Current Public Administration Magazine – “Reports”

Sample Material of Current Public Administration Magazine


(12th Report)- Citizen centre Administration – The Heart of Governance

Citizen centricity is the essence of any vibrant democracy
and is inextricably linked to good governance. Good governance basically means
creating an environment in which all classes of citizens can develop to their
fullest potential. It also means provision of public services in an effi cient
and equitable manner to citizens. In India, the Constitution lays the foundation
for promotion of citizen centric governance. It provides for fundamental rights
that are the hallmark of our democracy and mandates the welfare of all citizens
through a set of Directive Principles. Based on the principles enshrined in the
Constitution, India has developed an elaborate legal and institutional framework
for ensuring good governance to its citizens. The Commission’s primary mandate
is to suggest measures for achieving a proactive, responsive, accountable,
sustainable and effi cient administration for the country at all levels of
government. The objective of promoting citizen centric administration has,
therefore, been a central focus of all the Reports submitted so far by the
Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC). In this Report, the Commission has
emphasized on governance processes that can make administration more citizen
oriented. The strategies highlighted in the Report can be conceptualized as
demand side strategies and supply side strategies. While the demand side
strategies are geared to giving citizens’ groups a greater role in governance,
the supply side strategies aim to reorient government organizations to make them
more effi cient, eff ective and participative. The Commission has therefore
looked at various mechanisms for making administration more responsive to
citizens.Thus the concept of citizens’ charter as a tool for promotion of
greater effi ciency and accountability has been examined in detail. Further,
processes and mechanisms for promotion of citizens’ participation in
administration have been suggested. The Commission has also emphasized simplifi
cation of processes along with de-centralization and delegation to make
administration more accessible to citizens. The Commission has, in addition,
suggested various measures for revamping the grievances redressal mechanisms in
government departments. The role of special institutional mechanisms such as the
various national and state commissions for protection of vulnerable groups has
also been examined and measures suggested for improving their functioning. In
conclusion, the Commission would like to reiterate that the aforesaid measures
will need to be implemented in conjunction with the various recommendations made
in the Commission’s other Reports.

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1. Functions of Government

a. Government organisations should adhere to the principles while performing
regulatory functions.
b. Government agencies, whether regulatory or developmental, should introduce
the Single Window Agency concept within their organisations to minimize delays
and maximize convenience to citizens.

Government as a whole should draw a roadmap with timelines for expeditious
creation of a single window at the local level for provision of all
developmental and regulatory services to citizens.

a. The principle of subsidiarity should be followed while deciding on the
implementation machinery for any programme.
b. Citizens should be actively involved in all stages of these programmes i.e.
planning, implementation and monitoring.
c. Mandatory social audit should be carried out for all programmes.
d. Impact assessment should be carried out for all programmes at periodic

2. Making Citizens’ Charters Effective – An Agenda for Reform Citizens’

Charters should be made effective by adopting the following principles:

i. One size does not fi t all.
ii. Citizens’ Charter should be prepared for each independent unit under the
overall umbrella of the organisations’ charter.
iii. Wide consultation which include Civil Society in the process.
iv. Firm commitments to be made.
v. Internal processes and structure should be reformed to meet the commitments
given in the Charter. vi. Redressal mechanism in case of default.
vii. Periodic evaluation of Citizens’ Charters.
viii. Benchmark using end-user feedback.
ix. Hold offi cers accountable for results.

3. The ARC Seven-Step Model for Citizen Centricity

  1. The Union and State Governments should make the seven-step model
    outlined mandatory for all organizations having public interface.

4. Citizen’s Participation in Administration

a. It should be mandatory for all government organizations to
develop a suitable mechanism for receipt of suggestions from citizens, which
could range from the simple ‘Suggestion Box’ to periodic consultations with
citizens’ groups. Heads of the concerned organizations should ensure rigorous
follow up action on the suggestions received so that these become a meaningful
exercise. A system of incentives and rewards should be introduced so that
suggestions that lead to significant improvement or savings can be acknowledged.
b. Every government organization must ensure the following: (i) fool-proof
system for registration of all complaints, (ii) a prescribed time schedule for
response and resolution, and (iii) a monitoring and evaluation mechanism to
ensure that the norms, prescribed are complied with. Use of tools of information
technology can help to make such a system more accessible for citizens. Heads of
all government organizations should be made responsible ensuring the development
of such a system for responding to a time bound resolution of the complaints of
c. Regular citizens’ feedback and survey and citizens’ report cards should be
evolved by all government organisations for gauging citizens’ responses to their
services. Tese should be used as inputs for improving organizational efficiency.
d. While no single modality or mechanism can be prescribed for encouraging
citizens’ participation in governance; in general, there is need to create
institutionalized mechanisms for encouraging their participation in governance
across public agencies at all levels and, for this to happen, the following
steps are necessary:

  1. A comprehensive review of policy and practice in each
    department/public agency.
  2. Modifying administrative procedures where necessary.
  3. Entrustment of the function of institutionalizing citizens’
    participation in governance to a senior level offi cer.
  4. Performance management reviews to incorporate eff ectiveness in
    ensuring citizens’ participation in governance.The objective could also
    be served by active and cooperative participation by government agencies
    in civil society initiatives in the area of citizens’ participation in
    grievance redressal.

5. Participation of Women and the Physically Challenged

a. Ensuring the full participation of women should be a
specific aim of citizen centric administration and this should be reflected in
various policies and programmes, including citizens’ charters and grievances
redressal mechanisms.
b. Government may constitute an expert committee to identify the areas where
special provisions for the physically challenged should be made mandatory. Tese
areas could be reviewed and expanded every fi ve years.
c. Government should adopt a more proactive approach for detection and
registration of the physically challenged persons.
d. To achieve this, responsibility should be cast on the Primary Health Centres
(PHCs) to identify all such cases in their jurisdiction and to get the
evaluation of the disabilities done. To enable the PHCs to discharge these
responsibilities, adequate resources should be placed at the disposal of the
Medical Offi cer, PHC along with delegation of commensurate authority and
changes in the relevant rules.
e. Organization of camps at PHC level, attended by the concerned medical
personnel, would greatly help in issuing certifi cates of disability on the
spot. f. Further, steps should be taken to create a database for all the
Disabilities Certifi cate holders with integration at District, State and
National levels.

6. Delegation

a. Based on the principle of subsidiarity, each government
organization should carry out an exercise to assess whether adequate delegation
of authority has been done. In doing so, it should be clearly enunciated that
the top levels of the organization should essentially focus on policy making
functions and the field level functionaries should focus on operational aspects.

b. The extent to which delegated powers is used or is allowed to be used, should
be two of the elements while appraising an officer’s overall performance.

7. Evolving an Effective Public Grievances Redressal System

a. There is need for a strong and effective internal
grievance redressal mechanism in each organization.
b. The Union and State Governments should issue directions asking all public
authorities to designate public grievance officers on the lines of the Public
Information Officers under the RTI Act. These officers should be of adequate
seniority and should be delegated commensurate authority.
c. All grievance petitions received should be satisfactorily disposed of by
these officers within thirty days. Non-adherence to the time limit should invite
financial penalties.
d. Each organization should designate an appellate authority and devolve
adequate powers upon them including the power to impose fines on the defaulting

8. Analysis and Identification of Grievance Prone Areas

a. Government organizations should analyse the complaints
received and identify the areas wherein interventions would be required so as to
eliminate the underlying causes that lead to public grievances. This exercise
should be carried out at regular intervals.

9. Consumer Protection

a. Lok Adalats would be effective in settling many consumer
disputes. It should be stipulated by law that cases up to a particular value,
say Rupees two lakhs, should first be referred to Lok Adalats.
b. All Ministries/Departments need to examine the procedures regulating grant of
licenses, permissions or registration including the underlying Acts, Rules,
Notifications, etc. These should be recast with the following underlying

  1. There should be an upper time limit for grant of any
    license/permission/registration. The law should provide for penalties if
    an application is not disposed of within the stipulated period.
  2. Applications should be processed only on a ‘First in First out
    Basis’. All applications received and pending should be put on the
    licensing authority’s website.
  3. Selecting units for surprise inspection should not be left to the
    discretion of the inspecting officers. Each office should devise an
    objective procedure to randomly select units for inspection. Exceptions
    can be made in case of receipt of genuine complaints against any unit.
  4. The outcome of all inspections must be immediately put in the public
  5. There should be an annual audit of the licensing and inspection
    system each year by an independent agency.
  6. All licensing authorities should evolve an accessible system for
    receipt of citizens’ complaints.

10. Special Institution Mechanisms

a. A common format for making complaints before various
statutory Commissions should be devised in consultation with each other. This
format should capture the details of the victims and complainants in such a way
that it facilitates matching of data across different Commissions. In case of
complaints filed without the use of the common format, the necessary fields may
be filled up at the time of registration of cases itself by the Commission
receiving the complaint.
b. As recommended in the Commission’s Eleventh Report entitled ‘Promoting
e-Governance: the SMART Way Forward’, each statutory Commission should create an
electronic database prospectively and each database should be networked with
each other to facilitate comparison of data.
c. The Human Rights Commission {as defined in Section 3(3), PHRA} should lay
down norms to deal with complaints by the most appropriate Commission. The basic
principle could be that the dominant grievance in a complaint should lead to its
handling by the appropriate Commission. Nodal officers may be appointed in each
Commission to identify and coordinate action over such cases. Internal
mechanisms should be evolved within each statutory Commission to facilitate the
handling of such cases in a coordinated manner.
d. The Union and State Governments should take proactive steps in dealing with
serious offences like custodial deaths/rapes etc on priority so that occurrence
diminishes over the years. Help of NHRC may be taken to prepare an action plan
for this purpose.
e. In the smaller States, a single ‘multi-role’ Commission may be constituted
which would carry out the specific functions of all the constitutional and
statutory Commissions at the State level.
f. A separate Standing Committee of Parliament may be constituted to look into
Annual Reports submitted by these statutory Commissions.

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