Q. The Citizen’s Charter is an ideal instrument of organisational transparency and accountability. Identify the importance and components of Citizen’s Charter. Tracing out its limitations, suggest measures for its greater effectiveness.

Approach:

  • Start introduction mentioning the challenges in public service delivery.
  • Define Citizen’s Charter stating its importance and it components.
  • Discuss the limitation in implementation of Citizen’s Charter.
  • Discuss the measures to ensure its effective implementation.

Model Answer

The public service delivery of India faced a problem of bureaucratic corruption and delays. The government functioned in a very opaque and unaccountable manner. There existed a problem of information asymmetry between the government department and the consumers. There was an absence of grievance redress mechanism with in government framework.

Keeping this in concern, Citizen’s Charters were introduced in India in the 1990s. Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG) defines Citizen’s Charter as a document which represents a systematic effort to focus on the commitment of the Organisation towards its Citizens in respect of Standard of Services, Information, Choice and Consultation, Accessibility and Grievance Redress.

Citizen’s Charter aims at:

  • Making administration transparent and accountable
  • Bringing time bound delivery of services
  • Promoting awareness among the consumers about the quality of service to be delivered.
  • Promoting citizens friendly administration
  • To improve the experiences of customers by improving service delivery.
  • To address the grievances of citizens through Grievance Redress Mechanism.

Citizen’s charter possess following components to achieve its aim. Its six components are:

  • Vision and Mission Statements
  • Details of business transacted by the Organisation.
  • Details of Clients
  • Details of services provided to each client group.
  • Details of grievance redress mechanisms and how to access them
  • Expectations from clients

The Institutionalisation of concept of Citizen’s charter is there in every government department in India since 1997.  However, its implementation is still in embryonic stage. Earlier, Introduction and implementation of the concept of Citizens’ Charter in the Government of India was much more complicated due to the old bureaucratic set up/procedures and the rigid attitudes of the workforce. 

 Various Limitations/ Hurdles encountered in these initiatives are:

  • Citizen’s charter was viewed as an exercise to be performed by getting direction from top. It lacks participation and consultation process. Hence, it just becomes one of the routine activities of the organisation and had no focus.
  • The concerned staff are not sufficiently trained and sensitised. The commitments of the Charter cannot be expected to be delivered by a workforce that is unaware of the spirit and content of the Charter.
  • Sometimes, transfers and reshuffles of concerned officers at the critical stages of formulation/implementation of a Citizens’ Charter in an organisation severely destabilised the strategic processes which were put in place and hampered the progress of the initiative.
  • Awareness campaign to teach the client about Charter is not conducted properly.
  • There are cases where standard or norms of the services mentioned in the Charter are either too negligent or too tight and are impractical.
  •  The notion behind the Citizens’ Charter is not accurately understood. Information brochures, publicity materials, pamphlets produced earlier by the organisations are mistaken for Citizens’ Charters.

Various effective measures that can be taken to deal with the above hurdles are:

  • The department should guard against the tendency to promise more than they can deliver. A realistic assessment of quality and standard of service delivery is needed.
  • Proper training and sensitisation programme among staff are needed. Implementing the Charters without the staff owning them will defeat the purpose of the Charter.
  • Consultation exercise is a must to ensure bottom up approach in its implementation.
  • Easy grievance redress system and time bound deliver act is needed.
  • Independent audit of results is important after a period of implementation of the Charter.

To summarise, A Citizens’ Charter denotes the promise of an organisation towards standard, quality and time frame of service delivery, grievance redressal mechanism, clearness and accountability.  

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