Citizen Charters

Many public organizations have come out with their Citizen Charters, but consequent improvement in public service delivery has not happened. Discuss
Citizen Charter is an instrument to make a public Organization more responsive, accountable, and transparent and meet/exceed the expectations of the citizens through standardization of service delivery within specified time-frame and cost, if any, along with mechanism for grievance redressal, if need arises.

Issues with Citizen Charters

  • Drafting
  • Citizens and civil society were not engaged
  • Specified time limits are not reasonable in some cases
  • Publicity and awareness campaign are not displayed to educate and inform the citizens
  • mployees are not trained and sensitized hence they don’t cooperate with the citizens
  • Experience vary from one department/service/state to another
  • Has not been implemented wholeheartedly
  • Limits the scope of corruption and graft, thus attempts have been made to make it a failure and going back to older system
  • Inadequate attention from higher officials further hindered the implementation
  • Proved effective in the beginning. As complaints got increased with no commensurate increase in manpower and other resources, its credibility got eroded
  • Review and course correction
  • Periodic review to identify the service requests, time bound delivery and grievances could have facilitated course correction but same was not done

What needs to be done?

  • Business process re-engineering among the organizations to make their work in tandem with citizen charter standards
  • Raise awareness among citizens and consulting them at the time of framing the charter
  • Independent agencies must ensure the upgradation of charters to date. Also grievance redressal mechanisms must be established
  • The service standards must be made as measurable as possible
  • Consider local needs while framing a charter, i.e., bottom up approach
  • Head of the department must be penalized for non compliance with citizen charter rules.

Way forward

Initial boost in citizen’s satisfaction and later disappointment with Karnataka Guarantee Service to Citizens, also known as SAKALA, is a classic example to demonstrate what can go wrong with the implementation of a citizen charter. Given their potential to make public organization truly public and improve citizen experience in demanding various services, all underlying issues of citizen charters must be addressed holistically.


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