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TCS Upset Over Govt’s Decision to use Postal Staff at Passport Centres

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has expressed concerns regarding the government’s decision to utilise postal department staff as citizen service executives at post office passport seva kendras.

The decision was in contravention of the provisions of the master services agreement signed between the company and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on October 13, 2008, TCS said.

According to sources, TCS wrote a letter to the MEA in February, raising its concerns. The company said according to the agreement, TCS was in an exclusive outsourcing arrangement with the MEA for all passport-related services. The company also cited a pre-bid clarifications document dated November 2007, which mentioned that other bodies engaged by the MEA would only use the passport portal for providing services, including online applications and appointments.

TCS bagged the project to operate passport seva kendras in 2008. The project was launched under the public-private-partnership (PPP) model. While the MEA handles all sovereign functions, TCS manages the data centre and disaster recovery operations.

However, since 2017, many post offices have also started operating as passport seva kendras, and according to latest information, 214 post office passport seva kendras are operational in the country.

The postal department and the MEA are in talks to open more such kendras.

TCS’ concern is not about opening of post office passport seva kendras, but utilising postal staff as citizen service executives at such kendras. Postal department officials confirmed to Business Standardthat their employees were indeed being utilised at post office passport seva kendras, and MEA officials had trained them.

A TCS spokesperson said the company was working closely with the MEA to transform passport services across India. “Currently there are 93 passport seva kendras in 79 cities helping the MEA to deliver passports in a simple, reliable, efficient, and transparent manner. TCS enjoys the trust of the MEA and during the last seven years, has processed over 60 million passports,” the spokesperson said.

The company, however, did not comment on the concerns raised by it regarding post office passport seva kendras.

“TCS will not be able to comment on the issue mentioned by you due to the confidentiality clause and our commitment to privacy policies with our partners,” the spokesperson said.

According to sources privy to the TCS letter, the company said it made heavy investments in the programme, and a change in the project characteristics severely impacted its costs and revenue.

Sources in the government, though, are of the view the exclusivity clause relates to the private sector and that no private entity other than TCS will be involved in the project. But the government is within its rights to utilise the services of its departments and manpower for the project.

TCS also said in the letter it was committed to the success of new post office passport seva kendras, but in accordance with the terms of the agreement. – Business Standard

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