New Delhi: Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology’s (MeitY) is looking to find customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions based on Free and open-source software (FOSS) that it could deploy on its own platforms and use it in the future to develop other citizen-facing interfaces similar to an Aarogya Setu app or a COWIN platform.
This is to create an open-source software repository that could be accessed and used across departments, States and countries. At present, the government is working on using FOSS to find solutions in agritech, healthcare, governance and education segments. MeitY had announced #FOSS4Gov Innovation Challenge for which it has received 1,400 registrations across the country including tier-II and tier-III cities.
The winning teams will not only work with the government on its various population-scale platforms but also get cash prizes of up to ₹90 lakh to develop their solution.
Three winners will be selected in CRM and ERP categories separately. The first prize will be ₹20 lakh, the second prize of ₹15 lakh and the third prize will be ₹10 lakh.
Abhishek Singh, CEO, National eGovernance Division (NeGD) said, “The aim of #FOSS4Gov Innovation Challenge is to create awareness and promote FOSS and to also identify solutions that could be used by the government. We want to give the FOSS community an opportunity to build their own solutions especially in the CRM and ERP space which can be adopted by the government. This is the first step to build a FOSS-based govtech stack, and the repository will be available across departments, States and countries.”
MeitY is partnering with investment firm Omidyar Network India (ONI) to mentor the shortlisted teams for the programme. ONI will also be separately awarding a special prize to the team developing and integrating citizen-centric safeguard in their apps which will protect citizen’s data.
While the government is known to work with legacy IT majors to build its various platforms deploying their proprietary software, the trend is slowly shifting. Since 2016, the government is using FOSS to develop several digital services including DigiLocker, Aarogya Setu, UPI, Aadhaar to name a few.
Singh said, “Developing solutions over FOSS brings in collaborative efforts of several minds while proprietary software a fixed number of engineers from the company are working on it. There is no vendor locking. You don’t need to work with the same software forever. Whenever you are working with software companies on a digital service, every project is implemented with a finite contract of three-or-five years. Post that, you have to pay more money and go for a single source of procurement.”