[Answered]The Citizens’ Charter is an ideal instrument of organisational transparency and accountability, but it has its own limitations. Identify the limitations and suggest measures for greater effectiveness of the Citizens’ Charter.

Demand of the question

Introduction. What is citizen charter?

Body. How Citizen Charter is a tool of organisational transparency and accountability? Various Limitations of Citizen Charter. Some measures to increase its effectiveness.

Conclusion. Way forward.

A Citizen’s Charter is a set of commitments made by an organisation regarding the standards of service which it delivers. It covers not only the Central Government Ministries/ Departments/ Organizations but also the Departments/ Agencies of State Governments and UT Administrations. As an instrument, it is propagated to make an organization transparent, accountable and citizen friendly.

Citizen Charter as a tool of organisational transparency and accountability:

  1. Citizen Charter increases participation of common man in efficient working of an organisation by making the citizens aware of the aims and goals of the organization..
  2. It help in reducing corruption through transparent provisions and thus, ensures accountability
  3. It leads to citizen friendliness and citizen convenience and raises efficiency and effectiveness in public delivery system.
  4. It reduces cost, prevents delay and red tapism and thus promote good governance.
  5. Citizen Charter set standards of service, allowing high expectations from an organisation, pushing them to work diligently.
  6. It encourages access and promote choice and thus, treat all fairly.

Limitations of Citizen Charter: Some of the limitations of Citizen Charters as follows:

  1. Lack of awareness and knowledge and inadequate publicity, hence loss of trust among service seekers is a major limitation.
  2. There is no provision of training to the operative and supervisory staff.
  3. Hierarchy gap between the Officers and the Operative Staff-Need of team effort is an issue.
  4. Different mind-sets of officers and the Staff- Insensitiveness on the part of Supervisors and the Staff because they are yet to be sensitised
  5. Staff is not prepared to shoulder the responsibility due to lack of motivation and accountability Non-revision, complicated and restrictive rules & procedures
  6. In a majority of cases, the Charters were not formulated through a consultative process.
  7. By and large, service providers are not familiar with the philosophy, goals and main features of the Charter.
  8. Further, adequate publicity to the Charters had not been given in any of the Departments evaluated. In most Departments, the Charters are only in the initial or middle stage of implementation.
  9. No funds have been specifically earmarked for awareness generation of Citizens’ Charter or for orientation of the staff on various components of the Charter.
  10. There is no mention of citizen’s responsibility.

Measures for greater effectiveness of the Citizen’s Charters:

  1. Charters should clearly spell out the remedy / penalty / compensation in case there is a default in meeting the standards spelled out in the Charter. A publication of the charter in local languages can be the first step.
  2. It is better to make few promises that can be kept, rather than a long list of lofty but impractical aspirations. Thus, citizen charters should be clear and objective.
  3. Before the organization makes charter, it should restructure its internal systems and processes.
  4. One size does not fit all. Citizens’ Charter should be close to ground reality and local conditions.
  5. Firm Commitments should be made. Evaluation of charters periodically should be done.
  6. A systematic consensus-based formulation of every citizen charter that is practical and whose commitments are achievable is needed.

Citizens’ Charter is a document which represents the commitment of an organisation towards standard, quality and time frame of service delivery, grievance redress mechanism, transparency and accountability. It provide more responsive and citizen-friendly governance. It is high time that Citizen Charter program should be revived and reintroduced to government departments so that they can become accountable not only to their customers but to themselves also.

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