This article deals with topic titled ‘Citizen’s Charters.’ This is part of our series on ‘Ethics’ . For more articles , you can click here
What is Citizen’s Charter?
- Citizen Charter is a document of an organisation which contains different services that are hosted by organisation and the information related to standard of services along with cost and time required to deliver such service .
- In other words, it is set of commitments made by an organization regarding the standards of service which it delivers
- Every citizen’s charter has several essential components to make it meaningful;
|Vision & Mission Statement
- Vision = Long Term Objectives
- Mission = Specific Goals to be achieved in stipulated time
|Services (most important)
- Which services will be provided
- Time frame in which they will be provided
- Standard and Quality of Service to be provided
- Price at which it will be provided
|Grievance Redressal Mechanism
- Remedy in case above expectations aren’t fulfilled.
|Expectations from Client
- Responsibilities of the citizens
- Qualification criteria
- Logistic & paper oriented issues .
This is Indian innovation . Wasn’t there in UK Model
- These promises are not enforceable in a court of law but each organization should ensure that the promises made are kept and, in case of default, a suitable compensatory/remedial mechanism should be provided.
- Citizens’ Charter scheme in its present form was first launched in 1991 in the UK. The aim was to ensure that public services are made responsive to the citizens they serve.
- Sets the standards
- Increases accountability and transparency
- Provides Grievance Redressal
Reasons for failure
|Setting Lofty Goals
- Most of the times, lofty promises were made without giving attention to capacity of organisation to deliver promises
|Poor design & content
- Critical information that end-users need to hold agencies accountable are simply missing from a large number of charters.
|Lack of public awareness
- only a small percentage of end-users are aware of the commitments made in the Citizens’ Charter.
|Charters are rarely updated
- Charters are rarely updated and Charter of some agencies dates back nearly a decade when Citizens’ Charter program was started.
- Few Charters indicate the date of release.
|End users & NGOs not consulted
- Since a Citizens’ Charter’s primary purpose is to make public service delivery more citizen-centric, agencies must consult ordinary citizens and civil society organizations while formulating Citizen’s Charter .
|Faulty Grievance Redressal
- Grievance Redressal Mechanism in most of the cases were upset or they were defunct and inactive.
|No legislative /statutory backing
- Citizen Charters are toothless since they have no legal backing .
|Resistance to change
- The new practices demand significant changes in the behavior and attitude of the agency and its staff towards citizens. At times, vested interests work for stalling the Citizens’ Charter altogether or in making it toothless.
- Employees of the organisation are not trained in tune with Citizen Charter
ARC II recommendations on Citizen Charter
7 Steps have been suggested by ARC for effective implementation of Citizen Charter
|Internal restructuring should precede Charter formulation:
- Merely announcing the Charter will not change the way Organisation functions. It is important to create condusive conditions through interaction and training of employees
One size does not fit all:
- Formulation of Citizens’ Charters should be a decentralized activity with the head office providing broad guidelines.
Wide consultation process:
- Charter must be framed not only by senior experts, but by interaction with the cutting edge staff who will finally implement it and with the user
Firm commitments to be made:
- Citizens’ Charters must make firm commitments in quantifiable terms
Redressal mechanism in case of default:
- Citizens’ Charter should clearly lay down the relief which the organization is bound to provide if it has defaulted on the promised standards of delivery.
Periodic reviewing of Citizens’ Charters:
- Obtain feedback and review Charter at least every six months as Citizens’ Charter is a dynamic document
Include Civil Society in the process
Spirit behind the Citizen Charter by Gandhi : A Customer is most important visitor to our premise. He is not dependent on us, we are dependent on him. He is not interruption to our work, he is purpose of it. He is not outsider to our business but he is a part of it. We are not doing a favour by serving him , he is doing a favour by giving us opportunity to serve him.
|Sevottam = Seva + Uttam
- Seva = Service
- Uttam = Excellence
Hence, Sevottam = Excellence in delivery of Public Service
Sevottam Model is evaluatory model ie Government Services as hosted by different Departments and Ministries are evaluated against the Sevottam Model . Based upon performance and evaluation, Grades are given in terms of Standards of Excellence achieved .
There are three pillars of Sevottam Model against which evaluation is done (CGE)
- First Pillar – Citizen Charter
- Second Pillar – Grievance Redressal Mechanism
- Third Pillar – Drive for Excellence