Note: As of September 10, the websites of Technical Education and Information & Public Relations were down. However, they were added on September 12; The website of the Department of Youth Resources & Sports has been showing ‘Under Maintenance’ for some time and not listed. Among others, while the Department of Planning & Coordination and Arts & Culture do not feature in the list of department websites on Nagaland State portal, they are listed here. While attempt has been made to present the data in a precise manner, omission and commission cannot be rule out. Read full list in the report.
Most department websites lag in proactive disclosures
Dimapur | September 10
The Department of Taxes has topped The Morung Express’ assessment of the departmental websites of the Government of Nagaland with an overall score of 43 points out of possible 50.
The assessment were based on six parameters - Departments’ Own Information; Data Quantity and Quality; Sou Motu Disclosures; Public Notices & Tenders; Latest News & Updates and Direct link to Social Media. (See Backgroung & Methodology Below)
Of the six parameters, the Department of Taxes’ website obtained full points in three, while the scores were top-end in others, except the social media metric.
Among others, Taxes was the only department with the latest Right to Information (RTI) Manual (2022-23), as mandated under the RTI Act, 2005, for disclosures by Public Authorities on a suo motu or proactive basis.
Besides, the Department’s latest Annual Administrative Report (AAR), 2022-23 was also available on the website. While the updates were regular, relevant information on recruitment, tender notices, latest data and other updated information were available on the web.
The only defect was direct linkage with social media account.
The Department of Economics & Statistics (D&ES) came second with 42 points; beaten narrowly by Taxes, as its RTI was ‘older.’ However, in terms of AAR and other parameters, both were at par.
In fact, the D&ES website is a treasure drove for data information with the latest data routinely uploaded on the website, while the archived material are neatly maintained.
Searching of data on both the Taxes and DE&S websites are user friendly and does not require deep diving.
The website of the Chief Electoral Office (CEO) Nagaland, is also another well-maintained, updated and informative website.
While it stood at third due to lack of an AAR, it was the only websites with direct link to all its social media accounts – Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), Instagram and YouTube. The platforms were regularly updated.
The Department of Information and Public Relations (DIPR) was another well-maintained and up-to-date website with valuable data collection and resources.
Among others, its ‘Naga News’ section, which is updated daily, covers news from all corners of the State. The same is communicated daily to local media outlets and the ‘Naga News’ serve as a important source of information for the press as well as the general public.
It was the second department with direct link to four widely used social media platforms – Facebook, Instagram, X and YouTube. These platforms were updated daily.
However, a AAR was not found on its website while the RTI Manual was dated 2016.
Overall, the four websites topped the assessment and bracketed under ‘Very Good' (41 to 50 points).
The Geology & Mining, Personnel & Administrative Reforms, Water Resources; IT & Communication; School Education; Tourism; Environment, Forest & Climate Change; Social Welfare and Fire and Emergency Services were slated under ‘Good’ category with most suffering either due to lack of the latest AAR or RTI disclosures.
Due to its heavy features, the Department of Tourism’s website was little cumbersome, but it is compensated by eye-catching layout and active directly-linked social media accounts.
Most of the websites had updates on activeties, with some such as School Education with ‘Latest News’ dated September 1, 2023.
The Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms (DPAR), primarily responsible for the personnel policies of the State Government, services matters, training of officials, administrative reforms, pension matters, vigilance matters, reservation in services etc, had good data resources and good updates.
But it suffered in ranking due to lack of RTI Manual and relatively old AAR.
'AVERAGE' & 'BELOW AVERAGE'
Next on the list were 8 departments under ‘Average' category - Finance, Planning & Transformation; PHED; Power; Arts & Culture; Higher Education, Technical Education and Transport.
Of these, the Department of Power needs mentioning with its active e-services, which among others, offer real-time viewing, payment, and calculation of electric bills. Its performance suffered particularly due to lack of AAR & RTI as well as news updates.
A total of 19 Departments were categorised under the ‘Below Average’ (11 to 20 Points), with limited updates and data along with lack of the latest AAR/RTI.
The were Cooperation, Fisheries, Health & Family Welfare, Print & Stationary, Rural Development, Urban Development, Food & Civil Supplies, Horticulture, Soil & Water Conservation, Land Records & Survey, Prison, Commerce & Industries, Science & Technology, Tribal Affairs, DUDA, Sericulture, Agriculture, Labour & Employment and AH& VS.
Incidentally, while the Health & Family Welfare and AH& VS has wide presence on 'X',' with the former still updating daily COVID-19 status of Nagaland and other activities, it was not linked to its website.
At the bottom were Nagaland PWD, Skill Development, Evaluation and Home, with lack of AAR and RTI, outdated data and news, being the main denominators.
During the final assessment on September 10, the websites of the Technical Education and Information & Public Relations departments were inaccessible. The Youth Resources & Sports’ website was shown to be ‘Under Maintenance.’ They were not included.
Meanwhile, the websites of Planning & Coordination and Arts & Culture are not initially listed on Nagaland State Portal but included in the assessment based on familiarity.
Background & Methodology
In June 2017, assessment of departmental and other agencies’ websites of Government of Nagaland by The Morung Express’ revealed that most were stuck in time.
In 2018, when the People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA) Government assumed power, one of the major thrust of the new dispensation was drive for transparency via technological intervention.
Accordingly, the Department of Information Technology & Communication published full page advertisement with an update on website, social media (Facebook/Twitter) and implementation of Aadhaar based Biometric Attendance System (AEBAS) by different government departments as on June 25, 2018.
Based on the websites listed on Nagaland State Portal (https://nagaland.gov.in), this newspaper made another assessment of the websites on March 8, 2019. While most websites were revived, however, many had reverted, the assessment found.
To get an update on how the digital drive is progressing after the passage of another election and new government since March 2022, this is yet another attempt, via a series of reports, to assess these websites with the objective of enabling free access to information as the foundation of transparency, accountability and good governance.
Marking a shift from previous assessment methods, which relied solely on face value, a new approach has been undertaken for the evaluation of department and agency websites. It involves the assessment of these websites based on six broad parameters:
Departments' Own Information (5 Points): This parameter involves examining components such as the 'About Us' section, organizational charts, personnel listings, structures, objectives, and related information.
Data Quantity and Quality (10 Points): The second parameter assesses the quantity and quality of data accessible on the websites, encompassing policies, programmes, projects, reports, statistics, and other relevant information.
Suo Motu Disclosures (10 Points): Transparency is a key focus in this parameter, which involves evaluating the extent to which departments make proactive disclosures under Right to Information (RTI) and Annual Administrative Report (AAR). Data currency is also considered in this assessment.
Public Notices & Tenders (10 Points): This parameter examines the availability of pertinent notifications related to policy changes, recruitment, tenders, and other public interest matters.
Latest News & Updates (10 Points): The freshness of data and information on the websites is evaluated to gauge the currency and relevance of the content.
Direct link to Social Media (5 Points): Another factor was to assess whether the websites have direct link with social media accounts. Most websites failed the test.
Each of these parameters is assigned a point value ranging from 5 to 10. The assessment of websites is conducted based on the data available as of September 10.
Subsequently, the websites are categorised into a Level-5 ranking system, with points ranging from 0 to 50. The five levels of ranking are as follows:
Poor: 0 to 10 points.
Below Average: 11 to 20 points.
Average: 21 to 30 points.
Good: 31 to 40 points.
Very Good: 41 to 50 points.
Note: This is the update version of the report published in the print edition of The Morung Express on September 11 under the headline, “Taxes tops Nagaland Government’s departmental digital initiative assessment.” The status of the Department of Technical Education and Information & Public Relations websites, which were not available during the initial assessment on September 10 are reflected here. The website of the Department of Youth Resources & Sports has been showing ‘Under Maintenance’ for some time while the website of Department of Law & Justice is neither listed on the Nagaland State Portal nor shows up on search engine. Both are not included. Last update September 14, 2023.
This is the part-one of a series on assessment of digital governance of departments and agencies under the Government of Nagaland.