meghalaya e e Jharkhand 18 e Lakhadweep 17 e 03 e Assam e Chhattisgarh e Manipur Orissa 12 e Uttarkhand e Mizoram 15 e e e Maharashtra 11 e 02 e Puducherry 11 e e Bihar 10 e e e Sikkim 09 e e e West Bengal 04 e e e Dadra & Nagar Haveli e 01 e e Daman & Diu e 01 e e Nagaland e e e e 0 e Total

4 4 M.A. Hirwade Table 5 State/UT Analysis of online services. Total no. of services Only informatory Service URL Download-able forms Madhya Pradesh Himachal Pradesh Andhra Pradesh Tamil Nadu Delhi Chandigarh 69 e Uttar Pradesh e Andaman & e Nicobar Punjab e Goa Kerala e Rajasthan e Tripura 31 e e Haryana Arunachal e Pradesh Gujarat e Karnataka Jammu & Kashmir Meghalaya 23 e e Jharkhand e Lakhadweep e Assam Chhattisgarh Manipur e Orissa e Uttarkhand e Mizoram e Maharashtra e Pondicherry e Bihar 10 e 10 2 e Sikkim e West Bengal e e Dadra & 01 e 1 e e Nagar Haveli Daman &Diu 01 e 1 e e Nagaland 0 e e e e Total Percentage Online payment Internet, and mobile computing) that have the ability to transform relations with citizens, businesses, and other arms of government. These technologies can serve a variety of different ends: better delivery of government services to citizens, improved interactions with business and industry, citizen empowerment through access to information, or more efficient government management. The resulting benefits can be less corruption, increased transparency, greater convenience, revenue growth, and/ or cost reductions. Timeline of e-government in India There are three phases of use of ICT in India. These are (Sachdeva, 2002): Phase I (1947e1984): Informatics-based e-government Phase II (1984e1995): Personal computer based e-government Phase III (1995e2007): Web-based e-government Citizen-centric e-government Citizens in all nations always expect creation and delivery of high quality services from their respective governments. This expectation creates pressure to government to perform. e-governance initiatives are the result of such pressures by citizens combined with the capabilities achieved through the use of ICT. e-government is defined as:

5 Responding to information needs of the citizens through e-government portals in India 5 Table 6 Ministry Type-wise analysis of online services of central ministry websites. No. of G2C G2B G2G G2E online services Central Information 2 e 2 e e Commission Central Vigilance 3 2 e 1 e Commission Ministry of Agriculture e Ministry of Chemicals 1 1 e e e and Fertilizers Ministry of Civil Aviation 2 1 e e 1 Ministry of Coal 1 1 e e e Ministry of Commerce e and Industry Min. of Communications and Information Technology Min. of Consumer Affairs, 5 5 e e e Food and Public Distribution Ministry of Corporate e e Affairs Ministry of Defense e e Ministry of Development 1 1 e e e of North Eastern Region Ministry of Environment e and Forests Ministry of External 4 3 e 1 e Affairs Ministry of Finance e e Ministry of Health and 3 3 e e e Family Welfare Ministry of Home Affairs 5 4 e 1 e Ministry of Housing and 2 2 e e e Urban Poverty Alleviation Ministry of Human 5 5 e e e Resource Development Ministry of Information e e and Broadcasting Ministry of Labour and e e Employment Ministry of Law and 2 2 e e e Justice Ministry of Micro, Small e e and Medium Enterprises Ministry of Overseas 1 1 e e e Indian Affairs Ministry of Parliamentary 4 4 e e e Affairs Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions Ministry of Petroleum 2 2 e e e and Natural Gas Ministry of Power 1 1 e e e Ministry of Railways e e (continued on next page)

6 6 M.A. Hirwade Table 6 (continued) Ministry No. of online services G2C G2B G2G G2E Ministry of Rural 2 2 e e e Development Ministry of Science and 1 e 1 e e Technology Ministry of Social Justice e e and Empowerment Ministry of Statistics and 3 2 e 1 e Programme Implementation Ministry of Tourism 1 1 e e e Ministry of Urban 3 e e e 3 Development Ministry of Women and 1 1 e e e Child Development Total Percentage Table 7 Documents, forms, acts, rules and schemes of states and UTs. State Documents Forms Acts Rules Schemes Andman Nicobar Andhra Pradesh Arunachal Pradesh Assam Bihar 1 69 e e e Chandigarh Chattisgarh Dadara & Nagar Havali e 2 e e e Daman & Diu 6 3 e e e Delhi Goa Gujarat Haryana Himachal Pradesh Jammu and Kashmir Jharkhand Karnataka Kerala Lakshadweep Madhya Pradesh Maharashtra 1 68 e e 17 Manipur Meghalaya Mezoram Nagaland e e e e e Orrisa Pondicherry Punjab Rajasthan Sikkim e Tamilnadu Tripura Uttar Pradesh Uttarakhand e e West Bengal 1 74 e e e Total

7 Responding to information needs of the citizens through e-government portals in India 7 Table 8 Documents, forms, acts, rules and schemes of central government ministries/departments. Central Government Ministries/Departments Documents Forms Acts Rules Schemes Ministry of Agriculture 08 e 04 e 17 Ministry of Chemicals & 10 e e e Fertilizers Ministry of Civil Aviation e e 01 e e Ministry of Coal e e e Ministry of Commerce & 41 e e Industry Ministry of Communications and Information Technology Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ministry of Corporate e Affairs Ministry of Defense 12 e e e e Ministry of Development 04 e 01 e e of North Eastern Region Ministry of Environment 02 e e and Forests Ministry of External e e Affairs Ministry of Finance e Min. of Food Processing 05 e 01 e e Industries Ministry of Health and e e e Family Welfare Ministry of Heavy 06 e e e e Industries and Public Enterprises Ministry of Home Affairs e 12 e 01 e Ministry of Human Resource Development Ministry of Information & 07 e e Broadcasting Ministry of Law and e e 07 e e Justice Ministry of Labour and 01 e Employment Ministry of Micro, Small e 09 and Medium Enterprises Ministry of Mines 03 e e Ministry of New and e e 18 Renewable Energy Ministry of Overseas e e 01 e e Indian Affairs Ministry of Personnel, 16 e 01 e 02 Public Grievances and Pensions Ministry of Petroleum e e 02 e e and Natural Gas Ministry of Power 02 e 01 e e Ministry of Railways 09 e e (continued on next page)

8 8 M.A. Hirwade Table 8 (continued) Central Government Ministries/Departments Documents Forms Acts Rules Schemes Ministry of Rural 13 e Development Ministry of Science and e Technology Ministry of Shipping, 05 e e Transport and Highways Ministry of Social Justice e 10 and Empowerment Ministry of Statistics and e Programme Implementation Ministry of Steel 05 e e e 02 Ministry of Textiles 09 e Ministry of Tourism 13 e e e e Ministry of Urban e e 01 e e Development Ministry of Water e e 01 e e Resources Ministry of Women and e e Child Development Ministry of Youth Affairs 04 e e e e and Sports Other Organizations 27 e e e 05 Planning Commission 10 e e e 01 Reserve Bank of India e Securities & Exchange 14 e e 07 e Board of India Department of Atomic e 01 e e Energy The application of electronic means in the interaction between government and citizens and government and businesses, as well as in internal government operations, to simplify and improve democratic, government and business aspects of governance. One of the important aspects of e-governance is the use of government web portals as an electronic medium for government to citizens (G2C) interactions. (Agrawal, Shah, & Wadhwa, 2008, p. 231) In the past, service delivery mechanisms of the government departments left much to be desired in India. Cramped spaces, shabby ambience, discourteous personnel and their chronic absenteeism, inefficiency in work, long queues, procrastinating officials, procedural complexities, etc., were some of the undesirable features in the workings of government departments. Consequently, a visit to a government department by a citizen to make use of any service used to be a harrowing experience. With the rising awareness amongst the citizens and their better experiences with the private sector the demand for better services on the part of government departments became more pronounced. The infusion of ICT has played a prominent role in strengthening such a demand. The metamorphosis in the quality of delivery of services to the citizens by the government has been more pronounced in recent years with the advent of e-government. e-government, which is a paradigm shift over the traditional approaches in public administration, means rendering government services and information to the public using electronic means. This new paradigm has brought about a revolution in the quality of service delivered to the citizens. It has ushered in transparency in the governing process; time savings due to the provision of services through a single window; simplification of procedures; better office and record management; reduction in corruption; and improved attitude, behavior and job handling capacity of personnel. (Monga, 2008) A portal is a crucial step towards the establishment of an e-government because it provides: Government services that are more accessible to the citizens and responsive to their information needs; A true citizen-centric, business-friendly and frontlineservice orientation; and An electronic single door web-based gateway to government information and services.

9 Responding to information needs of the citizens through e-government portals in India 9 Observations National portal of India National Portal of India has been developed as a Mission Mode Project under the NeGP. The objective behind the portal is to provide a single window for access to the information and services being provided by the Indian government for the citizens and other stakeholders. An attempt has been made through this portal to provide a comprehensive, accurate, reliable, and one-stop source of information about India and its various facets. The National Informatics Centre (NIC) has developed the portals for 28 states and seven union territories. The states and union territories (UT) further comprise 626 districts, out of which 566 have websites. Links have been provided at various places to other Indian government portals and websites (National Portal of India, 2010). The state and union territory portals are listed in Table 1. Each state portal carries a link for the district portals. Table 2 shows that as of March 31, 2010, a total of 566 district portals are in operational stage. Online services National Portal of India is highly citizen-centric. This portal has developed a search engine, which provides an advanced search facility. It searches the online services provided through state portals. It is observed that as of March 31, 2010, a total of 1576 online services were provided through these portals to the citizens and other stakeholders. Table 3 shows that most services fall under the G2C category (89.5%). Ranking of state/ut portals based on online services Analysis of online services of state and UT portals was carried out during the study. Ranking of the states and UTs has been done based on the number of online services they provide. The ranking in Table 4 shows that Madhya Pradesh, which is on the first position, provides 308 online services. Himachal Pradesh follows it with 234 online services. Andhra Pradesh is on third position. Nagaland does not provide any online service. It is also observed that Madhya Pradesh provides the maximum numbers of G2C and G2B services while Himachal Pradesh provides the maximum numbers of G2G and G2E services. Table 5 shows a detailed analysis of online services. The majority of online services are provided through their service URLs (92.6%) and just 7.3% of services are informatory in nature, which means that they only publish or provide information content. Approximately one quarter (28.2%) of services provide downloadable forms. Only 3.5% of services provided the option of online payments, such as Internet banking, credit cards, debit cards, etc. It is observed that Madhya Pradesh provides 25 services that allow online payments. Madhya Pradesh dominates in providing citizen-centric services and allowing online transactions. Type-wise analysis of online services of central ministry s websites Central government ministries in India have developed their websites and these ministries also provide online services to the citizens, business people and employees of the nation. Table 6 shows analysis of online services of websites of the central ministries. It is observed that the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology provides the largest number of G2C and G2B services. Government documentation The national portal has a service that offers access to various documents, forms, acts, rules and schemes of the states of India, including lists of recent additions. A search interface has been developed to access this facility. It provides a one-stop source for important documents and reports released or published by the Indian government at the central or state level. This section is continuously under enhancement. The national portal is a centralized resource for important application forms of central/state/ut governments which are required to be completed and submitted in order to access different services and apply for important certificates and licenses. Citizens can get application forms pertaining to commonly required documents such as ration cards, driving licenses, vehicle registration, passports, birth and death certificates, etc. from here. The hyperlink acts allows citizens to access the full text of all the central acts passed by the Indian Parliament since 1834 by searching the Indiacode Information System (INCODIS), a facility developed by the Legislative Department of the Ministry of Law and Justice in association with the National Informatics Centre (NIC). The Indiacode Textbase contains all the sections, schedules, short titles, enactment dates, and footnotes in every act. Furthermore, the statement of objects and reasons, table of contents, or the status of an act can also be retrieved through INCODIS. The INCODIS is a user-friendly system, through which users can look up the acts or amendments comfortably, provided they know the act year, act number, section number, schedule number, or some keywords included in the act. Rules passed by the Parliament and the State Legislative Assemblies, as well as the sub-ordinate legislations issued by the departments based on those rules and regulations, are also available through the portal. The Indian government, at all levels, announces welfare schemes for a cross section of the society from time to time. These schemes could be either central, state specific or a joint collaboration between the NIC and the states. This portal attempts to provide the citizen with easy and single point access to information about several welfare schemes of the government and their various aspects including eligible beneficiaries, types of benefits, scheme details, etc. Table 7 gives the total number of documents, forms, acts, rules and schemes which can be accessed state-wise from the search interface of National Portal of India. It has been observed from Table 7 that a total of 5832 documents, 5819 forms, 1577 acts, 955 rules and 1040

10 10 M.A. Hirwade schemes can be accessed from the single window of National Portal of India. It is observed that Madhya Pradesh leads in providing online documents (1034) followed by Mizoram (701). The largest number of downloadable forms are from Jammu and Kashmir (504) followed by Andhra Pradesh (415). Kerala leads in making the acts online (353) followed by Haryana (25). As far as rules are concerned, Himachal Pradesh (168) tops the list followed by Andaman Nicobar (137). Himachal Pradesh has given the description of 167 schemes followed by Madhya Pradesh with 140 schemes. Nagaland is the state that has none of the above facilities. Dadra & Nagar Haveli, and Daman & Diu are lagging behind in this aspect. Documents of central government ministries/ departments Documents, forms, acts, rules and schemes of the central government ministries/departments can also be accessed through National Portal of India. Table 8 shows the details. It is observed that 396 documents, 121 forms, 218 acts, 139 rules and 115 schemes can be accessed. Conclusion The conversion from government to e-government is an opportunity for governments to show their capacity to adapt to an environment of constant change. With the intelligent use of ICT and especially the Internet, governments have the unique opportunity to take advantage of the indisputable advantages that these technologies can offer, in order to achieve better and more functional government. The government portals are designed to facilitate the citizens to access information and transactions without a glitch. The Indian government has made a remarkable contribution in developing the web portals at national, state and district levels. These portals are highly citizen-centric and thus proved to be an effective instrument in responding to information needs of the citizens. E-transaction services have to be improved. The delivery of online services through government portals is an evolutionary phenomenon, and requires a change in the mindset of one and all e citizens, executives and the government in a developing country like India. With the support of the Internet, government processes can be made efficient, effective, and citizen friendly. References Agrawal, A., Shah, P., & Wadhwa, V. (2008). EGOSQ e Users assessment of e-governance online-services: A quality measurement instrumentation. Retrieved April 1, 2010, from. Fang, Z. (2002). e-government in digital era: concept, practice, and development. International Journal of the Computer, the Internet and Management, 10(2), 1e22. Gupta, M. P., Kumar, P., & Bhattacharya, J. (2004). Government online. New Delhi: Tata McGraw-Hill. Kutluoglu, U. (2010). What citizens want from e-government?. Retrieved March 23, 2010, from. Monga, A. (2008). e-government in India: opportunities and challenges. Journal of Administration & Governance, 3(2), 52e61. Retrieved March 23, 2010, from. National Portal of India. (2010). Accessed April 1, 2010, from. Sachdeva, S. (2002, December). e-governance strategy in India. apcity/unpan pdf Retrieved May 28, 2010, from. World Bank. (2005). Definition of e-government. worldbank.org/m1jhe0z280 Retrieved July 3, 2010, from.

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