Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) plans to bid jointly with CMC, a government-focused subsidiary it acquired some eight years ago, for projects worth almost Rs. 5,000 crore to set up the country’s unique citizen database. The world’s biggest citizen database being set up by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) will rely heavily on biometric and fingerprint information of the country’s 1.2 billion citizens, and would seek solution providers who can bring relevant expertise.
As reported by the Economic Times, “Whether we bid as a consortium or not will largely depend on the conditions specified in the RFP (request for proposal). If they want a single point of contact, then CMC will act as a sub-contractor to TCS,” said R Ramanan, CEO and MD of CMC. Meanwhile, multinational rivals IBM along with Wipro and Infosys are already preparing solutions to bid for the UID project, and like many other projects, TCS will face some aggressive competition.
TCS has been leveraging CMC’s relationships with different government agencies and departments in order to create a competitive government business, bigger than domestic rivals Wipro and Infosys. For instance, TCS worked together with CMC on winning the Rs. 1,000 crore e-passport project awarded last year. TCS had acquired 51 percent stake in CMC for around Rs. 150 crore in October 2001.
“For some of these projects, an existing capability and understanding brought by the age-old CMC helps them do better,” said a senior executive at one of the rival firms, which had bid for the passport project. The senior executive also added, “Training is one of the biggest bottlenecks in any government project-and this is where CMC proves an asset to TCS.”
Experts such as Alok Shende, Principal Analyst of Ascentius Consulting said that CMC does provide TCS an edge over others. “It makes sense for TCS to bid with CMC because of its experience of working on similar deals in the past. Capability is not just about having the technology do it but also the experience and the track record. This is especially important in the government sector,” said Shende.
“We have worked together on all major mission mode projects such as the MCA (Ministry of Company Affairs) e-governance project and SWAN (state-wide area network) projects in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar,” said Ramanan. Computerisation of State Electricity Boards (SEBs) has proved to be another area of opportunity for both CMC and TCS. By jointly bidding for these projects, TCS has, so far, bagged two out of the three projects awarded by the SEBs.
On the biometric front, CMC has already implemented a project for the Chattisgarh government. The project uses fingerprinting devices in combination with other technologies to establish the identity of a person and provide services such as issue of birth and death certificates and ration cards through citizen servic information. “A biometric committee has already been set up and it’s working on the details,” said Nandan Nilekani, Chairman of UIDAI.