Mandatory auditing of government websites – Jammu Kashmir Latest News | Tourism

Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat
On January 22 this year, Home Minister Amit Shah released a first District Good Governance Index (DGGI) for Jammu and Kashmir. The District Good Governance Index (DGGI) for 20 districts of J&K has been prepared by the Government of India’s Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG) in collaboration with the Government of J&K. The Union Minister at the PMO, Dr. Jitendra Singh, and Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha were present when the DGGI was released. Jammu district tops the 20 districts of J&K. I congratulate the entire district administration, especially Deputy Commissioner Anshul Garg for his excellent work.
The objective of the Good Governance Index is to make an assessment of governance in twenty districts of J&K which will rank the districts and present a comparative picture which will set up a competition between the districts to work for better delivery public services and good governance. . After Jammu Doda and Samba were ranked second and third. Among the 10 districts in the Kashmir valley, Pulwama district emerged as the top performer in governance, ranking 4th in J&K. Srinagar has been ranked at number 5. Ganderbal, Anantnag, Baramulla and Kathua were ranked 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th respectively. Kupwara district in North Kashmir was ranked 10th, followed by Kishtwar, Budgam, Udhampur, Reasi, Bandipora, Ramban, Kulgam, Shopian, Poonch and Rajouri.
What is a good governance index?
The Good Governance Index (GGI) is a comprehensive substructure for assessing governance in states and union territories (UTs) allowing for the ranking of states, UTs and districts. The objective of the Good Governance Index is to create an instrument or tool that can be used, thereby making an assessment and estimation of the different interventions taken by the Union Government or the State/UT Government to ensure better governance in particular. GGI is based in 10 sectors Public Health, Environment Agriculture and Related Sectors, Trade and Industries, Human Resource Development, Infrastructure and Public Services, Economic Governance, Social Welfare and Development, Judicial and Public Security, and Citizen Centered Governance. Unfortunately, transparency auditing of government websites or proactive disclosure of information under Section 4 of the RTI Act 2005 or social media outreach are not part of GGI? According to the Good Governance Index (GGI) of 2021, twenty states improved their GGI composite scores compared to the 2019 GGI Index scores. Gujarat State ranked number 1 in the Good Governance Index from 2021 covering. It was followed by Maharashtra and Goa. Among the North Eastern and hill states, Himachal Pradesh ranked number 1, followed by Mizoram and Uttarakhand. In the union territories, Delhi topped the composite ranking, registering a 14% increase on the 2019 GGI indicators.
Website transparency audit
Section 4 of the Right to Information Act (RTI Act 2005) deals comprehensively with the voluntary disclosure of information held or under the control of government and other public authorities (PAs). The RTI Act cannot be made operational in letter and spirit without ensuring the voluntary disclosure of as much information as possible on official government websites. A few years ago, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) directed all public authorities, in its order of April 15, 2013, to provide regular auditing of mandatory disclosures under Section 4 of the RTI 2005 law by a third party. This audit will ensure better compliance with Section 4 of the RTI Act 2005 and the retention of all public information on the internet so that people do not have to seek out all the details from government offices using RTI. Why apply for RTI to get updated PM Awas Yojna -PMAY List or Old Age Pension Beneficiary List?
Why can’t Deputy Commissioners upload list of Ujjwala, PMAY, etc. recipients? of the Prime Minister on their websites? I’ve been urging DC to do this for over a year, but they have other priorities.
I would suggest that all Block and Tehsil level offices also create dedicated websites and have their official Twitter handles and Facebook pages. I would appreciate Budgam District Administration on this as all Tehsildars, BDOs, Executive Engineers, District Officers are on Twitter and many of them are also replying to people. I had actually reported this issue to LG Manoj Sinha ji last year when I met with him. GAD Principal Secretary Mnaoj Sinha had issued orders for updating websites and social media pages. Districts like Budgam have taken action on the social media front, but other districts need to act too. Budgam district needs to work more on updating its official district website as it is not regularly updated. The same goes for Kupwara, Baramulla, Anantnag and Bandipora.
Kashmir Power Distribution Corporation Ltd (KPCDL) is the most responsive public authority on Twitter that I have observed. Once you tag them with a grievance, the officers definitely respond. If the social media awareness award is to be given to any public authority, I would say the same should go to KPCDL and among the districts, Budgam district will receive this award. But unfortunately these things have not been integrated into GGI?
DoPT Directive
The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), which is part of the Office of the Prime Minister (PMO), has ordered that each ministry/public authority have their proactive disclosure record audited by a third party every year. The audit should cover compliance with proactive disclosure guidelines as well as the adequacy of items included in the package. The audit should consider whether there are other types of information that could be proactively disclosed.
DOPT management further indicates that third-party audits must be conducted annually and must be reported to the Central Information Commission (CIC) annually through publication on their own websites. All public authorities have been asked to proactively disclose the names of third-party auditors on their websites. For carrying out third-party audits through external consultants, ministries/public authorities were requested to use their plan/non-plan funds.
The Central Information Commission -CIC has been tasked with reviewing third party audit reports for each ministry/public authority and offering advice/recommendations to relevant ministries/public authorities.
The CIC has been instructed by the DoPT to carry out a sample audit of a few ministries/public authorities each year with regard to the adequacy of the elements included as well as the ministry/public authority’s compliance with these guidelines. The DoPT further suggested that adherence to proactive disclosure guidelines, its third-party auditing, and reporting to CIC should be included in the objectives of the Results Framework Document (RFD). In partial compliance with DoPT guidelines, the Central Information Commission-CIC has prepared a document titled “Transparency Audit: Towards Open and Accountable Government”. The document outlined the framework for conducting disclosure audits to verify and authenticate the disclosure of information. It seems that there were very few takers for this document.
Online RTI Requests
The J&K High Court recently ordered the creation of a portal to receive RTI requests online. A period of three months was granted to the government. In fact, the government gave me the assurance on this a long time ago, but there is always a delay.
As J&K is directly under central rule now, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) must ensure the appointment of third-party auditors in all J&K public authorities to monitor and evaluate suo-moto disclosure of information in accordance with the article 4 of the RTI law. 2005. This is actually the DoPT’s own guideline. Relevantly, the J&K government had assured the Honorable High Court of Jammu and Kashmir in Jammu and Kashmir RTI Movement v. J&K government and others that suo-moto disclosure of the information would be provided by all government departments. Our PIL on the matter was decided by the High Court Division Bench on 24th December 2018 after assurance from the then Additional Solicitor General appearing on behalf of the General Administration Department (GAD).
Conclusion
Since J&K Govt has not updated its websites and social media pages/handles even after 3.5 years of HC judgment, it is now mandatory that government website transparency audits and the social media awareness of government departments are also part of the Good Governance Index (GGI). This will not only contribute to the regular updating of websites, but also help citizens to access information online using mobile phones. Transparency auditing of government websites on a quarterly basis should be made mandatory by the government to ensure good governance and voluntary disclosure of information that will directly help citizens…..
(The author is an Acumen Fellow. He is the founder and chairman of the Jammu & Kashmir RTI Movement)