The Excise, Taxation & Narcotics Department had been using computers for registration of motor vehicles within the province since a number of years. The original automation project was initiated in 1991 but remained largely a paper-based process with the computer relegated to being little more than a record keeping system while all tasks remained reliant on paper; including the crucial one of tax calculation. The calculation of applicable taxes for motor vehicles is by no means a trivial task, especially when the formulae change from one year to another with applicable rates differing from one category of vehicle to another. When left to the individual to perform this task, it was not possible to forecast the revenue loss that inevitably creeps in where so many individuals are involved.
An additional hurdle was the lack of a suitable communications link which forced each of the registration offices to keep isolated records. A streamlined system was needed which would obviate the manual steps as well as become a uniform method throughout all offices within the province.
When Sapphire Consulting was called in, we could not simply scrap everything and plug in an out-of-the-box package which would, somehow, become a be-all solution. An in-depth study of taxation policies and practices in vogue at the time was required.
The problems were broken down in parts so that each part could be defined and solved with targeted approach.
To begin with, a detailed study of the taxation rules was carried out to classify each and every category of vehicle and how the different classes of tax was applicable to each. Developing a formula to handle them was easier, but a more difficult route was chosen where the parameters effecting the categories could be managed via an end-user interface. This method was needed so that changes could be handled without having to tweak the underlying code constantly for every change.
Similarly, a method was needed to create a dynamic workflow based on category of vehicle as well as the physical location of the user which would manage the approval cycle of the application.
The design of the solution needed not just to define vehicle categories but also allow for changes to the same when vehicles underwent physical changes that would affect taxation classes.
The different steps that a vehicle goes through during registration, transfer and so on are not a one-window system as multiple people are involved during these steps for inspection and approval of the supporting documents. All of these were captured during the requirement gathering step so that no manual override for exception handling should be needed.
A customized solution was designed to manage the user securities where roles could be managed dynamically to allow a security administrator to grant and revoke facilities to different users. Additionally, the security system would track all changes to the roles as well as control access based on individual IP addresses.
A data network was established between all the offices of the ET&N Department. For the sake of security, it was decided to establish a point-to-point network which would be physically independent of external links rather than to connect over the public Internet. Even relying on Virtual Private Network (VPN) methods still allows the possibility of unauthorized access. Two data centers were established in Karachi to cater for disaster recovery. The Pakistan Telecommunications Co. Ltd. was tasked with providing a secure data network from each outlying office to the central data center as well as providing secure links between the two centers. Additional data links were provided to selected branches of the National Bank to allow access from those locations.
Of course, the huge record of existing vehicles could neither be discarded nor could those be forced to undergo re-entry within the new solution. A facility was developed to migrate all of those records and bring them into the uniform system.
The largest change that came about once the new solution was rolled out was that all motor vehicle taxation records became uniform throughout the province. Instead of each district having isolated pockets of information, a central recording and reporting facility became available. The activity of the whole province could be monitored and reported on a real-time basis.
Owners of vehicles who were previously forced to approach the original office forperiodic tax payment can now do so at any location or selected bank branch.
It became possible to exchange data in real-time with other organizations, such as the Citizen Police Liaison Committee for timely report and control of vehicle thefts.
The reporting of revenue collection became a real-time facility instead of being a time-delayed chore which had numerous problems associated with it.
A comprehensive program of re-training of users was carried out to instill the practice of on-line working as opposed to the previous method of manual working on paper.
The single greatest benefit was in terms of time saving when dealing with individual vehicle record. This resulted in shorter wait times for vehicle owners and a logarithmic growth in the efficiency of tax officials resulting In increased revenue.