Civil servants certainly are no good at making promises.
Nearly 20% of Citizen/Client's Charters (CCCs) produced by central departments after several rounds of training and review are below acceptable levels, the cabinet secretariat has told union ministers.
The cabinet secretariat had made it mandatory for all departments to draw up the citizen charters as part of the Results Framework Document (RFD) in 2010. The RFD requires departments to list out their action plan for the year in advance and then measures their performance against the targets.
In March-end, the performance management division of the cabinet secretariat sent a compendium of charters of 50 central departments to all ministers with a covering letter.
The division has been working closely with 62 departments to improve the quality of the charters since 2010.
The quality of the citizen's charter will further gain importance after parliament passes Right of Citizens for time-bound delivery of goods and services and redressal of their grievances bill pending since 2011.
"I may mention here that even after several rounds of training and review not all departments have prepared CCCs that can be considered acceptable," Prajapati Trivedi, secretary of the performance management division wrote.
As a few departments had still not prepared their CCCs by the date on which cabinet secretary approved the compendium, the present document contains only 50 CCCs that are above the acceptable threshold level, he added.
Officials tasked with pushing administrative reforms within the central government have been trying to push CCCs for more than a decade.
Trivedi's team incorporated CCCs as a mandatory performance parameter for departments "given a less than satisfactory track record of implementation of CCCs and the uneven quality of CCCs".
There were charters, he wrote to the ministers, that were "neither useful for measuring the performance of departments" nor was there any consequence for ignoring the commitments listed.
The Citizen's or a Client's Charter is a commitment by a government department in black and white on the standard of delivery of services, usually in terms of timelines.
This was meant to help raise the standard of governance by giving people the right to complain if departments did not meet the standards they set for themselves.
This also meant that the official concerned would have some explaining to do in case of a complaint if sit on requests beyond their deadlines.