The proposed Projectis an Investment Project Financing (IPF) of US$ 39.2 million with a technical assistance and a results-based financing components.The Project adopts an integrated approach to improve access and accountability, addressing both the supply-side and demand-side aspects of service delivery.Project interventions will (i) strengthen RTPS implementation; (ii) support process re-engineering in targeted services; (iii) develop Public Facilitation Centers to deliver services electronically at the block and circle levels; and (iv) promote citizen engagement. The selection of services targeted in this Project is based on government priorities, citizen consultations in underserved areas, and services of importance to disadvantaged communities.
The Project consists of two components.Component One:Technical Assistance (US$ 31.7 million)will finance activities designed to strengthen RTPS implementation; support process reforms/e-enablement in targeted services; establish Public Facilitation Centres; and create citizen feedback mechanisms.Both components will disburse against eligible expenditures upon submission of IFRs. Additionally,Component Two:Results-based Financing (US$ 7.5million) provides incentives for achieving results with respect to improving the access and accountability of RTPS services, will disburse upon achievement of Disbursement Linked Indicators (DLIs) associated with agreed eligible expenditure programs (EEPs).
Component One: Technical Assistance
This component will provide specialized technical assistance to support implementation of the government program and the achievement of the PDO. Eligible expenditures under this component are consulting and non-consulting services, acquisition of goods, training and operating cost. This component will provide funding for the following 4 sub-components:
• Sub-component 1. Strengthening RTPS implementation.
Activities under this sub-component will includethe creation of (i) a comprehensive RTPS ICT platform for automated tracking of individual service requests and appeals, actions taken by the designated officer and staff, and rule-based escalation in case of time overruns beyond the stipulated period; (ii) a Management Information System (MIS), along with institutional mechanisms, to ensure that data from the MIS is used for calibrating the implementation of RTPS, and (iii) an online portal to promote proactive disclosure related to citizens’ entitlements under the Act and procedures for accessing RTPS services, as well as allow citizens to apply for services online. The online portal will leverage, wherever feasible, the existing core infrastructure and services such as SSDG, SP and e-District; and efforts will be made to align its design with the architecture of GI Cloud initiatives (MeghRaj) of Government of India.In addition, this sub-component will finance two other activities, including(iv) capacity-building to support adaptation to electronic processing, and (v) the design and implementation of a change management strategy. Finally, the Project will support the creation ofa high-level delivery unit with adequate authorityand capacity to drive RTPS implementation across the state. The delivery unit will rely heavily on knowledge transfers from across the Indian states as well as globally particularly with regard to the reform of processes, the establishment of the delivery unit, and the implanting of new technological solutions, including an on-line portal, data mining, electronic grievance redress, and an MIS-based monitoring system.
• Sub-component 2. Supporting Process Re-engineering in Targeted Services.
Activities under this sub-component will include: (i) integration of electronic approaches to G2C service delivery with 18 targeted RTPS services initially within four Departments/Agencies (Revenue and Welfare of Plain Tribes and Backward Classes, and Transport as well as, the Guwahati Municipal Corporation; (ii) process simplification, such as delegating responsibilities to lower levels of government, reducing the number of supporting documents required to access services; (iii) improving the field verification system for delivery of selected services, and streamlining the issuance of digitally signed certificates ; (iv) the development of a quality management system within departmental delivery processes; and (v) the creation of an integrated electronic repository of government-issued certificates available online.The electronic repository would conform to IDCA standards and ISO27001 standards on security. The project will try to leverage the State Data Centre, as and when it becomes operational and conforms to IDCA and ISO27001 standards.Other services may be chosen as the project demonstrates success in re-engineering these 18 services.
• Sub-component 3. Setting up Public Facilitation Centers
Activities under this sub-component will include (i) creating about 428 Public Facilitation Centers in blocks/circles and other designated offices;(ii) equipping them with critical ICT infrastructure and reliable broadband connectivity to handle RTPS requests and deliver e-enabled targeted services ; (iii) hiring contracted staff to operate centers (two per center), and (iv) supporting other incidental costs (e.g., maintenance).This sub-component will also support the development of a Public Private Financing and licensing framework. Beyond these, the Project would explore alternative methods such as the use of Online to Offline (O2O) mechanisms , in view of the limited ICT connectivity in the state.Given that the connectivity solutions under this subcomponent focus primarily on the block and circle levels, such O2O mechanisms could play a vital role in bringing services even closer to local communities.The O2O mechanism will leverage Mobile Service Delivery Gateway (MSDG) / Mobile Seva of MietY to enable service delivery on mobile devices.In addition, Citizens would have the option to access these services electronically from a nearby Common Service Centre (CSC) with reliable network connectivity.It is expected that Public Facilitation Centers will adopt a PPP mode for delivery once the delivery of services has stabilized; services will be appropriately priced as part of a fee-based revenue model to facilitate sustainability.
• Sub-component 4. Promoting Citizen Engagement
Activities supported will include: (i) a state-wide Information and Education Campaign (IEC) to publicize the provision of RTPS Act and the procedures related to accessing RTPS services; (ii)the creation of an effective beneficiary feedback mechanisms in service delivery systems, involving the development of a mobile phone and web-based citizen feedback system with respect to individual service delivery transactions.This electronic approach for beneficiary feedback would be integrated into the ICT platform (sub-component 1) to automatically elicit feedback after the service is delivered. Such feedback will be analyzed and used to pin point specific areas for further improvements; and (iii) the establishment of a toll-free call center to provide assistance to citizens in accessing services. The call center will also register, collate and forward any reported grievances to the relevant department for resolution within the stipulated time. Information on the status of complaint resolution would be a key area of focus for the Management Information System (MIS).
Component Two: Results-Based Financing
This component aims to support the Government of Assam to implement critical public management reforms related to delivery of public services . Specifically, this component supports the Government’s Program which aims to broaden access to RTPS services particularly with regard to scheduled areas, increase the number of notified services and incentivize the establishment of Public Facilitation Centers across the state.
Disbursement-Linked Indicators (DLIs): Four DLIs have been selected for providing incentives to expand the coverage of RTPS to tribal districts; increase the number of services notified under the law; promote the setting-up of Public Facilitation Centers; and encourage the use of RTPS services by an increasing number of citizens.
# DLI 1: Increase in the volume of applications submitted on-line for RTPS services
The Project will also incentivize citizens’ increased access to services under RTPS, given that citizens are mostly unaware of the Act and how to access services under its provisions; and number of citizens accessing RTPS services is meager.
# DLI 2:Public Facilitation Centers fully operational (US$1 million).
The fully equipped and adequately staffed centers would be required to function at least six hours on all working days to receive RTPS service requests and be able to electronically deliver the targeted set of RTPS services.
# DLI 3: Access to RTPS Services expanded [in underserved areas of Assam][to Tribal Districts]
The RTPS Act has not been implemented in the six autonomous districts and formal endorsements of the Autonomous Councils would be required before an Act of the State Legislature is enforced within their jurisdiction. The Government of Assam has initiated dialogue with the Autonomous Councils to extend the coverage of RTPS Act to all these six autonomous districts.
# DLI 4: Increased number of services notified under RTPS Act
The result based financing approach would also incentivize expansion of the number of services from the present 55 services to at least 95 services over the next five years.
This project will bring in a paradigm shift in delivery of citizen-centric services with efficiency , transparency & accountability and within the Timeline as per RTPS Act . This populist measure will relieve the citizens from rent-seekers and time/travelling cost needed to obtain services and hence boost the image of the Government tremendously.