Many digital services exist just in name
People are not getting the maximum benefit from the 761 services the government have digitalised for slow servers and poor internet speed, according to a government evaluation.
A number of those services can no longer be requested online, according to the evaluation of the Central Procurement Technical Unit (CPTU) on 67 select digital services of 26 ministries and divisions.
The information was collected through direct interviews with 55 service providers at the administrative level and 340 service recipients and beneficiaries at the marginal level.
About 91 percent of the service recipients said the services still exist and the rest said it is no longer running. About 90 percent of the users are positive about digital services.
Although most of the surveyed people expressed their satisfaction with the services, they are facing different types of problems while requesting e-dockets, land mutation, e-passport, machine-readable passport, loan service, e-trade licence and health service on call, among others.
The websites through which the services can be requested are not updated regularly.
For example, on June 7, the surveyors could not get access to SID Meeting Manager, a meeting notification web application of the Statistics and Informatics Division launched in 2018.
The review of data showed many services are no longer operational because skilled manpower was not developed through training before the completion of the projects.
One such project is the e-Government Project developed by the ICT division and planning division for the digitalisation of the government office activities to ensure accountability and transparency.
The report found the project, whose implementation period was from 2016 to 2021, is not sustainable. The project is yet to be fully completed and there is a dearth of skilled manpower in running the online platform.
But the National e-Government Procurement (e-GP) portal owned and operated by the CPTU to facilitate procurement activities by the public agencies is turning out to be beneficial for its targeted users.
The portal, which has seen more than 25.6 lakh visitors so far, seemed complicated at first but now feels intuitive, according to the service recipients.
However, in the case of tender submission in the service, the system becomes slow. Moreover, the design of the service needs to be further improved; the user interface needs to be simplified and there is a need for adequate bandwidth.
Though e-passport has brought convenience to many, some are struggling to request one due to servers often being down and slow progress in the process.
Despite digitalisation, the users said they still suffer from corruption and irregularities in the passport offices.
They are also not happy with the online MRP service of the Department of Immigration & Passports due to slower delivery and ineptness of staff in providing digital services, the report said.
The users said the server of e-dockets and land mutation website is very slow and, on many occasions, their tax filing shows unpaid even after the balance is transferred.
Besides, middlemen in the land offices discourage people from taking services online and disseminating fake information, the report said.
The portal to request for no-objection certificate for multi-story buildings needs upgrading and correction as people are not getting the service despite filling in the information properly.
Those hoping to avail the e-trade licence, a digital service of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC), are often met with demands for bribes from the employees of the city corporation office, the report said. Otherwise, they make excuses to not provide the service requested online.
Besides, there is a problem with the server and the application form arrives 2-3 days after application. The service recipients said the quality of service needs to be improved and that there should be monitoring.
Since 2013, the government has given scholarships and grants to 1,089 individuals or organisations in the ICT sector for innovative/research activities. But there are no mobile numbers or emails of the grant recipients, the report said.
It is necessary to verify whether all the innovative projects for which the grants were given have actually been completed and whether their objectives have been achieved.
If the projects' objectives are not met, a huge amount of money would have been wasted, the report said.
It takes a while for Hajj pilgrims to get a no-objection letter and confirmation SMS after filling in details on the website. Many get it at the eleventh hour, according to the study.
With the view to monitoring the prices of essentials, the DSCC has introduced a digital price chart at the entrance of all kitchen markets, which all sellers must stick to.
But, according to sellers, no such board can be found. Instead, they write down the prices manually as they wish, the report found.