A Citizens’ Charter represents the commitment of an organisation towards standard, quality and time bound service delivery, grievance redressal, transparency and accountability. Based on the anticipated expectations and aspirations of public, Citizens’ Charters are to be drawn-up with care and concern for the concerned service users. They enable the service seekers to avail the services of the government departments with minimum inconvenience and maximum speed. For this, the Citizens’ Charters are expected to indicate ‘WHERE TO GO’ and ‘HOW TO PROCEED’. On the other hand, it makes the service providers aware of their duties to attend to the problems of the concerned citizens within a reasonable time-frame. Thus, the dissemination of information about the Charter’s contents for the awareness and sense of responsibility & accountability among all are the keys to practical application of Citizens’ Charter in any area.
For Basic Concept, Origin and Principles of Citizens’ Charters in India, click http://darpg.nic.in/ArticleContent.aspx?category=182
Citizens’ Charters in India - As on September, 2009, 131 Citizens’ Charters had been formulated by the Central Government Ministries/Departments/Organisations and about 800 Charters by various agencies of 24 State Governments & Administrations of Union Territories. Most of the National Charters are posted on the government’s websites and are open to public scrutiny. These can be accessed from the GOVT. WEBSITE - www.goicharters.nic.in
Suggestions and grievances can also be communicated to -
Director (Public Grievances),
Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances,
Government of India,
Vth Floor, Sardar Patel Bhawan,
New Delhi-110 001
Tele-fax – (011) 2374-5472
E-mail : email@example.com
or log at - http://darpg-grievance.nic.in
Shri. P K Jha
Joint Secretary (PG),
Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances,
5th Floor, Sardar Patel Bhawan, Parliament Street, New Delhi - 110001
Telefax : 011-23745472
e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Shri Ramesh C Misra
Secretary, Department of Administrative Reforms, Public Grievances, Pensions & Pensioners' Welfare,
5th Floor, Sardar Patel Bhawan, Parliament Street, New Delhi - 110001
Telefax : 011-2374 2133 & 011-2374 2546
e-mail : email@example.com
Some Essential Ingredients of Citizens’ Charters
Every Charter is a solemn commitment of the government or public sector institution for delivery of services to the intended beneficiaries. Very briefly, the basic and essential ingredients of a citizens’ charter are-
(a) Listing of specific services offered by the Department,
(b) Location and timings of offices connected with the delivery of services.
(c) The names (with address and telephone number) of the officers responsible for delivery of the aforesaid services;
(d) The time required for the delivery of each service; and
(e) The grievance redressal authority in case the services offered are delayed or denied.
Some Obvious Deficiencies in the Existing Citizens’ Charters:
According to a study undertaken by TI India in May 2002 about the decree of application of the Citizens’ Charters in respect of eleven Departments of Delhi Govt. and two Central Government Departments, namely, DDA and Income Tax the following problem areas were identified -
- Lack of awareness and knowledge and adequate publicity, hence loss of trust among service seekers
- No training to the operative and supervisory staff.
- Lack of infrastructure and initiative.
- Hierarchy gap between the Officers and the Operative Staff-Need of team effort.
- Different mind-sets of officers and the Staff and in sensitiveness on the part of the Supervisors and the Staff.
- Staff is not prepared to shoulder the responsibility due to lack of motivation and accountability
- Non-revision, complicated and restrictive rules & procedures.
Change of mind-set:
Awareness and Consultation:
Introduction of e-Governance:
The Citizens’ Ombudsman (Lok Prahari):
Orientation of Officers and Staff :
These findings have been confirmed in another study of a professional agency sponsored by DAR & PG in 2002-03 for developing a standardised model for internal and external evaluation of Citizens’ Charters in a more effective, quantifiable and objective manner. Its key recommendations, inter alia, include: - (i) need for citizens and staff to be consulted at every stage of formulation of the Charter (ii) orientation of staff about the salient features and goals/ objectives of the Charter; vision and mission statement of the department; and skills such as team building, problem solving, handling of grievances and communication skills (iii) need for creation of database on consumer grievances and redress (iv) need for wider publicity of the Charter through print media, posters, banners, leaflets, handbills, brochures, local newspapers etc. and also through electronic media, (v) earmarking of specific budgets for awareness generation and orientation of staff and (vi) replication of best practices.
T I India’s Suggested Guidelines for the Citizens’ Charters
- List all Offices according to type of services they provide to public indicating their location, areas they cover, type of services being rendered to public and phone nos.
- There should be a separate Citizens’ Charter (i.e., Local Citizens’ Charters) for each office covering the services they provide. For example, there should be a separate Charter of the Directorate, its subordinate offices, hospitals, schools, etc. according to the particular services they provide.
- Mention Service Standards - Step-by-step-Procedure based on ‘Where to go; how to proceed’, simple and easy to fill-in forms, specimen of duly filled- in forms, documents, fees, etc. required, reasonable time schedule, Do’s & Don’ts, etc., names, addresses and Tele. nos. of concerned officials, his alternate for each service etc.
- Minimum documentation, self-attesttion and self-declaration
- No duplication - In case desired information and document submitted earlier like proof of residence (if there is no change), birth certificate etc. have been submitted earlier, they should not be asked again.
- If promised services are not provided as per specified time schedule, an effective grievance redressal mechanism (including the provision of compensation to the concerned citizen in order to introduce accountability) should be introduced.
- Provision of “TATKAL” (Immediate) Services if somebody is in urgent need (as in the case of Passport, Railways etc.) to avoid touts, bribery etc.
- Simultaneous changes in the Performa and other requirements to be effected along with the changes made in the Citizens Charter.
- Database of frequently required information like ownership of property, vehicle tax and dues paid or pending etc.
- If possible, the services and their related information may be presented in a tabular form.
- Salient features of each service should be prominently displayed in simple and easy language at all places likely to be visited by the service seekers.
Note - Every Citizens’ Charter has to be finalized after having a detailed discussion with the concerned service providers, service seekers and the genuine NGOs representing the concerned citizens and services.
Charter Mark Scheme
An organization which meets Indian Standard 15700:2005 will be entitled for “Sevottam” certification, “Sevottam” being the Indian name for excellence in service delivery. Given the largely negative opinion prevalent about the quality of government services in the country, the implementation of “Sevottam” is going to be a challenging exercise.
Following TII’s recommendations on Citizens’ Charters, the Prime Minister’s Office has directed the Delhi Government to impose penalty between Rs. 10 and Rs. 200 daily with effect from July 2010 on its officials if there is any slackness and the expected time schedule is not adhered to.
M.P. launches Public Services Guarantee Act - Realising that the provisions of Citizens’ Charters were not legally binding and given the need for timely delivery of public services, the Madhya Pradesh Government has now enacted its Public Services Guarantee (PSG) Act as an effective instrument to improve governance. This Act as a first-of-its-kind initiative in the country guarantees efficient delivery of services. For delay and excuses, the concerned officer or employee will have to pay a penalty of Rs 250 per day and a maximum amount of Rs 5,000. The amount of fine so recovered from the erring official will be given to the affected applicant. To ensure its implementation, a separate Public Service Management Department has been created with necessary resources and staff. A toll-free number is also given to facilitate effective communication for the common man.
Now, the Bihar Government is proposing a Bill to guarantee Right to Service (RTS) to the citizens so as to curb corruption in the bureaucracy. It will compel the administration to make the delivery of essential services efficient by making public officials accountable. It will contain provisions to fine public servants if they fail to perform their duty within a specified time frame. The fine would be deducted from their salary.