May 19, 2011

Passport Office to outsource front-end operations

The front-end operations at the Coimbatore Passport Office are likely to be outsourced as part of the Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) project and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is all set to handle the front-end operations from the last week of June. Union Ministry of External Affairs has already implemented the PSK project in Bangalore and Chandigarh and in the second phase Tiruchirapalli and Coimbatore are all set to get this initiative through.
According to sources in the passport office, TCS would receive applicants, guide them and handle the process for submission of applications. However, verification of the completeness of the application form and the documents attached therein would be scrutinised by a team from the passport office led by an Assistant Passport Officer (who will head the front-end operations).
The sources said TCS would be in charge of receiving applications and guiding applicants, technical support and maintenance of the premises, while sensitive areas would continue to be handled by the passport office staff. The PSK initiative would bring in the much-required concept of “one-day visit to the passport office”, as the officials would tell the applicants the same evening as to whether their passport application forms and the supporting documents were in order and whether the passport would be issued or not. This would eliminate the anxious wait by the applicants.
Under the new system, photographs need not be affixed, image of the applicant’s face will be captured at the time of applying online as is done in the driving licence process. In addition, the new system will involve taking the finger print (bio-metric) of the applicant and incorporating it in the database. Only if the finger print tallies, the applicant will be able to apply for other services such as spouse entry, address change or renewal of passport.
The added feature is that every police district will have access to the passport server for downloading the personal particular form online and to send the police verification reports online. This will obviate postal delay and laborious paper work. This will also ensure speedy completion of procedures which are time-cosuming at present. Even passport issuance will be modernised with digital signature, sources added. The place for these front-end operations has not yet been finalised. The new system will put in place a first-in and first-out concept, eliminating the practice of issuing passports out-of-turn.

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