PITB fails to develop websites of all government departments

LAHORE: Despite spending over RS 34 million, the Punjab Information and Technology Board (PITB) has not been able to develop websites of all government departments including administrative departments, attached departments, autonomous bodies, district authorities, special institutions, initiatives, projects, etc. in two years whereas only 93 websites were developed for government agencies, Profit learnt.

According to the details, PITB has been developing websites for Government departments since 2011, however, when the PTI government came to power in Punjab, a project titled ‘Streamlining & Strengthening Web Presence of PITB was started in 2019.

The project aimed to strengthen and streamline the online presence of the Punjab government for better information dissemination, transparency and enhanced public service delivery.

According to further details, there were 800+ Government departments and entities [including administrative departments, attached departments, autonomous bodies, district authorities, special institutions, initiatives, projects, etc.] whereas the project was approved in October 2019 at Departmental Development Sub-committees (DDSC) level and project approved cost was PKR 68.69 million.

As per documents, the initial gestation period of the project was 12 months that was later revised to 20 months till June 2021 whereas the amount released till June 2021 was Rs 34 million and expenditure was also RS 34 million whereas a total of RS 12.40 million was expenditure in FY 2019-20 and RS 25.304 million was planned expenditure for FY 2020-21, however actual expenditure was PKR 22 million.

The documents also stated that a total of 54 percent utilization of funds was done in HR head while 16 percent was done in Services Rendered to other head.

The documents obtained from a sub department of Planning and Development Board, the objectives of the project were to ensure online presence of all the government bodies and projects of Punjab as per the global web standards and improve credibility and reputations of government bodies and strengthen their role in effective public services delivery.

Similarly, it was also aimed to made it easier for the government to engage the public and disseminate the information effectively and leverage technology to provide access and automate recurring tasks.

The documents further said that it was planned to have a customized illustration ensuring effective representation of the image and functions of the departments, in line with the emerging trends of user experience and to ensure quality presentations of the content for efficient access of information required by the web visitor.

Under the project it was also aimed to improve the standard of content to be presented online and to build capacity of government bodies to produce quality content and consistently deliver powerful content and insights to the public on a routine basis without any dependency.

However, later the project was evaluated by P&D’s DG&ME and in its report the department revealed that the project objectives were not well aligned with project activities.

“The websites of all Government bodies were not developed. Only 93 websites were developed, out of which 81 new websites and 12 websites were revamped for different Punjab Government departments. No such activity designed in the project indicates improvement in credibility and reputation of government bodies and strengthen their role in effective public services delivery”.

“It needs a holistic approach to develop a mechanism that ensures effective public services delivery. As per PC-IV funds utilized i.e. PKR 12.40 million in HR pays only which indicates that hardware, logistics and utilities that are required for these HR to perform their duties. PITB already has arranged these from existing inventory. So is there still a need to buy new equipment for the project,” report said.

In its observation the report further stated that in electronic communication head PKR 3 million was expenditure for year 2020-21, which was on higher side and no vehicle was procured in the project so POL expenditure for FY 2020-21 may be justified by the department.

“The departmental websites were developed using the open source Drupal content management system (CMS). The usage of CMS for web development reduces development cost and effort.

“It is observed that most websites have a standard list of menu items and only differ in terms of home page and color scheme. Even similar color schemes and home pages exist for District Govt., DHQ, THQ and DPO offices websites. The cost of Rendered Services to others is on high end. The expenditure for FY 2020-21 is PKR 6 million, when it is translated to 93 websites it turns out to be PKR 65 thousands per site,” report revealed.

The report further stated that the visitor counter and end user feedback mechanism should be developed in departmental websites.

“Home page editing rights and templates for homepage may be available so users can edit and update home page. The website content update may be monitored periodically and communicated to administrative departments about update of contents. Once the website is live departments rarely need technical support from PITB so HR of the project may be rationalized,” report concluded.

Shahab Omer
Shahab Omer
The writer is a member of the staff and can be reached on [email protected]
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