What are citizen’s charters? How does it ensure transparency and accountability in administration? Read to know more.
A citizen’s charter is a document of commitment made by a government agency to the citizens with respect to the services being provided to them.
It empowers the citizens to press the committed standards of service.
Citizen’s Charter is not legally enforceable, hence not justiciable.
The main objective of the charter is to bridge the gap between Citizens and Administration and streamlines the needs and concerns of the citizens for effective implementation.
Principles of Citizens’ Charter
The citizen’s charter was first conceptualized and implemented by John Major of the Conservative Government in the United Kingdom.
It was articulated as a national program in 1991 to improve the quality of public services in the country.
Tony Blair’s Labour Government relaunched the program as ‘Services First’ in 1998
The six principles originally chartered were:
Citizens Charters: Global Schemes and Initiatives
The schemes and initiatives of various countries are as follows
In 1992, the ‘Charter Mark Award Scheme’ was initiated by the UK Government to recognize excellence in public service deliveries.In 2008, it was replaced by ‘The Customer Service Excellence Award Scheme’
Public Service Users’ Charter, 1992
Service Charter, 1992
The Quality Observatory, 1992
Client Charter, 1993
The Quality Charter in Public Services, 1993
Citizens’ Charter, 1994
Service Standards Initiative, 1995
Service Charter, 1997
Citizen’s Charter, 1997
Citizens’ Charter, 1997: India
A conference of Chief Secretaries of States and Union Territories on ‘Effective and Responsive Administration,1996’ recommended the adoption of the Citizens’ Charter for all public service organizations.
Since its inception in 1997, various ministries, departments, and other agencies of the Central and State Governments and Union Territories have formulated various charters.
Under the aegis of the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, more responsible and citizen-friendly governance reforms were articulated and operationalized.
It also provides guidelines for the formulation, implementation, and evaluation of the Citizens’ Charter.
Attributes of Citizens’ Charter India
- Lucid Language
- Service Standards
- Effective Remedies
- Feedback Mechanism
- Close Monitoring
- Periodic Review
Citizens’ Charter Initiative
- The Citizens’ Charter was first initiated in 1997, in all Central Ministries and Departments followed by State/Union territories. They launched a special portal and the number of citizens’ charters listed on the portal had been increased to a great extent
- Secondly, all central ministries and departments have also been requested to upload their citizens’ charter information in their annual reports
- It is included in one of the three components of the Sevottam Model
Sevottam Model is a model proposed by the 2nd ARC (Administrative Reforms Commission) for Public Service Delivery.
- The first component emphasizes effective implementation. The citizen’s charters publicly declare citizens’ entitlements thus making them better informed and empowering them to demand efficient services
- The second component highlights the necessity for a good grievance redressal system that satisfies the citizens on how organizations respond to citizens’ complaints/grievances irrespective of the decisions.
- The third component ‘Service Delivery Capability’ postulates that an organization with efficient service-delivery skills can only have an excellent performance on the same and continually improve upon service delivery.
- The fourth initiative is as per the 12th Report of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC):
Second ARC in its 12th report entitled ‘Citizen Centric Administration – Heart of Governance’ recommended formulating citizen charters as a vital document to interact with citizens. The government of India has accepted the recommendation.
- The fifth initiative is creating State department Charters through 12-month pilot projects.
Sevottam Pilot Projects were implemented in four states in four different sectors from 2008-10
- In Himachal Pradesh, Citizens Charters with Quality Standards for services delivered by Water Supplies and Sanitation Unit of Municipal Corporation, Shimla.
- In Karnataka, the Citizens Charter has been created for the Department of Women and Child Development (DWCD) for its excellent service delivery under the Central Scheme of Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) through Anganwadi Centres at the village level.
- In Madhya Pradesh, the charter had been created for the Public Health and Family Welfare (PH&FW) Department
- For the Food, Supplies and Consumer Welfare (FS&CW) in Odisha, the charter is listed for its micro-level service delivery as the Public Distribution System was delivered to the Gram Panchayat Level.
Evaluation of Citizens Charters
The Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG) appointed a professional agency to develop a standardized framework for the Internal and External Evaluation of Citizens’ Charters more effectively.
Key Findings of the agency were:
- In major states, charters were not formulated through a consultative process.
- Most Service Providers are unaware of the philosophy, objectives, and main features of the charter
- No adequate publicity was given to the charters. In most cases, the charters were only at the inception stage and partially implemented.
- No funds have been earmarked for awareness generation, orientation, or any other factors in that case.
Indian Institute of Public Administration 2008 conducted another study on the Evaluation of the Citizens’ Charter, sponsored by the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances.
Highlights of the study were:
- Not all Ministries/Departments adopt the Citizens Charter.
- Lack of Precision and Standards
- Little to no involvement by organizations in adhering to the charter protocols
- Poor Planning on the communications front thus throttling the commitment to effective service delivery
- Many charters have frozen in time since inception
- Lack of accountability and review mechanisms
- Effective performance mandates participative mechanisms,
Recommendations and Way forward
In order to improve the formulation and implementation of citizens’ charters, the following pointers are recommended:
- The consultative process between citizens and staff at every stage of formulation of the charter
- Orientation regarding salient features, goals, vision, and mission statement of the department, skill development, problem-solving, and handling of grievances
- Need for the creation of a database on consumer grievances and redressal.
- Creating awareness through print media and electronic media
- Allocating budgets for
- orientation of staff and awareness generation
- Revision of policies based on best practices in the field.
Article written by : Sulochna Anu
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