Scanning a file comprising 50 or more sheets has turned out to be a tough task.

A government decision to introduce an electronic file management (e-file) system in Finance Department at the Secretariat sans adequate preparations has derailed file movement, delayed crucial decisions and even release of funds for various purposes all over the State.

Department sources told The Hindu here that the e-file system, part of an e-office product suite, was introduced to expedite the decision making on files electronically in order to achieve a simplified, responsive, effective, and transparent working in all government offices. The maiden experiment failed to take off as expected for want of preparedness. This workflow based system seeks to replace the existing manual handling of files with an electronic system which involves all stages, including the filing of inward receipts, file creation, movement of receipts and finally, the archival of records. It was introduced instantly without considering the practical problems in switching over to a new mode of functioning. Officers at various levels have been issued passwords for monitoring the process.

It has been working well in the case of newly created files, but once the department has to reopen or take up an old file, the problems begin. Scanning a file comprising 50 or more sheets has turned out to be a tough task.

It takes at least two minutes to scan each sheet and after scanning when the officers jot down their comments, it would be difficult to retrieve the files for a follow-up.

Hence, the employees are now forced to work simultaneously on the paper as well as electronic files.

This considerably increases the workload, delays enforcement of decisions and release of payments for various purposes. The National Informatics Commission has not yet reviewed the inherent glitches in the system, sources said.

Being the first phase of the financial year, the snag would not have much of a bearing on the functioning of the department, but if the crisis remains unaddressed, it will lead to an administrative deadlock.

For, the delay in the decision-making process and clearance of payments for major development works by March will have its impact on the functioning of the government itself. A system upgrade may take place only by next year and till then the problem is likely to persist, sources said.