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TCS set to sign passport deal

Posted by Yogesh on Saturday, 11 October, 2008

NEW DELHI: Software major Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) will sign the contract for starting the Passport Seva project, a public-private initiative to improve passport services in India.

The formal contract will be signed on October 13 by Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and TCS chief executive officer and managing director, S Ramadorai.

The contract will be signed almost three months after the ministry of external affairs had issued the letter of intent to TCS July 23, adjudging it the “best value bidder” for the project, estimated to be worth Rs 10-15 billion.

The Passport Seva project began as one of the 27 Mission Mode Projects listed in the national e-governance plan.

The ambitious e-governance project aims, among other objectives, to issue a new passport within three days and shorten queue time.

It will be first initiated as a pilot project in two cities for about eight months. After that, there will be three months of “testing” to evaluate the system, which has to be operational within 19 months of the contract being signed.

The cabinet September last year approved the seven-point plan, which includes turning the current 36 regional passport offices into back-end offices and a private service provider setting up 68 facilitation offices.

It also envisages floating a special purpose vehicle for “management, supervision and monitoring of the project”.

The tender for the project was floated last October on the basis of a report by the Hyderabad-based National Institute for Smart Government- a non-profit organisation dedicated to spreading e-governance in India.

Only eight companies submitted bids, which were opened this April. The techno-commercial evaluation of the bids then zeroed in on TCS as the “best value bidder”.

In return for better services, the private service provider will charge a fee of about Rs 200 for each transaction.

Within eight years, the number of passports issued has nearly tripled from 2.2 million in 2000 to six million in 2008.

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