The Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers has approved the Citizen App (Operation and Management) Directive, 2021, in a bid to provide government services and information to citizens through a single electronic platform in a simple, economical, and effective manner by prioritising the use of information technology.

The directive posted on the website of the OPMCM last week was developed in accordance with the existing Good Governance (Management and Operation) Act. As per the directive, any Nepali citizen wishing to receive the prescribed government services may submit an application by downloading the citizen app on his/her smartphone to get registered.

Upon receipt of the application, the applicant shall be provided with a one-time password. A service seeker has to enter the password along with his/her name, address and date of birth to avail the service from government agencies. The government agency will verify the authenticity of the SIM and identity of the concerned user from telecom service providers before delivering the services. If the details mentioned by the users don't match the records at the office of telecom service providers, the registration process shall be cancelled.

"If a service-seeker is a registered user of the app, he/she can submit application to receive online services. In case any fee is chargeable for the service, the amount shall be paid to the concerned government service provider agency as instructed by the app," the directive reads. No addition charge shall be levied for using the app.

Services to be provided by the ministries, departments, entities and offices of the Government of Nepal, courts, constitutional bodies, commissions and secretariats, provincial governments and subordinate agencies, local levels, universities, colleges, schools, enterprises, foundations, boards, committees, authorities, companies, missions and other agencies may be connected to the app with the approval of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. Even the agencies of private sectors can provide services through the app. It requires the concerned government service provider agencies to accord high priority for service delivery through the app. "The service provider agencies shall be responsible for maintaining privacy details and information of users in accordance with the existing laws," it reads.

The OPMCM may seek the help of Nepal Telecommunications Authority, other telecom service providers, National Information Technology Centre, and provincial and local levels for operation, management and maintenance of the app. The directive stipulates an eight-member coordination committee headed by the Minister of Communication and Information Technology to maintain coordination with service providers.

Similarly, a seven-member technical committee led by a joint secretary of the MoCIT has been formed to address the technical issues of the app.

A version of this article appears in the print on July 5 2021, of The Himalayan Times.