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Government Taps Private Sector to Run Staff Email Service

  • 07 Jul 2023
  • 5 min read

For Prelims: NICNET Services, National Informatics Centre (NIC)

For Mains: Role of digital transformation in modernizing government communication systems

Why in News?

Recently, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has approved bids from six companies - Larsen & Toubro, Infosys, Softline, Zoho, Railtel, and Rediffmail in response to an RFP (request for proposal) floated in March 2023 for the selection of a Master System Integrator (MSI) for providing email cloud solutions for the Government.

  • The government is conducting Pilot Projects to test the efficacy of these alternate email providers.

What are NICNET Services?

  • NICNET is a satellite-based nationwide computer-communication network, that is a type of Wide Area Network (WAN).
  • It is run by the National Informatics Centre (NIC), which is a part of the MeitY.
  • NICNET has institutional linkages across all the Ministries /Departments of the Central Government, State Governments, Union Territories, and District administrations of the country.
  • The current NICNET e-mail service, hosts government email addresses ending in @nic.in and @gov.in, is distributed across many mail servers located at various NIC Centres.

What Are the Pilot Projects to Test the Efficacy of Alternate Email Providers?

  • Microsoft Office 365: Microsoft is conducting its email testing services on 7,036 email users in the railways.
  • Zoho: Zoho, the cloud-based software company, is performing test runs on 6,825 email users in Ministries like MeitY, the Department of Technology, and the NIC itself.

What is the RFP issued by the Digital India Corporation?

  • It outlines the requirements and specifications for a robust cloud-based email solution.
    • Cloud-based email solution provides email hosting and management on remote servers that are accessed via the internet. Cloud-based email solutions offer a flexible, scalable and cost-effective alternative for businesses and individuals.
  • The RFP focuses on data security, privacy, and the use of advanced technologies.
  • It plays a pivotal role in involving the private sector in managing government email services.
  • The RFP ensures that the email solution is hosted within India's boundaries for data sovereignty and security.
  • It emphasizes the use of Artificial Intelligence models to detect phishing and prompt notification of cyber-attacks.
  • The RFP is part of the government's initiative to enhance its communication systems and facilitate digital transformation.

Note: Digital India Corporation is a not for profit Company set up by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Govt. of India, under Section 8 of Companies Act 2013.

What are the Benefits of Private Sector Involvement in Government Email Services?

  • Enhanced Expertise and Resources:
    • The government recognized the expertise and resources offered by the private sector in managing communication systems effectively.
  • Improved Efficiency and Productivity:
    • The government aims to enhance the efficiency and productivity of its internal communication processes by involving private companies while ensuring a robust cybersecurity mechanism and cloud security.
  • Digital Transformation:
    • The move aligns with the government's agenda of digital transformation and modernizing its communication systems.
      • This project aims to migrate nearly 3.3 million government employees registered on NIC to an email service hosted on a secure cloud, providing them with a range of office productivity tools, collaboration features, and services such as video conferencing and chat.
  • Scalability and Flexibility:
    • Partnering with private companies allows the government to leverage scalable solutions that can accommodate its large workforce and evolving needs.
  • Digital Sovereignty and Security:
    • The government emphasizes hosting email services within India's boundaries for data sovereignty and enhanced security. The use of AI models and prompt notification of cyber-attacks contribute to strengthening security measures.

Source: IE

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