Time for timely delivery of services

The Delhi government has enacted a law to penalise those responsible for delaying services to the citizens

pratap

Pratap Vikram Singh | September 2, 2011




Most citizens believe that the government agencies are characterised by a callous lack of efficiency and a seeming contempt for accountability. The Delhi government’s electronic service level agreement (e-SLA) project promises to change this sorry state of affairs.

The e-SLA project is designed to ensure timely delivery of basic services to the citizens by fixing accountability. The information system, developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC), captures electronically the submission of service applications and their disposal. To the government, it provides information on the number of applications processed or disposed as well as the number of pending cases. This helps the government in tracking the performing and non-performing departments and personnel and in taking timely corrective measures.

To the citizens, it provides online facility to track their applications. To ensure that the cases are disposed on time, the government has introduced a system to penalise officers in cases of delay in delivery of services. The government has also enacted a law to ensure this.

It all began with the request of the prime minister’s office (PMO) to the Delhi government, through the union ministry of home affairs in June 2009, to conduct a pilot project for speedy delivery of services to the citizens on the basis of the service level agreements. This initiative evolved into the electronic service level agreement (e-SLA) project.

Several rounds of discussions later, the provision for penalisation in case of delay in service delivery was added to sensitise the officials towards a citizen-centric approach. Any designated officer, who fails to deliver services on time, will therefore be penalised at the rate of Rs 10 per day. Aggregation of 25 such instances of failure to deliver services on time can result in ‘administrative action’ against the officer concerned. The state assembly passed the Right of Public to Timely Delivery of Services Act 2011 in March to help implement these provisions.

To look into the grievances and compensation issues, all government departments are required to appoint a competent officer (not below the rank of deputy secretary or equivalent), empowered to impose penalties against the government employees who are found responsible for delaying the delivery of services. The departments are also required to appoint appellate officers, not below the rank of joint secretary of the government, to hear and decide against the order passed by the competent officer.

While the law was passed in March, its enforcement is awaited because appellate officers are still being appointed.

Act in action

Following a long overdue rationalisation of processes, several government departments in Delhi seem to be getting their act together. The transport department, for example, now issues driving licence, learner’s licence and renewal of driving licence on the same day of the submission of application. Birth and death certificates are now issued within seven days, instead of 15 days, of the submission of application. And efforts are on to reduce this period down to three days.

At present, the e-SLA covers 24 such services across nine departments.

The software for SLA monitoring has been hosted on the state wide area network. The software has been integrated with departmental database to get daily data on applications received, disposed and pending along with other attributes of the applications. The software automatically calculates the delay and penalty.

The government is planning to integrate another set of 40 services with the e-SLA. In the proposed list, Delhi Police, Delhi Development Authority, education department, Delhi Jal Baord, revenue department and Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and New Delhi Municipal Council will integrate a few of their services with the monitoring system. Eventually, 200 government-to-citizen services are expected to come under e-SLA. These might include the verification of domestic help by the Delhi Police, which remains a tedious process.

Disposal and pendency


The data from the existing integrated services throws up some interesting figures on the number of applications received and disposed. While the pending cases are almost nil in the case of some services, there is a big backlog in the case of others.

As of August 10, the MCD had received 6,37,115 applications for birth and death certificates, of which almost all have been disposed. Similarly, less than one percent of the 2,83,684 applications for issuance of driving licence and learner’s licence are pending with the transport department.

The transport department received 14,334 applications for vehicle registration, of which just 14 percent have been disposed. The revenue department received 63,512 applications for income certificate and 19,593 applications for domicile certificate and the pendency were 41 and 40 percent respectively.

Another critical service is issuance of above poverty line (APL) ration cards of the food and supplies department which received 1,08,590 applications. The pendency in the disposal of applications here is 24 percent.

The transport department received 5,162 applications for transfer of vehicle ownership but the pendency is around 23 percent. Similarly, the revenue department received 52,999 applications for OBC certificate and 95,364 applications for SC certificates, but the pendency is nearly 22 percent in both the cases.

pratap@governancenow.com

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