Technology & Innovation Boosts Govt. of Andhra's Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme
In September of 2005, The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) was notified to provide a legal guarantee of 100 days of wage employment in one financial year to every rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work at the minimum wage rate notified for agricultural labour prescribed in the State, or else an unemployment allowance. The objective of the Act is to supplement wage employment opportunities in rural areas and in the process also build up durable assets.Following NREGA, the Govt. of Andhra Pradesh launched Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) on February 2, 2006 in 13 districts of the state and subsequently the scheme was expanded to all the districts by April 2008. The innovations done in the implementation processes, end to end IT utilization, use of mobile technology (e-MMS), electronic fund management system (e-FMS), Rural Standard Schedule of Rates (RSSR), payment of wages using smart cards, social audit system and concurrent social audit for transparency has kept the state in the forefront at the national level in implementation of MGNREGS. Continuing with the efforts to enhance efficiency and transparency in the implementation, continuous innovations are being carried out.
It offers four types of IT solutions. The MGNREGS software is a comprehensive and end-to-end transaction based application that ensures greater transparency and accountability for proper implementation. The transaction based software is used to issue job cards, maintain shelf of projects, generate estimates, issue work commencement letters, update muster rolls and generate pay orders. The software is now converted from ‘offline’ mode to ‘online’ mode in all the mandal computer centres. Every rupee spent, every household, every work, every habitation can be tracked using this software. They also offer MIS web reports that provide detailed information under various sections and subsections covering all aspects of MGNREGS activities. The user can access all the reports in the website www.nrega.ap.gov.in, which offers information related to employment generation and physical and financial performance. This information can be accessed at the district, mandal, village and household level. The reports generated are transaction based and the expenditure incurred per transaction can be seen through the various reports in the website. This helps in increased transparency as well as accountability in the implementation of the scheme. Every financial transaction is put in the public domain.
They have also established the Electronic Fund Management System (eFMS) with the objective of putting in place an efficient mechanism to generate transmission of funds through online money transfers. This avoids parking of excess funds and shortage of funds. This system helps in avoiding the tedious task of maintaining individual books of accounts and documents at the village, mandal and the district level.
They also offer wage payments through smart cards (biometric authentication) solutions, which was initiated to ensure that the intended wage seeker receives timely payments and that the right beneficiary receives the wage payments. The process of payments through smart cards makes use of finger print technology to issue biometric smart cards to each beneficiary at the village level. Fingerprint technology uses a person’s fingerprints to identify him/her through fingerprint scanning. Since every individual has a unique set of fingerprints, this technology is both foolproof as well as reliable. So far, 90 lakh labourers have been enrolled and issued bank accounts. IT solutions are outsourced to Tata Consultancy Services, however, in the field, the computer centres are managed by government officials.
Immediately after the implementation of eFMS, the performance of MGNREGS increased by 30 per cent in the state. The hurdles of putting a request to district programme coordinators for fund releases from state to district and from district to mandals were avoided. However, capacity building of all stakeholders involved, especially that of actual implementing personnel at mandal, acts as a major challenge. Regular requests to change the software in order to address the requirements in the field are also a hurdle. In order to tackle this, the offline mode of software is now being converted to online mode, thereby enabling easier implementation. “IT is very useful to implement programmes. This helped in the effective and efficient implementation of the programme in the state.” says Director Akunuri Murali, who is elated about winning at NSIH and proud of the recognition at the national level.
For more details on MGNRES, please visit - http://nrega.ap.gov.in