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3 Days to Passport

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DQI Bureau
New Update

A common mans visits to the passport office are more often than not marred

by uncooperative staff, long waiting queues and unruly crowdsand if this was

not enough, the touts waiting outside the office to pounce on him makes him drop

all thoughts of pursuing the matter any further. Even if he gives up and falls

into the tout-trap, his passport takes at least a month to be delivered.

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But one cannot always blame the passport office staffthe number of passports

issued went up 2.2 times between 1997 to 2007, and by 2011, the demand would go

up to 1 crore. So have the number of passport offices gone up proportionately?

No. There continue to be thirty-seven offices, putting considerable strain on

manpower and infrastructure, leading to inevitable delays and headaches.

However, the Central Passport Organization managed to increase output and issued

about 50 lakh passports in 2007 as compared to around 35 lakh in 2005.

Even though most passport offices are fully computerized, there is a growing

need to make available services like real-time online tracking of status of

applications; an effective enquiry and grievance redressal system; digital photo

capture; and biometric passports.

It is to address issues like these and many more that the Indian government

decided to launch the ambitious Passport Seva Project. The objective behind

the project is to deliver all passport-related services to citizens in a timely,

transparent, accessible, and reliable manner; and in a comfortable environment

through streamlined processes, says Dr TV Nagendra Prasad, director (PV) &

project director (Passport Seva Project).

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The project is the second Mision Mode Project under the National e-Governance

Plan (NeGP) after MCA 21. The project is a service delivery transformation

project where it involves complete paradigm shift in service delivery experience

of passport applicants, says Tanmoy Chakrabarty, vice president & head,

government industry solutions Unit, Tata Consultancy Services.

The Passport Seva Project was conceived in the second half of 2006 for a

comprehensive reform of the passport issuance system. And following the

cabinets approval of the project in September 2007 through an open tender

process, TCS was selected as the service provider of the project.

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The entire project is being implemented on the Public Private Partnership

mode with TCS making the investments upfront on all non-strategic

infrastructure, software development, training, and change management. TCS

meanwhile would be paid on a quarterly basis by the MEA after fulfilling the

twenty-eight SLAs including customer friendliness, cleanliness of the premise to

technical aspects.

Elaborating on the role of TCS, Chakrabarty says that as the prime IT partner

of the project, we would be involved right from building applications to

setting up secure data centers, disaster recovery centers and call center for

applicants.

Salient Features



With the first phase expected to be completed by January 2010, four pilot

Passport Seva Kendras (PSKs) would be established at Chandigarh, Bangalore and

New Delhi. Under the project, TCS would be required to open 77 PSKs across

India. In all 77 PSKs, customer service and satisfaction would be the key

factor, says Chakrabarty.

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And once the project is completed, new passports would be issued in three

days time while in cases requiring police verification, within three days after

the completion of the process.

Explaining the design of the project, Prasad says that it ensures that only

support functions like improving citizen interface, managing technology

backbone, call centers, training and change management would be provided by TCS.

While the government would continue to exercise all sovereign and security

related functions in the passport issuance process. The MEA is in the process

of setting up a Special Purpose Vehicle to manage and exercise strategic control

over the operations of the project, he adds.

Considering that most passport office employees have to perform under

pressure handling large workloads, the project has taken into account these

concerns and includes a productivity-linked incentive scheme for the employees.

Police verification would be expedited through electronic linkage of the

district police headquarters with the passport seva portal.

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On the technical front, the project envisages creation of an all India data

center, disaster recovery center, and networking between all passport offices

and an electronic file system for passport processing running nationwide across

the entire organization.

Security Aspects



In the past, incidents of terrorists getting passports issued from Indian

passport offices have jeopardized the nations security and have also put a

question mark over the passport offices credibility. With the launch of the

Passport Seva Project, the same. A lot of thought has therefore gone into

addressing the security concerns.

The entire data of the Passport Seva System including personal information

including the biometric information of applicants, would be residing in the data

center and the disaster recovery center which would be located in the premises

belonging to the MEA. And the operation of these centers would be under the MEA

through a project management unit.

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As PSKs are the extended arms of the Central Passport Organization, they

would be headed by a senior officer of the CPO at each center. TCS would only be

responsible for handling visitors and capturing data relating to passport

applications. Activities like document verification, indexing and granting would

be done by the same government employees who are doing this now, using advanced

IT tools. There would be partitioning of the LAN at each of the PSKs between the

officials of the CPO and the operators of TCS. Also, government counters in PSKs

would be in an area distinctly marked for them from private counters of service

providers.

The sensitive function of handling blank passport booklets would also remain

with government employees. The data coming into TCS at the time of submission of

application would be used only to feed into the database; thereafter the data

would no longer be available to the TCS staff.

Benefiting the Citizens



Considering that most of us have had to spend anywhere around 1-2 months

running around the passport office and more often than not giving up in the

process, one of the single biggest advantage of the Passport Seva project would

be saving of the citizens time and effort.

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Moreover, there will be service provisioning within defined service levels,

availability of portfolio of on-line services with real-time status tracking and

enquiry including payment of fee on-line, an effective system of grievance

redressal, and a strict adherence to first-in-first out principle in rendering

of services.

For the passport office employees too, the project would bring in uniform and

simple work procedure, skill enhancement through training, better

accountability, incentives for higher productivity, increased promotion

opportunities, et al

Stuti Das



stutid@cybermedia.co.in

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