Open Letter to the Finance Committee: UID Budget

Posted by Prasad Krishna at Feb 16, 2011 12:15 PM |
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This note presents the aspects of the UID project, which have not been considered or incorporated into the UID’s budget. The costs include re-enrollment, loss in human time, and the cost of the audit function.
  1. Cost of re-enrollment
    In the report 'Biometrics Design Standards for UID Applications' 1 a pilot study in India concluded that about two to five per cent of the people did not have viable biometric data. These data have not been taken into account when setting the program budget. Over time biometrics modify, thus re-enrollment will be required. The UIDAI states that given the changing nature of biometric data – biometrics would be collected every five years for children and every ten years for adults. The current project does not give us a clear picture as to what extent the re-enrollment will be required, and how the additional costs will be accounted for.  
  2.  Cost of loss in human time
    A time motion study is a tool used to enhance business efficiency and ensure cost effectiveness by reducing the number of motions in performing a task. In their budget, the UIDAI has accounted for the salaries of individuals associated directly with the UIDAI. The UIDAI has not accounted for the loss in human time that will take place by individuals whose daily routine will be impacted by the UID. If a time motion study were to be done only on the UID project, one would find that individuals not paid by the UIDAI, lose potential wages due to the unpaid time they must dedicate towards the scheme – or that businesses will be forced to compensate for the extra time required for each transaction by providing additional personnel. For example: On a train the number of train masters present is calculated according to how many individuals each ticket master can check and process. With the UID, in order to prevent fraud around subsidized train tickets , individuals on the train will have their biometrics checked and authenticated. The below diagram demonstrates how authenticating an individual by their UID and biometric incurs a loss in human time, and thus, the process of collecting train tickets will require more train masters to complete.
    Current Process:
    • Present ticket to train master
    • Train master checks identity card and identity on ticket  
    • Train master ticks ticket, and ticks his list to indicate verification
    Process with biometrics:
    • Present Aadhaar number, fingerprint , and ticket to train master
    • Train master takes a reading of your fingerprint and sends it to the central database  
    • Train master waits for approval from the CIDR  
    • The CIDR gives a yes or no response  
    • If the answer is no – the train master swipes your finger five times, and then finds alternate forms of identification 
    • Train master provides proof of verification
  3. Cost of audit function
    The bulk of the UID enabled transactions will have financial implications. Every financial transaction involves three or four parties: the person who collects the payment, the person who prepares the documentation, the person who approves the documentation, and finally the person who audits the documentation. In such a context the technology can play the role of the person who: collects, prepares, and approves each transaction. The role of auditing the transaction cannot be played by technology. The audit function is human, and the audit function needs to be worked into the project budget. 

 1 “Biometrics Design Standards for UID Applications" pg.22

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