ePASS is ICT enabled web based Government-to-Citizen and Government to Government service, administering the online transfer of scholarship money to around 25.5 lakh Below Poverty Line students belonging to the bottom of the pyramid, studying in 1200 different professional, degree, post graduate courses and reimbursement of tution fee of these students to 12000 colleges in 60 universities spread over urban and Rural areas of 1100 Mandals in 23 Districts of Andhra Pradesh. It is an efficient and effective e governance tool helping in minimising corruption and ensuring transparency, fairness, equality, speed and economy in service delivery.
VISION: The broad vision is to give G2C, B2C ,G2G services in fair and speedy manner thereby minimising corruption and ensuring transparency. To achieve this all the stakeholders’ inputs are taken and a low cost, fail safe, ICT based e governance tool ‘ePASS’ is evolved that involves four Government Departemts like SC (Scheduled Castes) Welfare, Tribal Welfare, BC (Backward Classes) Welfare and Disabled Welfare. Sanction of Scholarships to the students of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes is one of the important welfare measures of the Government aimed at their educational upliftment. The Government of Andhra Pradesh is providing financial assistance to the Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe, Backward Class, Disabled, and Economically Backward Class students studying post matriculation courses on saturation approach to enable them to complete their education. The scholarship is paid in two parts - RTF and MTF RTF: Reimbursement of Tuition Fee in full for students pursuing post matric courses approved by the University/Board. This fee is paid to the colleges MTF: Maintenance charges or Mess charges are sanctioned and paid to the students The main thrust is to give these services in a strategic and inexpensive manner.
• Speed - simplify the sanction process. sanction the scholarships within a given time-frame. The simple and user friendly workflows in ePASS help the District officers to quickly process the appplications and pay the scholarships.
• Fairness and equality – The student applies online without interference from any one and the onward proceesing of the application happens automatically without any individual discretion. Once the sanctions are given by the District officer, the sanction proceedings and the bills are auto generated based on the fee structure available in masters. So students studyinng in the same college, same year and same course get the same fee and all the students who applied are given scholarships unless they are disqualified for sanction due to the following reasons - o Students belonging to the categories other than SC, ST, BC, EBC and DW(Disabled). o Whose parental income is more than Rupees One lakh. o All Students pursuing the part time courses, online courses. o Students admitted under Sponsored seats, Management Quota seats. o Students drawing the stipend more than the scholarship amount in aggregate per annum. o Students of BC, EBC and DW students studying the Courses offered by open universities, distant mode, category B seats in MBBS, BDS. o EBC students studying Intermediate or equivalent courses
• Transparency: Information on the processes being followed, the colleges and their fee structure is available in the website. The names of the students /colleges to whom reimbursement of scholarship has been made are also available in website. The status of each application and the details of fund transfer are available for the students and the colleges in their individual logins. Further they can also find out from phone by calling the PMU centre.
• Accountability: Details of personnel and officials involved in implementation at each stage are being logged into the system increasing the accountability. Time lines for each stage of processing are set in and strictly monitored. Alerts in the individual logins and exception reports to higher offficials help in stramlining the administration.
• Efficiency: The computer based acceptance of applications ensures that it is complete in all respects and transaction based reports is helping in improving the efficiency of the system. As the information is readily available in web site and a call centre is established at PMU, the field officers are getting quality time to concerntrate on their inspections and increase their output.
• Savings and convenience: Middlemen are eliminated. Application by the student is directly received online and sanctions are given as per as per time schedule. There is no need for personal follow-ups thus saving on the time, effort and money needed for such trips to the offices . The application is web based. Students can browse for information from their place of stay and irrespective of location or time all the stakeholders can seek information and offer their feedback for further improving the system.
GOALS: The final goal is to ensure that each Below Poverty Line student belonging to any of the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Bacward classes, other Backward Classes or Disabled category doeasnot discontinue higher studies due to lack of finances.
Prior to the introduction of the ICT misappropriation, embezzlement, fictitious claims, irregular and irrational drawals of scholarship amounts by certain unscrupulous persons resulted in depriving of scholarships to genuine SC, ST and BC students. With the intention of providing scholarships on time to genuine SC, ST and BC students and also with a view to plug the loop holes in the existing procedure and to streamline sanction, drawal and disbursement of Scholarships, online tool ePASS was developed. Every eligible SC/ST/BC/ Disabled Student studying Post Matric Courses in any recognized Post Matric Educational Institution applies Online in the prescribed format for scholarships within one month from the date of admission into the Educational Institution. The students can submit their applications on-line from the respective e-Seva Centers/JKCs/any Internet Center / Mandal Computer Center in MPDO Offices / TW and SW Residential Schools/ASWO/ATWO/ ABCWO Office etc. The student write s his/her SSC registration No. and name in the application format as recorded in SSC certificate. One hard copy of the application along with computer generated acknowledgement with necessary certificates viz., (i) Income Certificate issued by the MRO for all the courses, (ii) Integrated Caste Certificate issued by the MRO, (iii) Photo copy of the Ration Card of the parent or Electoral Roll Number of the parent (iv) the Education certificates from SSC including TC of previous college and (v) Bonafide Certificate issued by the Principal of the concerned Institution are submitted to the Principal where the student is studying. They have to give their savings bank account number so that the sanctioned amount can be directly put into his account. Through the work flow the application is forwarded to the concerned Principal. After the principal certifies that the student is studying in his colllege, the application is forwarded to the field officer, who verifies after inspecting the college and recommends online for sanction of scholarship. The District officer sanctions the scholarships and generates the proceedngs and the bill that has to be sent to treasury. He prints the bill and submits in treasury office, wherein the bill is passed and payment made. The District Officer while presenting the bill beore treasury simultaneously uploads the bill to ePASS server and from there the bill is sent to treasury server through web service. At the treasury the District Treasury officer after scrutiny and passing the bill, disburses the amount to the indiviual student and college accounts through online internet banking. At every stage of the process the stakeholders can login and know the status of the student application and the payment details. Apart from core monitoring reports given in the individual logins, The dashboard and the general reports help in monitoring the programme on day today basis.
The project mainly focuses on students. They are able to get the scholarship directly into their accounts. They are able to concentrate on studies and as the status of their application is available on internet at the click of a button they need not run around the offices. Indirectly their parents are benefited since they are able to send their children to higher studies without any worry about finances. The officers at all levels are also benefited as the workflows in the ePASS application are user friendly and decision enabling. The reports are transaction based and they need not waste their time in preparing the reports. These reports help them to monitor the programme efficiently.
During the year 2009-10 25.50 lakhs students were given scholarship. Upto the first week of September 177,559,469 Euros of tution fees and 65,534,623 Euros of Maintenance Fee has been disbursed to the students.
Since the entire expenditure is traceable to the student/ college, time and date, incidents of fraud, misappropriation are immediately identified and tracked down to the responsible persons. This has helped greatly in putting remedial measures in place and minimizing fraud.
Several validations are in built into the system so that same bill cannot be passsed twice. Thus around 158,603 Euros have been saved by detecting duplicate claims by the students/ colleges.
The maintenance amounts is transfered to the Saving Bank Accounts of the students with a facility for drawal of amount by the students through ATM/Bio-Metric Smart Cards.
In the earlier system of payments, once the the scholarship was sanctioned it took nearly 3 months for the amount to reach the account holder. Now after introduction of web service from ePASS to treasury server in June 2010, the amounts are credited directly into the account of the college/student , thus reducing the payment cycle to 10 days from the day of sanction.
Direct payment into bank accounts, increased accountability and transparency and reduced risk of corruption have raised the perception of good government among citizens.
Perosnalised services through call centre and help desk at PMU has helped to reach out to the students and colleges when ever they do not have aceess to internet and immediately need information