India’s new tax e-filing portal went live Monday night, and was down less than 24 hours later, leading union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to jump onto Twitter with some pointed questions for the site's developer, Indian services giant Infosys.
Infosys won a contract to build the tax portal in 2019. The new tech was promised to reduce the wait for refunds from 63 days to one day, and to improve the user experience.
After the new portal went live, Sitharaman sent a celebratory tweet. But after many would-be users reported difficulty accessing the site, she was inspired to throw some blame at Infosys and its co-founder, Nandan Nilekani.
The much awaited e-filing portal 2.0 was launched last night 20:45hrs.— Nirmala Sitharaman (@nsitharaman) June 8, 2021
I see in my TL grievances and glitches.
Hope @Infosys & @NandanNilekani will not let down our taxpayers in the quality of service being provided.
Ease in compliance for the taxpayer should be our priority. https://t.co/iRtyKaURLc
Nilekani managed to take it on the chin, responding that day one indeed had technical glitches Infosys was working to resolve.
The new e-filing portal will ease the filing process and enhance end user experience. @nsitharaman ji, we have observed some technical issues on day one, and are working to resolve them. @Infosys regrets these initial glitches and expects the system to stabilise during the week. https://t.co/LocRBPCzpP— Nandan Nilekani (@NandanNilekani) June 8, 2021
Income Tax India isn’t the first government service to have its debut bungled and certainly won’t be the last. The US Healthcare.gov website famously suffered software and capacity issues when it debuted in 2013 to register people for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
The UK NHS has also seen its share of troubles. Last month it was discovered that the vaccine-booking website exposed individual vaccine status without authentication.
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As for Infosys, the company has been down this road before and survived the journey. A 2015 contract to build and maintain India’s GST system endured technical glitches, some of which went unresolved for almost two years. Infosys Chief Operating Officer U.B. Pravin Rao told in-country news outlet BusinessLine the problems were mostly due to backend network management.
Infosys has gone from strength to strength since.
The tax portal remains inaccessible at the time of writing, as the outage nears 24 hours. ®