To meet the software needs of its various governmental departments, the Karnataka state government is setting up a Centre for Smart Governance (CSG), Economic Times has reported. Instead of looking towards private firms or the National Informatics Centre (NIC), Karnataka state government departments will work with the CSG for any software that enables governance or delivery of essential services to the state’s citizens.
The decision to develop a new team instead of going with existing vendor partners was taken by the state due to issues they were facing with existing systems such as NIC, which manages most web development work for the central and many other state governments.
The Department of Administrative Reforms had issued an order to set up an independent body and had sent a communication to all state departments asking them to approach the CSG for all future projects in e-governance.
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One of the main reasons to formally create a dedicated body is the massive digitisation wave around government services at the central and state level. This is overwhelming for the NIC, which is leading this effort.
According to the report, the state government was forced to spend a huge amount of money issuing tenders for software or website development. Apart from the money involved, working with private vendors was increasingly becoming troublesome for the state government with issues such as lack of support, demands for deadline extensions, and not handing over the source code to the government. Moreover, the government was also facing a challenge in making private vendors understand the importance and complexity of government projects.
Rajeev Chawla, additional chief secretary (egovernance), has been appointed ex-officio director general for CSG. “CSG will be an analogue to NIC. Though it is registered as a not-for-profit 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,” Chawla was quoted as saying by ET.
The centre has been registered as a not-for-profit society with a dedicated team of engineers and experts.
Chawla further said, “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,” adding that the success of the centre will depend on retaining these contract workers.
While still not a common thing at state level, Karnataka is not the first state to come up with such an initiative; Telangana and Maharashtra have dedicated state-run centres which manage all their software and web development needs.