The Bihar Government's annual Budget preparation has been exposed to serious 'computer risk' following the refusal of the National Informatics Centre (NIC) to provide maintenance and service support to its software deployed for this purpose.
The NIC, which functions under the Union Information Technology Ministry, has informed the Finance Commissioner that it would not provide support to its Budget software unless the state government makes a long-term commitment to the NIC and its software. This effectively means that if the Budget software faces any glitch, the NIC will not rectify it.
This position has been conveyed through a letter sent to the Finance Commissioner on Thursday by NIC's Senior Technical Director and State Informatics Officer Saurabh Gupta. In the missive, he has also questioned the government's logic in expecting the NIC's assistance when it had already decided to engage a private company for providing software support.
When contacted, Gupta confirmed he had dispatched the letter detailing the NIC position. This was in response to a communication from the Additional Finance Commissioner (AFC) asking the NIC to continue providing software support for the next several years. "Our reply has been drafted in consultation with the Director-General of the NIC," he told HT.
The NIC, he confirmed, had also declined AFC's request for deputing a software expert to assist the government in the Budget preparation exercise by ensuring that the software ran smoothly. "We have made it clear that owing to paucity of skilled manpower, we can spare our experts only if there is long-term commitment from the government," he said.
Other sources said private sector experts had been commissioned to keep the NIC's Budget software going ahead of the state's Budget, slated for presentation in less than two weeks. But the suspense over the software's performance persists considering hiccups in the Patna main treasury last month could be corrected only after NIC's intervention.
Reached for his reaction, Deputy Chief Minister-cum-Finance Minister Sushil Kumar Modi said he was unaware of NIC's letter. "All I can say is that if there is any problem with the Budget software, the government will find ways of dealing with it," he told Hindustan Times.
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