An autonomous research institute under the Ministry of Finance


UIDAI’s Public Policy Innovations

Publication date

Sep, 2016


NIPFP Working paper No. 176


Ram Sewak Sharma


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.
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