India's government has summoned the CEO of Infosys to explain why a tax portal built by the services giant remains a glitchy mess ten weeks after launch.
The portal went live on June 8th but immediately proved so unreliable that the government was forced to revert to paper-based tax filing processes and to extend filing deadlines.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman shamed Infosys with some mean tweets, then hauled execs in to explain themselves.
The portal's performance has remained imperfect ever since, leading to ongoing talks.
On August 21st, Infosys took the portal down for what it described a "planned maintenance".
But by Sunday the 22nd the portal was still down, and Infosys's language changed to describe the situation as emergency maintenance".
Whatever went wrong took quite a while to fix – the portal only came back online on the 23rd.
The emergency maintenance of the @IncomeTaxIndia portal has concluded and the portal is live. We regret any inconvenience caused to taxpayers.— Infosys India Business (@InfosysIndiaBiz) August 22, 2021
Sitharaman was sick of it all on the 22nd, when she summoned Infosys managing director and CEO Salil Parekh to a meeting.
The minister expressed "deep disappointment and concerns of the Government and the taxpayers".
Parekh responded by revealing that Infosys has over 750 staffers working on the project, and that Chief Operating Officer Pravin Rao is personally overseeing the work.
Officials from the Ministry of Finance wanted more, and "emphasised that there is a need for putting in more resources and efforts on the part of Infosys so that the much-delayed delivery of agreed services is ensured."
The meeting also saw Infosys given a deadline of September 15th to deliver a glitch-free portal.
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Infosys has been largely silent on the project and the reasons it's struggled, so there's no indication if that deadline is realistic.
Opinion on the matter is divided. Infosys is certainly getting a kicking.
Why Infosys is not being fined for non-performance of their project which has caused inconvenience to millions of tax payers nationwide..— Muzamil Nazir Bhat (@muzamil_nazir) August 23, 2021
"We regret the Inconvenience" line from last 3 months by Infosys is not sufficient.#incometaxnewportal
@Infosys I am not able to file my ITR and by every passing day I am liable to pay interest on my excess tax amount! Will @infosys or Salil Parekh pay that?— Venkata Rajuvaripet (@Vksouth) August 23, 2021
Pathetic team to undertake such a critical project!!
Others, however, have expressed sympathy on grounds that public sector projects are seldom simple, and the existing infrastructure was not in great shape before the project started.
But such sympathetic sentiments are in the minority, because Infosys also had trouble on a previous project related to India's goods and services tax. ®