Active citizens improve the lives of others

22 Mar 2016

 Photo Credit: Meerim Abdyeva, Test shopping team member

Public service delivery system reform

The services have a vital part to play in sustaining and enhancing the social and economic prospects and environmental quality of towns and countryside. When an ordinary citizen faces a public authority? When he requests for a public service: he meets with them in the passport offices, clinics, social fund departments.

The public services can have a profound effect on the opportunities and quality of life of the people who live and work there. One of core issues of service system was lack of quality standards for services provided by the state, and therefore was not possible to assess them and appeal the actions of state bodies. The current system often provokes the appearance of corruption schemes in state bodies and municipalities.

The quality standards of services

As a taxpayer, can a citizen require from the government bodies to provide quality services? Can a citizen to carry out public monitoring services?

Answer: Yes, every citizen can and should demand the performance of qualitative service standards.

Within reform of public service delivery system, which is aiming to improve quality and accessibility of services, the Government approved a template of service standard in 2012. It is a basis for quality evaluation of public services by citizens and their communities (Government Decree # 603, dated September 3, 2012). For today, approximately 200 standards of public services have been approved.

Public monitoring of service standards

In 2015, the public monitoring of 10 pilot public services were conducted by the initiative of the Government Office and in close cooperation with the “Union of Local self-governments in the KR”, local NGOs and activists in the rayons. It was done under UNDP “Capacity Development Facility” project.  This public monitoring was based on a developed methodology and conducted in six targeted government bodies in the cities of Bishkek, Osh, Jalal-Abad, Karakol, Shopokov, and in Suzak and Sokuluk rayons.

Test shopping method was exercised. The monitoring team studied the process of services receipt alive: appealing the civil servants, waiting in queue, documents gathering - all procedures usually faced by the customer.

Meerim, member of monitoring team, tells: «We went as customers to receive public services, encountered the existing conditions, observed, studied and recorded the difficulties on the ground. We paid for services if it was necessary and legitimate. We need to compare the existing delivery of public services with the standards of public services, and identify inconsistencies, difficulties and obstacles for citizens”.

She also noted that during some visits, staff members of government bodies having revealed she was unusual consumer, immediately became more professional and helpful - the effect was obvious. We have weak public services delivery because we allow doing it, we do not have relevant information or afraid demanding to respect our rights.

Information stands in the state bodies present very few information or it doesn’t exit at all. There is a queue everywhere, no schedules for clients, you can stand in a queue the whole day long and as a result shall leave without being served. The ethics of civil servants frequently are not respected. The buildings do not have the seats, even toilets for consumers.

By the service standard, there must be space for expectations and a place to fill in the documents. In reality, they are not present.

Following the results of public monitoring, the average ratio of standard performance of 10 pilot services is 52.2% and the average level of citizen’s satisfaction was 54.2%.

In December 2015, public monitoring results were discussed at the Government’s meeting with the participation of Prime Minister of the KR. The results of a pilot public monitoring have shown the Government’s efforts to optimize the system of public services, so far brought to no tangible results for citizens, who are not aware of themselves as the actors of this sphere, and make no effort to change the situation.

This confirms the fact that now one of the most urgent and important task is to involve the population in the practical application of service standards, i.e. implementation in practice of mechanisms for public monitoring of the qualitative public services. For the citizens who know their rights and obligations of civil servants it is much easier to achieve qualitative public service.

Public monitoring in the disposal of the authorities is the most powerful management tool - the initiatives and needs of citizens as final customers of public services.

It is important to realize that improving the quality of public services depends on both of sides - state bodies as providers and active position of citizens as consumers who are using these services in daily life, i.e. we are. I am confident that only citizens themselves can regain a dignity. Join us to be an active citizen!

Ainura Kaparova, ("Capacity Development Facility" Project Coordinator) ainura.kaparova@undp.org

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