A string of high-profile workshops and a nudge from the cabinet secretariat could finally convince babudom to put the citizen back on their radar.
Over the last fortnight, the Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances (DAR&PG) has been conducting workshops for middle-ranking government officials to teach them how to introduce and implement the Sevottam framework conceptualised by the department more than four years ago.
The Sevottam framework has three components at its heart: citizen charter, public grievance mechanism and service delivery capability of various public services and standards.
Citizen charters made a loud entry into the bureaucratic lexicon in the government around the mid-nineties.
But government officials acknowledge the point got lost somewhere down the line — if anyone remembered it at all — that the charter wasn’t an end in itself but a means to an end: putting the citizen around. Also, the charters were drawn up in such a perfunctory manner that they really did not tell the citizen anything, or lend themselves to monitoring.
This time, said R.C. Misra, secretary of DAR&PG, the exercise entailed documenting and laying down the services offered by different ministries, setting standards and laying down the norms for delivery. But rather than stopping at this stage, different ministries were required to enhance the capability of the ministry concerned to achieve the laid-down standards and more importantly, monitoring the achievements vis-à-vis the objectives.
“Besides, it also requires ministries get their performance externally evaluated by an independent agency,” Mishra said.
As there would be people who would have grievances, irrespective of the ministry’s ability to deliver on its promises, Misra said the public grievance mechanism — that has been a subject of debate in and out of the government— would also be dealt with at the workshops.
Officials said the Performance Management Division of the Cabinet Secretariat had included two modules of the Sevottam framework — as mandatory success indicators in the Result Framework Document (RFD) of all ministries.
The RFD lists parameters against which performance of departments would be evaluated and would influence the performance appraisal of senior bureaucrats also.