Govt rings in transparency via e-store purchase for staff


NEW DELHI: Government employees can now hitch a ride on an Uber cab, while going for an official meeting and the department will pick up the tab. And, they will not have to worry about surge pricing.

Thanks to a marketplace for central government agencies to procure goods and services that aims to usher in transparency in official purchases, Uber has worked out a special arrangement for the government, which also enables departments to settle the dues in 90 days. Unlike an individual, government employees would have to block a ride, not through the app, but via a new portal – government e-marketplace (GeM) – launched by the Directorate General of Supplies and Disposal (DGS&D).

The portal or marketplace is another step towards streamlining government spending, plug leakages and stamp out corruption. The idea to set up the e-marketplace came from suggestions made by a panel of secretaries that was set up by PM Narendra Modi. It was immediately picked up by cabinet secretary P K Sinha, who is learnt to have sought a focus on cabs. Transport is a large part of government spending and is often mired in controversy as different providers hand out different rates.

There is also an arrangement under which new vehicles can be taken on lease for three years from various service providers. Next are deals for security personnel, housekeeping and even hotels.

“Vehicles are one area where there is no transparency with each department hiring cabs at their own rates. We are now hoping that other service providers will join the platform too,” said an official.

The government is one of the large buyers of goods and services but the Centre has no estimate of its procurement. Some estimates suggest that it could add up to Rs 10,000-12,000 crore per year, if not more. Few officials venture to deal with procurement, a messy task often lead to controversy. Vendors complain that even registering with DGS&D can take anywhere from three to six months and can result in “inspection and visits”.
Top Comment
I do not know why officials leave their office when so much technology is availble like face time Skype video conference etc. Why files have to move physically when every thing is typed on computer …. Read MoreGovind Kalaga

An official said often large companies are not among the registered vendors and there are few from the South.

Now, e-marketplace seeks to change all that – from online registration of vendors to online purchase of air conditioners, computers, printers and stationary. When an order is placed, not only can a product be compared with a similar one but prices from popular e-tail sites such as Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal are also available. “If we find that the vendor is charging higher than these sites, we can initiate action. The idea is to get the best possible deal for the government,” said an official, adding that the entire project is estimated to cost less than Rs 1 crore. There is also comfort for sellers on the platform as government departments cannot order products unless they have funds available with them, addressing concerns of delayed payments.