Is doorstep delivery model the real solution?

Doorstep application to public services and welfare schemes is a bad idea for digital India. It is another effort of improving the channel instead of core issues. Any augmentation of application submission and citizen interaction methods will fail due to poor quality of delivery of services. If someone doesn’t get pension on time, it doesn’t matter how smooth and wonderful application process was. Further, it will have an adverse impact on the economy of the country due to increase in cost of service applications to Government.

Doorstep delivery is the process of booking an appointment with government representative who will visit the applicant home and help them with form filling, fee payment & document collection. Then the representative will submit the document at the concerned government officials, which would post the certificate or licence once issued. People have already moved away from manual processing of application to mobile application across all the industry, I.e. over 300 million JIO connections were issued without paper trail or physical application, then what’s the need of this model?

Three major factors ascertained by the Government for having doorstep service application and delivery are:

Factor 1: Internet not easy to use.

Government points out that “internet is not an easy medium for everyone to use; many are not tech-savvy enough.”

We can easily imply that on an average every family in India possess a smartphone. So, the basic ground for the introduction of this scheme itself was on wrong assumptions and poor understanding of the problem.

Factor 2: Increasing number of middlemen or touts between the government & the citizens

The main root cause that gave rise & power to the middlemen is the cumbersome government process. Even after the launch of doorstep delivery scheme these middlemen are active & working because the opaque system makes it difficult for the citizen to know the current status of their application & the reason for the rejection, in case the application is rejected. Such people again find their way through these middlemen. Clearly deducing that the real problem is not the delivery of the service/scheme but the process & opaqueness.

Factor 3: Save the time of people, who usually takes 3-4 visit to get their work done.

With the emergence of Digitalisation & ease of using it, doorstep delivery cannot be considered as a next step in the ongoing digital movement. Large number of people are nowadays comfortable buying clothes online without any need of any interaction with the agency, won’t it be better to make this process completely digital: cashless, paperless and faceless. So, a person can apply for any service, any time, anywhere and without any involvement of any government representative. This is what many developed countries like Australia, Korea & Denmark are doing, allowing citizens to access all government services digitally ensuring that the government is easy to deal with; informed by citizens; and fit for the digital age.

Amalgamation of technology & governance has proven to be fast, precise, transparent, cost effective and time saving for the government & citizens. The major issue in the current delivery system is the opaque, slow and ineffective process. So, instead of hitting at the backbone of this problem- transparency in application processing, are we not hitting at the wrong place? Foundation stone of the process needs to be effective and transparent which will eventually lead to overall development & growth of the process.

On day one of the Doorstep Delivery, 2,728 callers managed to connect the call, out of which 1,286 calls were answered yet 624 appointments were blocked. While on the second day, over when 11,000 people got connected only 3,472 calls could be answered(4), which shows the individual success rate of both days at 47% & 31.5% and also the 15.5% drift effectiveness of the program on the second day itself. The situation deteriorated day by day with the increasing number of call drops & currently after several attempts, call cannot be connected. This scenario resulted in sinking off the people’s excitement and the hope for effective & timely service delivery.

Now the crucial question standing in front of us is how to make the public welfare process effective when thousands and lakhs of people are ready on hand to grab the benefits of digital governance? The answer to this question is with government only. IRCTC. PASSPORT. INCOME TAX RETURN. PAN CARD. These government platforms simplifies the process of acquiring and accessing data and help power the backend and exposing their API to private companies through bidding, thus channelising their focus & expertise on delivering value to your customers. The improved API quickly respond to the queries, simple to implement, track daily growth, economical & regularly updated. For instance, the baseline of new IRCTC is “ You just focus on your user experience. We take care of the backend.”

When we have a success story in front of us, where the mere focus on backend improvement not only created a cost-effective process but also generating $15.7M annually. Why can’t we achieve this milestone? We just need a different approach, an Intelligent technology to integrate public demands & government deliveries with optimum utilisation of resources to create a transparent, effective & efficient governance model.

The views and opinions are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of EasyGov. All information provided is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity.E

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