Citizen’s Charter: Improving local government service delivery


The Citizen's Charter on display in the Batticaloa District

In 2009, UNDP, under its Local Governance Project (LoGoPro), stepped in to support the Ministry of Public Administration and Home Affairs to further develop and promote the Citizen’s Charter, a set of commitments by the Government towards the people on the standard of the services it provides, including the types of services, how these can be accessed at all levels, timeframe and officials responsible for delivering these services.

Highlights

  • The Citizen's Charter is a key policy instrument that details the available grievance redress mechanisms. it is today, displayed in 14,022 Grama Niladhari offices across the island as well as 108 Divisional Secretariats and 8 District Secretariats in the Eastern, Southern and Uva provinces.
  • The new system has aimed to incorporate tools such as citizens’/client feedback forms, suggestion boxes, news monitoring, call services and client surveys, thus improving service delivery and promoting transparency and accountability in a government administration.
  • The 20 Work Manuals, which were developed, have helped streamline and detail the duties and functions of public officers in various sections, institutionalizing processes and systems.

A key policy instrument that also details the available grievance redress mechanisms, the Citizen’s Charter promotes transparency and accountability in a government administration. Today, the Citizen’s Charter has helped 14,022 Grama Niladhari offices across the island as well as 108 Divisional Secretariats and 8 District Secretariats in the Eastern, Southern and Uva provinces to achieve just this as they take a crucial step forward in improving public service delivery.

The Citizen’s Charter was first introduced in 2007 by the Ministry of Public Administration and Home Affairs. Ministry and department officials were required to adhere to these requirements by preparing their own Citizen’s Charter. “However, in practice, the system was not being fully implemented,” said Mr. J. Dadallage, Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Public Administration and Home Affairs. As such, there was an urgent need to further develop and promote the system, while also ensuring that integrated methods are adopted to improve service delivery.

With LoGoPro’s support, the system was re-engineered in 2009. The new system has aimed to incorporate tools such as citizens’/client feedback forms, suggestion boxes, news monitoring, call services and client surveys. Programmes have been conducted to improve the knowledge and capacity of the Government officials in the various components of the Citizen’s Charter and its uses.

Furthermore, a database model has been developed, whereupon Divisional and District Secretariats are now required to closely study the services provided by them and the standard of service delivery, as well as the legal provisions related to that particular service. “This helped us develop the systems, the thinking and the procedures of introducing the Citizen’s Charter.  It was then up to the officials to expand on what they had so far developed,” added Mr. Dadallage. This was crucial to ensure that the public officials were aware of their strengths and weaknesses, as well as their roles and responsibilities to the public. IT-based evaluation patterns have also been introduced to further enhance the efficiency of the public service.

The Citizen’s Charter initiative has also supported other service delivery providers, and as the next step in monitoring and further improving public service delivery, a performance monitoring system was developed and is being implemented at the district level.

In addition, LoGoPro has supported the Ministry of Public Administration to develop 20 Work Manuals for various public service positions. The Work Manuals streamlined and detailed the duties and functions of public officers in various sectors, thereby institutionalizing processes and systems. Some of the public service positions covered by the Work Manuals include human resources and institutional management, Samurdhi, planning and development, and financial management.

The Citizen’s Charter is currently displayed in 14,022 Grama Niladhari offices island wide, 108 Divisional Secretariats and District Secretariats in Ampara, Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Galle, Matara, Hambantota Badulla and Moneragela. Plans are currently underway to introduce the Citizen’s Charter in eight districts across North Central, North West and Sabaragamuwa provinces.

UNDP’s support has not only helped to promote the Citizen’s Charter, but also has helped develop the necessary knowledge and capacity of Government officials, which, looking ahead, Mr. Dadallage notes will be a crucial factor in ensuring the sustainability and the future success of the system.