One door to fast and efficient public services

06 Aug 2012

Life has become easier for residents of Pek District, in the central Lao province of Xiengkhouang, since the One Door Service Centre opened in May 2008 and made important administrative tasks less complicated and time consuming.

Ms. Saisamone, a 35-year old teacher, knows firsthand how much the service has improved in the last few years. Before the centre became operational she applied for ID cards for all her family. The whole process took one month, with hours spent at the district police station and village office, to get the correct papers. During this time she had to leave her classroom many times and ask other teachers to step in for her.

Now everything has become faster and easier because the centre can process all the paperwork under one roof. Saisamone recently used the new service to apply for a birth certificate and to change her family book, after her husband passed away, The documents were ready within 3 days and she could go to the centre during her 20-minute break to pick up forms and start the process.

Soherto, a 20 year old student, is similarly satisfied. He came to the centre to change his name and date of birth on his identification card, because they differed from the information in the family book. “The family book and my ID needed to match for the easy processing of documents. This is important if I want to continue my studies at the university level,” he said. Thanks to the simplified service he could pick up his new documents after just one day.

The centre in Pek district was the first one set up following the successful pilot in Vientiane, the capital. It also deals with import and export transactions, as well as household registration, marriages, divorces and death certificates.

At the moment there are 16 One Door Service Centres across Lao PDR and the Government plans to expand the service to cover all 17 provinces. Ten out of the 16 centres were established with the help of the Governance and Public Administration Reform (GPAR) programme, supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), among others.

Two recent evaluations and reviews reported a range of positive impacts on citizen service delivery. The centres, when taken together, carry out around 56,000 services a year, and people using the centres have expressed a high level of satisfaction. The assessments, for example, showed a 200% improvement in the time taken to obtain a land registration certificate (from 7-14 days, compared to 30-60 days in the past).

Efforts will now be made to strengthen the skills of the One Door Centre staff, to improve coordination between offices and further reduce lengthy procedures.