Improving transparency, accountability and responsiveness in Public Service

Each case study in this section concentrates on an initiative that has enabled the government to increase public access to information about government services. The best practices in focus aim at increasing the integrity and responsiveness of the public service by zeroing in on a public grievance and addressing the problem.

Integrity Assessment, Republic of Korea 23

Integrity Assessment of Public Organizations (IAP) by the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission (ACRC), Republic of Korea is an initiative to gauge the level of corruption in public institutions and disclose the results to the public, in order to mainstream them into the efforts of the Commission to curb corruption.

Prior to 2002, the existing measures adopted by the government of Korea to counter corruption had failed because of the sole focus on punishing the offenders, instead of preventing corruption. Hence a need was felt to shift to a pre-emptive approach to prevent corruption fundamentally and minimize the cost of addressing the problem. Before the launch of IAP, the ACRC relied on corruption perception surveys and other such programs. However, these programs were aimed at sectors at the macro-level such as defence, education and taxation. Situated in this context, the Integrity Assessment of Public Organizations was developed as a tool to supplement shortcomings of the existing programs in operation to counter corruption. Growing public pressure to improve government service also contributed to bringing in this initiative.

The objective of the program was to identify the public services most susceptible to corruption, guarantee public access to information regarding them and allow the public to monitor decision-making processes.

The Integrity Assessment model consists of three components to measure the integrity of each public organization:
  • Internal Integrity as assessed by the employees of an organization.
  • External Integrity as assessed by members of the public who actually receive the public services.
  • Policy Customer Evaluation as assessed by policy experts like journalists, lawmakers and other public officials while determining and implementing policies.

  • The final score of each organization is released after deducting points, by taking into account factors such as the number of officials who have been found guilty of corrupt practices and the amount of money involved. The ACRC analyses the assessment results to produce integrity scores and discloses them to relevant public organizations and the media. A ‘naming and shaming’ policy has been adopted, wherein, organizations which are ranked poorly face social pressures and in turn take voluntary measures to improve future assessment results.

    The assessment program has been instrumental in reducing corruption in Korea. Integrity scores have increased from 6.43, on a scale of ten in 2002 to 7.83 in 2013. The annually published results help raise public awareness about public sector integrity issues and are used as a reference index by the national assembly, the media and civil society groups to determine corruption trends and improvements in various public organizations.

    Public Service Delivery through e-Gov at the grassroots level, Bangladesh 24

    In a bid to provide public services at the doorsteps of citizens, the Government of Bangladesh with support from the UNDP, established Union Digital Centres (UDC) in the country under the Access to Information (A2I) program. The program is implemented by the Prime Minister’s Office and the Cabinet Division of Bangladesh. The UDCs were set up to connect previously isolated individual government offices in order to reduce the time and cost of availing a public service.

    The Digital Centres are one-stop information and service delivery outlets, which were expanded to all union pourashabhas25 in 2010. The initiative aims at reducing the digital divide in the country, and has been expanded from the rural to the urban areas. UDCs run on a unique public private partnership model wherein the building is provided by the government. The entrepreneurs, who are the employees manning the UDCs are private sector entities. The hardware and software support is jointly supplied by both private and the public sector. An interesting feature of the digital centres is that they employ 10,000 entrepreneurs, with half of the employees being women. The income earned from the services rendered goes to the entrepreneurs.

    To facilitate a smooth access to services, a digital centre blog has been set up. The blog, which is a participatory solution platform, has over 14,000 members, which include officials from district administration, entrepreneurs, service content partners, policy makers, ministers, secretaries and other officials. Over 3000 queries are posted on the blog monthly, with 80% of the questions being answered. Various public services, private and information services are offered by the digital centres, including birth registration certificates, university application forms, public examination results, and passport and visa application facilities. In addition welfare schemes, law related services, electricity bill payment, health and agricultural consultancy services, right to information (RTI) and simplified government services are also provided for.

    The entire program is coordinated from the top of the political hierarchy & this political commitment has contributed to the initiative’s success. The PMO & the cabinet division monitor the entire process, making an everyday account of the activities that take place. The UDCs, located at the lowest tier of local government institutions, have become one-stop service delivery points for the rural people of the country that help save time and money and also reduce visits to government offices for availing of services. The role of Central involvement in galvanizing the system to introduce technology in service delivery is the main takeaway from Bangladesh’s experience. Electricity, bandwidth and cyber security are some issues that pose obstacles. Solar panels have been built at some digital centres to address the problem of power cuts and to increase the bandwidth of the network. The mission is to connect all UDCs with optical fibres by 2017. Also, the Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory Authority has been established to keep a

    24 Background paper and presentation in Annex 7.2

    25 The lowest tier of government in Bangladesh

    check on cyber crimes. A major issue that remains unsolved is the shortage of skilled personnel to handle the new technology.

    Integrating Network and Community Participation for Effective Malaria Management in Tha Song Yang District, Thailand 26

    Integrated Capacity Development/ Capability Improvement Model (ICD/ CIM) for malaria care is an initiative conceptualized and implemented by the Vector Borne Disease Control Unit (VBDU) in the Tha Song Yang District, Tak Province, Thailand. A sustainable model of leveraging community participation to solve the problem has been used. Stress is laid on early detection of malaria to prevent further transmission.

    The need for this program was felt because the highest incidence of malaria in Thailand was reported in this district. A strength, weakness, opportunity and threats (SWOT) analysis helped formulate the objectives of the program. These included effective malaria management, reduced malarial morbidity and anti-malaria drug resistance, by fostering strong community support for the initiative. The stakeholders involved are the VBDU, Healthcare providers such as district hospitals, Local Administrative Organizations (LAO), Border Patrol Police Units (BPPU), NGOs and community health volunteers. They are involved in delivering malaria care, administering healthcare services, providing leadership and educating parents, students and migrants.

    The key elements of success of the program include redressal of grievances of people and mutual cooperation between agencies. The health workers, despite modest wages, are highly motivated and help enhance results. Hence, their retention is the key to the sustainability of the program. Moreover, re-training new volunteers is a major challenge. The benefits of the initiative include increased participation of government agencies and citizenry. Responsiveness to people’s needs and accountability of government organizations has also improved. Knowledge about malaria has increased, and there has been a concomitant rise in the awareness about other diseases afflicting the region. The number of cases of malaria has reduced from 10,294 in 2010 to 5,935 in 2012. The initiative has helped reduce the time and cost of getting health-care assistance for malaria cases and has helped build trust in the community.

    Mobile Seva, The National Mobile Governance Initiative, India 27

    Mobile Seva is a national mobile governance initiative by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY), Government of India. It allows government departments to deliver their services via mobile enabled channels, by providing them with a central platform to do so.

    26 Background paper and presentation in Annex 7.3

    27 Background paper and presentation in Annex 7.4

    Given that 76% users in India access the Internet through mobile devices, it was felt that mobile-based service delivery would be more useful as compared to conventional web- based platforms. Also, in rural areas access to laptops and electronic public services was especially low. In addition, a common platform for all departments was needed, as setting up individual platforms would entail huge investments of time, money and efforts by each department, which could be redundant.

    The key drivers of success included building a national policy framework on mobile governance. The stakeholders involved were kept in the loop from the beginning, with the adoption of an open consultation strategy. Public feedback was also sought after the draft consultation paper was prepared. An umbrella approach was adopted by making all m- enablement solutions available under one roof, thereby eliminating the need for government departments to create their own mobile platforms. Departments were provided with continuous hand-holding and support by DeitY. The process involved fast on-boarding of government departments, with over 1280 departments being able to offer their services on the m-platform by creating a simple account. The project is sustainable because it is owned, funded and implemented by DeitY, with support from PM’s Committee on the National e-Governance Plan. Technical sustainability is assured because the initiative is based on open standards and open sources. A business model is also being developed, wherein a user fees would be charged, such that the project becomes self-sustainable.

    Some features of the platform include a mobile application store with over 310 live apps on localized platforms using soft keyboards in Indian languages. The platform has even been used to track EVMs and find nearest polling booths. The project has led to savings in costs, time and efforts for departments and citizens. It has increased reach and access to government services for citizens, with all major telecom companies being on board.

    Key Takeaways

  • Political commitment and constant contact with the citizenry is important for the success of programmes. The success of all the initiatives in this section has been contingent on active public participation
  • Programs should aim to reach the remotest areas in a country and provide resources to the populace there.
  • An open consultation strategy with regular meetings with civil society members provides programs with the necessary intelligence and expertise.
  • Initiatives must be transparent in their approach and work towards increasing the accountability of government departments.