About the client
Indirect taxes contribute significantly to the total revenue of the Government of India. The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) under Ministry of Finance, Government of India, is tasked with policy-making for the levy and collection of indirect taxes such as customs, central excise duties, and goods and services tax (GST). With an indirect taxpayer base of over 1.2 crore, the department collected a whopping ₹ 10.71 lakh crore in indirect taxes alone in 2020-21—such is the scale and depth of CBIC’s work.
CBIC needed an IT strategy refresh
Over the last decade, CBIC has focused on revamping its IT strategy to provide end-to-end services to all stakeholders. CBIC consolidated its IT infrastructure in 2009 and moved from distributed architecture to a centralized data center model. Building on the success of this program, the ministry conceptualized Project Saksham in the year 2015 to refresh CBIC’s IT landscape using state-of-the-art technologies. A key goal behind this technology upgrade was to ensure readiness for new business initiatives including GST implementation which was to come into effect in July 2017.
Project Saksham was envisioned as a crucial technology enabler of the overall tax reform initiative of the Government of India. In terms of core physical IT needs, it called for setting up of an elastic virtual environment, a high-speed data center network, and robust security solutions to ensure real-time detection and mitigation of data breaches and security threats. This required a detailed assessment of the technology stack in use as well as a deep understanding of CBIC’s breadth of work and future technology needs. CBIC chose TCS as its technology transformation partner recognizing its expertise in all these areas.
TCS remodelled the IT backbone to support Project Saksham
TCS has been engaged with CBIC, delivering centralized IT infrastructure implementation and operations since 2008, but Project Saksham, with its broad scope of work, presented bigger challenges.
One such was the need to create infrastructure for the goods and services tax which was to be rolled out within eight months of the initiation of this engagement. What followed was strategy, execution, and delivery of multiple tracks such as:
Implementing an internal online portal to track and update the status of each track of the program in real time
Setting up and operating state-of-the-art data center technologies to be able to host new applications and services
Refreshing the IT infrastructure at all offices pan India, with modern hardware and software as well as alternative network connectivity at critical sites
Migrating core business applications, hosted on a legacy platform, to a new IT platform while ensuring zero downtime
Building of network operating centers (NOCs) and a security operation center (SOC) along with providing facility management services
Implementing a new learning management system (LMS) for departments users
Developing a new application to help taxpayers upload their documents digitally for customs clearance, eliminating the need for physical submission
Designing and implementing a 24x7 bilingual helpdesk to cater to 40,000 departmental users to create synergy between IT teams and provide faster resolution to user complaints
The augmentation and refresh of the data center infrastructure was carried out during non-business hours with minimal impact to regular business. This called for granularity in planning, sequencing, and coordination with multiple stakeholders such as application development partners, CBIC’s project management unit, OEMs, and field users. Given the statutory nature and 24x7 operations of CBIC, it had to be a transformation in motion, and business as usual had to be ensured.
CBIC completed IT upgrade and application migration on time
The various phases of Project Saksham were completed within the stipulated timeframe. TCS also helped in the migration of CBIC’s cargo application from a third-party data center to their own data center within a rather short period of four months.
Just when this migration started, India went into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic but that didn’t stop TCS from delivering on its promise. TCS supported CBIC and all its IT partners to work remotely, ensuring the cargo application is migrated successfully as per schedule, even as existing applications continued to function during lockdown. TCS also developed applications for business support functions such as vendor management system and portal for endpoint management.
CBIC is part of India’s national critical infrastructure, which means security and processes are paramount to its IT operations. To ensure this, TCS also implemented several IT security procedures, an IT service management system, and a business continuity strategy for CBIC—this led to the government agency picking up three ISO certifications in these areas. The robust and secure IT landscape that TCS rolled out for CBIC has been widely applauded, and the government agency has bagged prestigious awards from the Data Security Council of India (DSCI) in two consecutive years. CBIC won the Best Security Practices in Government Sector and Best Security Leader of the Year (Government) awards in the year 2020, and the Best Security Practices in Post Pandemic Scenario award in the year 2021.
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