Recommendations of the Technology Advisory Group for Unique Projects (TAGUP)

Last year on February 26, 2010, the government had proposed the setting up of a technology advisory group to be headed by UIDAI chairman Nandan Nilekani for creating reliable and tamper-proof IT projects. The move came when Government of India was preparing to invest in a large number of e-governance projects UID Project.

The TAGUP was to report in the following:

  1. Human resource, including modification in government rules and procedures
  2. Appropriate placement of tasks and allocation of responsibilities within Government
  3. Contracting, commercial terms and charges including procedures for competitive bidding, pricing models and suggestions on user charges
  4. Road map from start up to going concern for each of these projects, which would also focus on legal and regulatory change, if any
  5. Technology architecture and ways for co-ordination between Centre, States and local governments
  6. Possibility of introducing Open Protocols and utilisation of open source components of other e-government projects
  7. Security challenges of malicious attacks on the system
  8. Accountability and self corrective mechanisms
  9. Protection of individual’s right to privacy with focus on safeguards in the IT systems to protect legal and constitutional rights

Mr. Nandan Nilekani, Chairman, UIDAI and Technology Advisory Group for Unique Projects (TAGUP) has recently handed over the TAGUP report to Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

The report is uploaded on the website of the ministry http://finmin.nic.in/reports/TAGUP_Report.pdf

and will help in various IT projects like

  1. Tax Information Network (TIN),
  2. New Pension Scheme (NPS),
  3. National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA),
  4. Expenditure Information Network (EIN),
  5. Goods and Service Tax (GST) etc.

Note: I feel it important for UPSC exam. Please go through the report also if you find time, its 105 pages report with good insight and knowledge

Key Recommendations:

Recommendations on National Information Utilities (NIU) :

The TAGUP report says that NIUs should be set up and they should be private companies with a public purpose.

They shall be profit-making, but not profit maximizing.

This is not a new concept and already there are examples such as NSDL (National Securities Depository Limited), NPCI (National Payments Corporation of India), and CRIS (Centre for Railway Information Systems).

  • The Group says that NIUs would make available essential infrastructure for public service and can make it possible for Government functions to be carried out efficiently, allow feasible projects to be designed, and thus foster economic development.
  • Well functioning NIUs have a net positive effect on society, like other infrastructure institutions.
  • For complex projects that depend on mission-critical IT systems, National Information Utilities (NIU) working in the spirit of partnership with Government may be put in place to handle all aspects of IT systems.
  • They would participate in high-level design, specification of requirements, proof-of-concept studies, while strategic control would remain with Government.
  • The NIUs should be financially independent and empowered to take quick and efficient business decisions pertaining to attracting and retaining talent, procurement, rapid response to business exigencies, adopting new technologies etc.
  • They should be able to get funding independently and have a self-sustaining financial model.

Other characteristics of an NIU should be:

1. Ownership share of the Government in it should be at least 26%;

2. Total private ownership within it should be at least 51%;

3. No single private entity should own more than 25% of the shares in an NIU;

4. Institutions that have a direct conflict of interest (e.g. IT companies) should not be permitted to be shareholders;

5. An NIU should not go for an initial public offering or list itself on public exchanges;

6. An NIU should be dispersed-shareholding corporations with a professional management team;

7. An NIU should preferably have a net worth of Rs.300 crore.

Recommendations on Human Resource Policies

  • Strong support from the top leadership within Government, dedicated team at the level of project implementation, and ownership and commitment at various operational levels are necessary concomitants of success of any project.
  • The Group recommended that every project should have a dedicated mission leader within the government with a mission execution team.
  • The mission execution team should be manned by personnel, who possess a diverse set of skills, including intimate familiarity with the government processes, specialization in verticals such as technology, outreach, law, as well as the ability to manage a large decentralized organization, among others.
  • The Group also recommended certain monetary and non-monetary incentives for the team.

Recommendations on Multiple Levels of Government:

  • Many of these projects span the Central, State and local governments. The group has come with distinct points for creating necessary architecture for such projects.
  • Examples are projects such as GST, NTMA, and EIN where the NIU would aid the core function, or aid carrying out a sovereign function of multiple levels of Government.
  • The projects such as NPS, where the core function is carried out by a Central agency, but co-operation among Government agencies is required for the purposes of uniformity, standardization, interoperability to maintain levels of service and drive economies of scale.
  • The group recommends that a Common minimum functionality can be built into a Common Portal, in such a way that its basic functionality can be enhanced by local customizations such as look and feel, local languages, and local policies, to mention a few. Such a design allows for low cost, scale, interoperability, speed, simplicity, a uniform customer experience, and portability of service.

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