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New scam brewing at BBMP, their infra website, and a simple advice

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Governance

Recent reports in local dailies suggest that there may have been bogus or excess-spend projects to swindle money at BBMP. Apparently, some works were carried out without following all procedures, and good number of such projects involved road digging or similar work along the Metro corridor (where one would assume Metro itself would have taken up such work). Anyway, nothing new there. We all know BBMP works is major source of money for many in Bangalore, 20-30% of work value is talked about as the "corruption overhead", and quality of work in most projects is also known very well.

Now, head over to another project at BBMP, a small one, which is in doldrums. Apparently, the project to build a public website to share information on all BBMP infrastructure projects is either not going well or is about to be canceled. The project, I am told, was/is being carried out with help from Karnataka Stata Police Housing Corporation (as they have done similar work for themselves during internet savvy Mr Srikumar's tenure couple of years ago).

The two developments together should tell you few things

  • They discover scams after they happen, so internal checks and reporting on ongoing works is either weak or missing.
  • Internal mis-management of data (on projects, progress, status, expenses etc) could be why they would struggle to build that public information website. Building websites is a piece of cake,. the project must be struggling because of problems in getting hold of project data in automated ways.
  • There might be objections internally on improving levels of transparency via such public websites.
  • If they share details on projects, public only can help find bogus or bad quality projects. BBMP just has to try us!

First of all, there is no need for BBMP to build fancy websites to tell us about their projects. People like us can build websites better, faster and for lot less money. All we need is raw information. BBMP, you just need to share project data with us (as in public, not just Praja website), say once a month, and public interest groups will build fancy websites to show your project details, locations or progress.

So BBMP, what simple things can you do today?

  • Provide us an RSS feed of tenders from whatever system you are using (eproc, tenderwizard etc)
  • Provide us an email alert every time any thing changes on any tender
  • Start geo-tagging all your tenders (put latitude, longitude to mention the location(s) of project)

That's it. you share above 3 things, and enthu citizens will build the public info website you have spent 2 years or Rs 50-60 lakhs (data from a Bangalore Mirror report) on.

Also, this isn't an arm-chair expert speaking, we will be more than willing to help you with any IT advise you need to be able to share your data. Just try us :)

Comments

murali772's picture

professionalisation - the need of the hour

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I had called up a certain government office yesterday to check as to why their web-site was not providing certain information that I thought they should be providing. Readers may wonder how I had the audacity to do a thing like that, knowing fully well how things generally are in government set-ups. But, most surprisingly, the official, I got connected to, bothered to go into some details and explain a few things to me. He stated that they were originally with NIC. A few months back, they switched to some "e-governance" agency (did he say - based in Hyderabad?). Things didn't work out well there too, and they are now back with NIC. This interruption led to the dislocation, and if things go well, they should be set right in a few weeks. But, of course, the question remains as to how better the NIC is going to be handling the account this time around. Doubtful, if you ask me, considering the 'masterly' job they are doing for the Election Commission.

But, the problem apparently is that they can engage only government agencies.

Pranav - you perhaps stand a chance since you have an ID as 'silkboard'. But, if you ask me, I don't think they should be taking up your offer, however competent your team may be, since this has to be seen as a professional job, with the vendor being totally accountable for the service. And, for that, the vendor has to be time tried agency, enough of whom we have in our own Bengaluru doing similar and more complex things for governments the world over. The central government has quite accepted that - the Passport office engaging TCS, and Aadhar also tying up with one such biggie, are cases in point.

And, the importance of these functions, for lack of which we have massive and repeat scams, justify the marginally higher costs.
 

Muralidhar Rao
silkboard's picture

BBMP needs a CIO

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@Murali - certainly do not believe on pro bono gigs (for full fledged IT projects), can't do them either. I am only interested in getting data on their projects/operations because its in our interest. And for this, 1) as a citizen, can help in supplying requirements, or 2) as an expert as well as well-wisher, can help review the work/progress.

#1, we all should do, no disagreement there. But #2 - only becasuse they need help, and I don't know how else to help them.

Talking about use if IT by BBMP in general:

  • BBMP needs to hire a CIO like person, to enact a mini version of GoK doing UID via an industry expert. Making BBMP use IT to improve its internal functions, and also engage better with us is not a small job as many think. And good work done here would be so replicable at other cities in Karnataka.
  • Or, GoK should fund an IT/egovernance experts-cell, which will be sort of like a CIO-pool that can be shared by all depts of GoK.

Probing BBMP about use of IT is in our own interest because use of IT helps to increase transparency (besides other benefits).

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