The World Bank supported Institutional Strengthening of Gram Panchayat (ISGP) Project was launched in September 2010 with 1,000 Gram Panchayats of the nine relatively progressive districts of West Bengal. The project proved a giant leap forward towards making Gram Panchayat, a stronger institution through intensive and multipronged capacity-building support and performance. This initiative led to enhancement in quality of service delivery, to cater to the needs of rural citizens of the state.
The entire package can be operated with the help of an android app-based smartphone that has already been distributed among the 1,000 Gram Panchayats (GPs) under Integrated Strengthening of Gram Panchayat (ISGP) Project. The mobile interface is simple and user-friendly. Uploading GIS data to central server can be done in minutes as it is linked to all operational MIS database of the Panchayats & Rural Development Department, Government of West Bengal.
The ISGP Project started out with a monitoring system for tracking Gram Panchayat level activity using paper-based monitoring formats. Data collected from the Gram Panchayat level got collated at the Block and District level and then submitted to the State Office. The State Office compiled the state level data and generated various analytical reports, which were shared with various project stakeholders for decision support.
Since most of the activities in the existing monitoring system were manual, therefore it consumed more time at every level resulting in difficulties in making the reports available on time.
- Tracking the ‘process’ followed within the ‘given time-frame’ and by the ‘designated’ personnel through the Planning, Implementation and Operation & Maintenance (O&M) stage for each investment.
- Tracking physical progress of activities through which, the assets are being created by GPs.
- Uploading the details of each step of the ‘process’ at each stage, i.e., planning, implementation and O&M, including Gram Sansad/Gram Sabha meetings (with photograph) through web-based forms and mobile device.
- Provisions for automatically capturing the geo-coordinates and actual time of shooting the photographs.
- Data from each stage of every activity to be uploaded and synchronised with the monitoring system.
- Gram Panchayat is submitting data periodically in online forms accessing the user-friendly monitoring software with drop down options.
- The software itself ensures data validation at the time of data-entry.
- Collation is happening automatically in real-time with data entry with zero error.
- Data cleaning is happening automatically in real-time with data entry. Submission of data is no longer required since the entered data would directly go into the central server.
- Reports are prepared automatically by the software and are globally accessible to all the stakeholders instantly. The software has enabled the stakeholders to prepare customised reports as and when required to track issue based or overall progress on the project indicators.
- The project stakeholders are able to access the reports in whatever form they are required by logging into the system software.
- This system has resulted in far greater transparency and accountablity in public service delivery at GP level.