For the eight lakh subscribers of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation, managing their retirement savings could soon be as easy as operating their bank accounts.
Nearly 15 years after it began computerisation of its offices, the EPFO has gone back to the drawing board as it tries to take the exercise to its second phase with a central database of its members.
The country's largest retirement fund manager has now set up an internal taskforce to truly modernise its functioning and work out a roadmap for its future computerisation needs.
The committee, which will include regional provident fund officers, will review the software requirements for the current functioning of the EPFO.
But more importantly, it will also examine technology options for the next phase of computerisation.
“The deliberations may include considering the option of a central database, cloud computing and other available options,” the EPFO has said in an internal circular.
Though the report is expected to take some time, the move will fix a major technology flaw in the EPFO and help make member data more credible.
Though at present, all the 120-odd branch offices of the EPFO are computerised and have their subscriber data in an electronic format, they are not inter-connected through a central server.
“There is no centralised database and so subscribers’ data in one office can not be electronically accessed by another office,” pointed out an official.
With the initial computerisation, the EPFO has been able to provide online services for transfer of claims, but the second stage of computerisation will help reconcile members ‘ data across the country and possibly also give a unique PF account to each subscribers.
A central database will also give “anytime, anywhere” access to subscribers of their PF accounts, help reduce the transaction time and also cut down the workload of the EPFO that covers over nearly 7 lakh establishments across the country.
The EPFO had started its experiments with computerisation way back in 1999 and in 2001 launched a programme called “Reinventing EPF”.
The agency had tied up with Siemens Information Services Ltd for the exercise that included computerisation of records, distribution of smart cards and access to online accounts, as well as faster processing of withdrawal claims.
Though a partial facility was available but Siemens was later removed and in 2008, the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation hired the National Informatics Centre to take over the project.
The EPFO had started its experiments with