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Progress in India’s Government E-Marketplace

Image credit: Press Information Bureau

The Minister of Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal, recently reviewed the progress of the Government e-Marketplace (GeM) portal. According to a press release, among several other things, various functionalities of the portal, as well as the timeliness in procurement and delivery were reviewed in detail. Launched in 2016, GeM is an online platform for the public procurement of goods and services in India. The initiative aims to create an open and transparent platform for government officials. Currently, there are around 62,000 government buyers on the platform.

More than 95% of all the physical order deliveries since April 2022 happened on time, in the cases where online fulfilment and payment were done via GeM. While the Minister observed consistent improvement in the on-time delivery across all transaction types on GeM, he suggested that the portal should revise thresholds and add features to further accelerate delivery timelines and provide flexibility to government buyers to choose products as per their delivery needs.

GeM’s initiatives for compressive monitoring and anomaly detection in procurement, which are based on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), were also reviewed. They detect and report potential collusion and fraud. The Minister said that strong legal and punitive actions must be taken against buyers and suppliers that conduct fraudulent activities.

In addition to detecting anomalies, GeM also plans to use AI-ML to make proactive feature simplifications and product suggestions to buyers to ensure informed decision-making and savings in public spending. Significant technical upgrades have also been planned by GeM, which will enable cutting-edge use cases and improve user experience on the platform. Goyal said that the portal should bring in end-to-end online fulfilment and payment for all transactions by buyers on GeM. He also recommended improving the monitoring of delivery against timelines.

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Cooperation launched the onboarding of co-ops onto GeM. The Union Minister for Home and Co-operation, Amit Shah, announced that since GeM has been open to co-operative societies, over 300 have signed up. He stated that of the 589 on this list, 289 co-ops have been added to the platform, as well as 45 out of 54 multistate co-ops. He also encouraged co-ops to register on GeM as the portal would be key to the expansion of this sector.

According to Shah, co-ops will not be given second-class treatment, but those in the sector will have to initiate change and bring in transparency. He said that the three areas where co-ops need to be transparent are elections, recruitment, and purchasing.

The government has been developing portals and websites, similar to GeM, to facilitate government operations and digitally upskill officials, reducing human error and improving the speed and quality of public service delivery. In July, the Department of Posts launched an e-learning portal to enhance the competencies of about 400,000 rural postal service and departmental employees by providing them access to standardised training content online or in a blended campus mode. This would enable them to effectively deliver several government-to-citizen (G2C) services for enhanced customer satisfaction, as OpenGov Asia reported.

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