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UIDAI's Public Policy Innovations


  • Sharma, Ram Sewak

    () (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India)


The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) was mandated to issue unique identification numbers to every resident of India. The Authority has largely accomplished this mandate in a short time and within budget because it took many innovative and bold decisions. The first innovative decision we consider, in this paper, is the UIDAI's decision to add iris images to the set of biometrics collected by it. Another innovation of the UIDAI was its practice of conducting on-field trials. The last innovation we consider relates to how the UIDAI promoted competition and standardisation. The success of the UIDAI offers lessons for other government projects. Government processes need not prevent it from taking innovative decisions. High-quality procurement and project management skills can help the government outsource many functions that are currently housed within it. Testing major hypotheses through field trials before launching projects at scale can help ensure best use of public resources.

Suggested Citation

  • Sharma, Ram Sewak, 2016. "UIDAI's Public Policy Innovations," Working Papers 16/176, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy.
  • Handle: RePEc:npf:wpaper:16/176
    Note: Working Paper 176, 2016

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Radhika Pandey & Ila Patnaik & Ajay Shah, 2017. "Dating business cycles in India," Indian Growth and Development Review, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 10(1), pages 32-61, April.
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    More about this item


    Aadhaar ; UIDAI ; Biometrics ; Iris recognition ; Identity ; Authentication ; Digital ID;

    JEL classification:

    • L32 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Public Enterprises; Public-Private Enterprises
    • L33 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Comparison of Public and Private Enterprise and Nonprofit Institutions; Privatization; Contracting Out
    • L38 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Public Policy
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • D47 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Market Design

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