A Ministry of Finance Department of Expenditure letter dates 26th September has pulled back an earlier Office Memorandum (OM) which asked for installing computers at the residence of officers of the rank of joint secretary and above in the Government of India. The original OM was issued on 20th September. We estimated a couple of hundred officers will be affected by this order.

Why this order, we don’t know. But obviously, someone caught up on two things. First, at a time when the Government is talking about general austerity drives, expenditure on desktops at homes seems unusual and secondly, the evident wastefulness in multiple computers. By way of background, most Government officers are given or reimbursed for the following:

  1. A Desktop
  2. A Laptop
  3. A data card for the laptop
  4. Mobile phone with data connection/Blackberry

Syncing Away

In contrast, most private sector organizations regardless of hierarchy provide either a desktop or a laptop and one Blackberry to officers senior to junior. Most senior executives in turn prefer this combination…of a laptop+data card and a Blackberry. That is what they would take from their organizations for, even if they were in positions where they could award themselves additional desktops in the office and at home.

That’s because it just does not make sense to have so many machines around and syncing them all the time. Most Government officers also have huge (individual) laser printers (yes we can see HP smiling) and copiers, far more than necessary and not networked.

Obviously in many cases there are confidential documents and all that but not as many. It’s also a little unusual for so many computing devices when the Government of India itself does not recognize email as an official communication protocol. Finally, what matter are the dusty files with a little rope tied around them.