Latest articles of Fekadu G. Governance on the Ground in Ethiopia2013-11-08T15:14:39Z<p>The concept <em>good governance</em> emerged as a development agenda by World Bank twenty years ago. The 1989 World Bank study, &ldquo;Sub-Saharan Africa &ndash; from Crisis to Sustainable Growth&rdquo; (1), indicated good governance as a public service that is efficient, a judicial system that is reliable, and an administration that is accountable to the public. In its 1992 report entitled &ldquo;Governance and Development&rdquo;(2), the Bank defined good governance as &ldquo;the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country&rsquo;s economic and social resources for development&rdquo;.</p> <p>Further in the 1994, the &ldquo;<em>Governance: The World Bank&rsquo;s Experience</em>&rdquo; (3) report identified four elements of good governance: <em>Public-sector management,</em> <em>Accountability, Legal framework for development, and</em> <em>Transparency and information. </em>On the other hand, the Asian Development Bank (4) stated <em>Accountability, Participation, Predictability </em>and<em> Transparency</em> as basic elements of good governance<em>.&nbsp; </em>The African Development Bank and African Development Fund (5) on their part came with <em>Accountability, Transparency, Combating corruption, Participation Legal and judicial reform</em> in support of good governance in the continent<em>. </em>UNDP &lsquo;s policy document, &ldquo;Governance for Sustainable Human Development&rdquo; (6), listed <em>Participation, Rule of law,</em> <em>Transparency, </em><em>Consensus orientation,</em> <em>Equity, Effectiveness and efficiency,</em> <em>Accountability </em>and <em>Strategic vision as </em>essential characteristics of good governance<em>. </em>Furthermore,<em> </em>authors like Graham, Amos and Plumptre (7) tried to set five principles of good governance for the 21st century. These include <em>legitimacy and voice, direction, performance, accountability and fairness</em>, and linked them with the UNDP&rsquo;s features of good governance. Common to all are accountability, transparency, participation, reliable judicial and legal system and the rest are somehow mutually inclusive.</p> <p>The Twelve Ethical principles in Ethiopian civil Service have stemmed from the aforementioned lists of good governance constituents. Decentralization, public-private partnership, and other change management models have been echoed for years. However, the practice on the ground remains an area of scrutiny.</p> <p><strong>Here are few <em>not-good governance</em> practices in Ethiopia</strong></p> <p>Where the Federal Audit General&rsquo;s three or more consecutive years report ranked education sector among the top as very poor in managing public finance, but schools and universities have faced shortage of education facilities and citizens&rsquo; are crying for quality education; on the other hand Speaker of House of the parliament and top government officials are defending that it does not mean a corruption;</p> <p>- Where bribery, extortion, favoritism, or nepotism in selecting teachers for promotion, upgrading, or grants; fraud to obtain teaching jobs; capture of recruitment by groups with vested interests; fraud in certification (transcripts and certificates) &mdash;risks are high;</p> <p>- Where your literacy and numeracy program with whatsoever name like <em>Integrated Functional Adult Education</em> (IFAE) found to be astray and indeed evaluated as downsides of the sector for the last three or so years but millions left illiterate;</p> <p>- Where some classrooms in the inner city of Addis are left empty but children in the peripheral areas either attend school on shift bases or have never been to school; when it is seldom possible for the government to ensure national curriculum implementation and support educational institutions to prepare citizens&rsquo; in line with the education policy objectives;</p> <p>- Where the drafted education law is downplayed for unknown reasons; and unlike Republic of South Africa&rsquo;s education and finance ministers, ours are not being taken to court over poor standards at schools. But, startlingly promoted to the level of deputy PM;</p> <p>- Where Ethiopian Telecommunication downsized its employee size and employed &ldquo;letter&rdquo; economics in its naming (from 26 to 12 letters of Ethiotelecom) without any significant improvements in the service; working under exacerbating connectivity problem that is found to be a bottleneck in the business and others activities; contradicting with e-governance principles; negatively affected career of those who were laid off and their families;</p> <p>- Where the sole electricity supplier corporation always emphasizes on transformation capacity related problems for frequent power interruption; and labels the citizens government &ldquo;dependent&rdquo; (<em>tebakinet</em>), but too late to respond to the poor quality procurement of equipments;<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>- Where the state enterprises like regional water works and construction have been gripped in corrupt acts and the projects (Borena, Addis Ababa Zuria, Fentale, Didesa area etc) ceased or left planned; but millions are thirsty, food insecure;</p> <p>- Where the civil service cannot address dissatisfactions in the pay scales; whereas sector officials&rsquo; willingness alone makes things to happen rather than research based reform via thorough scrutiny and job grading. Where some government organizations (<em><a rel="nofollow" href="">Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority (ERCA),</a></em> <em>Technical and Vocational Education, Training Center of competency, Ministry of Urban Construction and Development...</em>) have made a pay reform, others have been prohibited the vertical and horizontal career growth;</p> <p>- Where one of the major state revenue source&mdash; custom tax subject to swindle by merchants and ERCA employees and officials; where the current corruption scandal in the ERCA divulges the futility of salary increment as a corruption prevention instrument;</p> <p>- Where government officials are driving the latest Toyota models; villas and other accommodations valued in millions of birr are provided and indeed awaiting after their post; but urging public participation in development activities, telling us budget deficit; citizens are fighting to death on the worsening situation of urban transportation (even in areas off light train project); Where you as a &ldquo;citizen&rdquo; are told to give up a month salary for the second round to finance Grand Millennium Dam Project, but consulted only on payment period (a monthly salary in how many years?) than let you participate on the amount&nbsp; you afford;</p> <p>- Where the food item and other consumption goods price hike, but the regulatory measures intensifying than resolving the problem; when the consumers&rsquo; right protection and consumers&rsquo; cooperatives cannot stabilize the market;</p> <p>- Where grievances related to quality service provision fall on deaf ears, but traditional denunciation and self denunciation have been taking place in government offices without any value addition or often worsening the situation;&nbsp;</p> <p>Finally, wrap up with what Camilla Louise Bjerkli concluded after a 7-year (2004-2011) thorough investigation of urban environmental governance in Addis Ababa which likely holds true for other sectors:&nbsp;&ldquo;As long as the culture within [the] city administration and its political control persist and as long as this political control dominates the relationship between the city administration and civil society it is most likely that there will not be any improvements in the city... It is critical that the Ethiopian government be willing to genuinely commit to the policies it has adopted and to change its ways of asserting control.&rdquo;</p> <p>Notes</p> <p>1. World Bank, 1989. <em>Sub-Saharan Africa &ndash; from Crisis to Sustainable Growth: A Long Term Perspective study</em>. The World Bank, Washington DC</p> <p>2. World Bank, 1992. <em>Governance and Development</em>. The World Bank, Washington DC</p> <p>3. World Bank, 1994. <em>Governance: the World Bank&rsquo;s Experience.&nbsp;</em>The World Bank, Washington DC</p> <p>4. Asian Development Bank (AsDB), 1995. <em>Governance: Sound Development Management</em>. <a rel="nofollow" href=""></a> accessed 4/3/2013</p> <p>5. African Development Bank &amp; African Development Fund Bank Group Policy on Good Governance. November 1999<strong> </strong><a rel="nofollow" href=""></a> &nbsp;accessed date 10/3/2013</p> <p>6. UNDP, 1997. <em>Governance for Sustainable Human Development</em> <a rel="nofollow" href=""></a> accessed date 13 /3/2013</p> <p>7. John Graham, Bruce Amos and Tim Plumptre, 2003. <em>Principles for Good Governance in the 21st Century Policy Brief No.15</em>. Institute of Governance</p> <p>8. Camilla Louise Bjerkli, 2013. <em>Governance on the Ground: A Study of Solid Waste Management in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia</em> in <em>International Journal of Urban and Regional Research </em>37(4):1273&ndash;87 July 2013</p>Grievances fall on deaf ears2013-11-08T11:36:26Z<p>The post-1991 shift in political ideology, accompanied by the introduction of federalism, enabled Ethiopia to have regional governments with delimited constitutional authority. Each of these regions has executive organs in charge of implementing policies. The civil service sector is the major constituent of these organs, but is well noted for its inefficiency and ineffectiveness.</p> <p>The major bottle neck seems to be the governance aspect, with principles of good governance more advocated than practiced. The futile attempt of major reforms in the sector attributes to a lack of good governance.</p> <p>The sector has an experienced grievance-handling mechanism, though it lacks uniformity and varies from one office to the next. The introduction of Citizens&rsquo; Charters further promotes grievance-handling and redress mechanisms in the Ethiopian civil service. The practice on the ground is worth a mention, however.</p> <p>Very recently, I made a visit to the Oromia Region Education Bureau for the first time in ten years. The first time I was in the Sar Bet Oromia Bureaus&rsquo; compound, I saw many teachers outside and inside (on corridors) the building.</p> <p>Their faces are full of grimace. Some were seen putting their hands on their chin and others bowed and gazing at the soil between their legs, as if they are searching for something abstract. There were also female teachers with kids on their back, crying.</p> <p>In the numerous times I visited within a month, I regularly saw people crying, particularly female teachers. The reason, of course, relates to their transfer from region to region or zone to zone. By and large, family-related problems, like &ndash; the different working locations of spouses, relative or spouse death, divorce and family health &ndash; are the major cause of teachers having to transfer from place to place.</p> <p>People in charge of all these matters in the teachers development process are more often than not in meetings. Besides, there is a common reply for any query about teacher-related issues and that is &ldquo;let the committee meet and decide&rdquo;.</p> <p>No one from the service seekers knows the members of the committee to ask when the actual date will be or how to get access to the decision. Of course, someone from the teachers development process could fix the date abruptly, but this is only to convince the teachers to leave the room, rather than in a bid to solve the problem.</p> <p>Some experts often use unofficial and abusive phrases like, what I personally witnessed in the case of the regional transfer of a female teacher from another region to Oromia &ndash; &ldquo;I can send you back to where you came from&rdquo;. I can observe neither the practice of the 12 ethical principles by the teachers development process experts, nor the elements in the citizens&rsquo; charter that the bureau drafted, here.</p> <p>But, one of the events I saw was more distressing than others. A female teacher, who has worked for the last five years in a region other than Oromia, got a transfer opportunity after years of trying. She heard the news much later than the usual time of announcement and was ecstatic for a moment.</p> <p>She was married and a mother, but the marriage could not last long and ended in a legal divorce. This is the very reason she wanted to transfer to Oromia.</p> <p>According to the existing inter-bureau working procedure, the teacher brought all the necessary documents to the education bureau. However, she only knew her zonal placement after a month&rsquo;s stay in Addis Abeba.</p> <p>This is due to the procrastination in the date of the committee meeting, with contradictory information also from one expert that the transfer was in exchange of someone in a similar discipline and would thus not require a committee decision. This truth was later revealed, when the Bureau handed over a placement to the teacher.</p> <p>Having the letter at hand, the teacher who had been struggling to afford daily life in Addis Abeba with the absence of close relatives, headed to the zone where the education bureau assigned her. She packed all of her domestic utensils and other facilities, even though it was difficult to manage for a person in an unfamiliar place, travelling to the indicated zone.</p> <p>Besides, the transport cost was not an easy burden for a woman like her, who has been recently divorced and forced to move to another workplace. The letter succinctly indicated that she was sent in exchange of another teacher, who was named.</p> <p>Sickeningly, here happened the tragedy. The zonal education office told her that there was no teacher&nbsp; by that name in the zone and that they cannot help her. Nothing is more shocking than such an event for the poor teacher.</p> <p>She has been psychologically debilitated. She spent a lot of money in transportation and other associated costs.</p> <p>Phone calls by the teacher from the zone to the bureau were not replied to with words of excuse, but rather simple phrases &ndash; &ldquo;Okay, it is a mistake very natural to human being. Please go to your original zone&rdquo;.</p> <p>She appealed to either be placed in the zone she had travelled to or to get closer to her parents. No one from education bureau was willing to hear her, however.&nbsp; The endeavour made by one of her cousins, who has been enrolled in summer education at Addis Abeba University (AAU), to deal with the bureau was futile. They also told him that yes it was wrong, but she must go to the other zone.</p> <p>When asked about rights and accountability issues, they urged him to leave the office or they would call the police. Indeed, they supposed the teacher herself should come and deal with such an issue, which is really another additional suffering for her.</p> <p>My experience has rightly shown me that the regional education bureau lacks the very principle of grievance handling and redress of the citizens&rsquo; charter in public service. Besides, the issue of rights also comes into play, as this teacher was misled by experts and officials in the teachers&rsquo; development process to go to wrong zone. She surely has a right to be compensated.</p> <p>Moreover, accountability is central to citizen-centred service delivery. The experts who processed the transfer and the official who signed the letter are the ultimate accountable parties. This also holds true for the Bureau, as it could not institutionalise the grievance-handling and redress mechanism properly.</p> <p>Could it not be possible to solve the situation at the bureau level, rather than bringing the issue to court? Why is there no system to compensate individuals ill-treated due to mistakes made by the service providers?</p> <p>How many of us are facing such malpractices in our civil service? Where is the servant mentality in the civil service? Where is the essence of citizens&rsquo; centered service delivery?</p> <p>How many service seekers are respected and having their voices heard?</p> <p>Many questions continue to be left unanswered in how our civil service system is, or is not, functioning.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>By Fikadu Nigussa <br /> Fikadu Nigussa is a lecturer at the Ethiopian Civil Service College. He can be contacted at</p> <p>Published on Sep, 08, 2013 [ <em>Vol</em> 14 <em>,No </em>697] Addis Fortune</p> <p></p>Cross Country Experiences of Citizens’ Charter Implementation2013-08-14T17:17:28Z<p><strong></strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">BY: Fekadu<em>Nigussa (Lecturer in Ethiopian Civil Service University;; P. o. box 150377)<br /></em></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Background</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Traditional system of administration failed to ascertain efficient and effective goods and service delivery. Extensive body of public administration literatures argue that traditional administrative system is ineffective, insensitive, inefficient, and often hostile to the very people to they are supposed to serve (Hood, 1991; Pollitt, 1991; Osborne and Gaebler, 1992; Peters, 1996; Osborne and Plastrik, 1997; Rhodes,1997). This veracity together with the quest to promote productive and allocative efficiency and &nbsp;maintain public agencies responsiveness to the demand of citizens necessitated restructuring and reshaping of public sector in the last three or more decades.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">As such a set of different management techniques and practices collectively called New Public Management (NPM) have been firstly adopted by English-speaking nations: New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States and then to reform administration and management in government in the 80s. This fact later became a point of critics that NPM is only practicable in Anglo-American context. However, many OECD countries carried out public administration transformation based on the Anglo-American approach (Larbi, 1999; Pollitt, 2000; Toress, 2003). It has been also accused of erasing the traditional &ldquo;commitment to public service&rdquo; aspect from careers in government or it has undermined the accountability of public services to their communities and it has failed to deliver the promised efficiency and effectiveness of public services. Some critics of the movement are saying that, like most management fads, NPM has run its course or will do so shortly (Lynn, 1998; Pollitt, 2000; McNabb, 2009).</p> <p style="text-align: left;">The major impetus for the change in public sector during the last three or four decades attributes to various developments in the world: the citizens&rsquo; quest for efficient and effective public service delivery,the economic and fiscal pressureson governments in the 70s and early 80s and the revival of new right politics (<em>&lsquo;Reganomics&rsquo; and &lsquo;Thatcherism&rsquo;</em>). The proliferation of management ideas generated, packaged and marketed by international management consultants, donor advocacy and lending conditions of international financial institutions, notably the IMF and the World Bank, the spread of global markets related to financial integration and liberalization and the resultant competition and the growth and use of new information technology are the major drivers of restructuring the public sector, and rethinking and reshaping the role of government (Larbi, 2003; Jahangir, 2008<em>)</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">NPM have also evolved along the lines of the New Public Service (NPS) being a mutually reinforcing and normative model of managing service delivery in the public sector. NPS is beyond the usual quality service delivery; it suggests citizens to be effective and responsible where as administrators should be responsive to the voices of Citizens. On the other hand, values such as efficiency and productivity should be placed in the larger context of democracy, community and the public interest (Denhardt and Denhardt, 2007).Client-oriented, mission-driven, quality-enhanced and participatory management to heighten efficiency and effectiveness of public service delivery is fashion of the day. Satisfaction of the needs of the citizens is therefore core element of the public sector reform, and it led to private sector practices initiated mechanisms which focus on the quality of the services to be delivered to the citizens (Jahangir, 2008). The aforementioned developments led to the inception of Citizen&rsquo;s Charter (CC) in UK by the conservative government of John Major in the late 1980s. It aimed&nbsp;at&nbsp;enhancing&nbsp;standards&nbsp;of&nbsp;service&nbsp;delivery&nbsp;and&nbsp;making&nbsp;governance&nbsp;more&nbsp;transparent&nbsp;and accountable and became operational in 1991.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">As an effort to respond to growing demands for accountability, transparency and efficiency on the one hand, and to pressures from the community for more and better services, on the other, UK developed CC. And, Several&nbsp;countries have formulated their own: &nbsp;Australia (Service Charter, 1997), Belgium (La Charte des utilisateurs des Services publics,1992), Canada (Service Standards Initiative, 1995), France (Charte des services publics, 1992), India (Citizen&rsquo;s Charter, 1997), Jamaica (Citizen&rsquo;s Charter ,1994), Malaysia (Client Charter, 1993), Portugal (The Quality Charter in Public Services, 1993), Spain (The Quality Observatory, 1992), Bangladesh (Citizen&rsquo;s Charter, 2007), South Africa (People First, 1997), Sweden (Citizens&rsquo; Service, 1998), Tanzania (Customer Service Charter, 2001), US (<em>Customers First, 1994</em>) and most recently Ethiopia (Citizens&rsquo; Charter, 2012). Others including Argentina, Costarica, Hongkong, Namibia and Samao have followed similar trend (OECD, 1996; Toress, 2003; Drewry, 2005; CGG, 2008; MoCS, 2012). However, Drewry noticed that actual contents of charters and the motives for introducing them differ from one country to another. In some countries there has been substantial motivation to improve performance; in others the main goal seems to have been to justify government performance; while in some cases a major driving force has been pressure from aid donors.</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Experiences of UK, India and South Africa</strong></p> <ul style="text-align: left;"> <li><strong>United Kingdom</strong></li> </ul> <p style="text-align: left;">When you google the phrase Citizens&rsquo; Charter, you get more than 2.1 million results. Following UK&rsquo;s first initiative, many countries embarked on designing and implementing charter approach to efficient and effective service delivery. Literatures reveals that the first initiative for CC happened in the early 1990s in UK under the then Prime Minister John Major. However, at local level (Harlow and York) and in Inland Revenue, the origin of CC dates back to the late 1980s<strong>.</strong> John Major&rsquo;s speech made to <em>The Economist Conference on the Streamlining of the Public Sector on 27th January 1992</em> divulges the reasons to launch CC initiative:</p> <p style="text-align: left; padding-left: 30px;"><strong><em>&ldquo;</em></strong><em>The Citizen&rsquo;s Charter came about because I was consistently receiving the same strong message. That it was high time to raise standards of performance in our public services. That was the demand of the consumer. And it was also the wish of those who work in the public sector themselves. They had the skills, the dedication, and the enthusiasm to do it. All they needed was the freedom and the encouragement to try out new ideas. The Citizen&rsquo;s Charter gives them the chance.</em><strong><em>&rdquo;John Major (1992)</em></strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">The first six major principles of UK&rsquo;s CC were&nbsp; (i) The setting, monitoring and publication of explicit standards, (ii) Information for the user, and openness in the availability of that information, (iii) Choice wherever practicable, plus regular and systematic consultation with users, (iv) Courtesy and helpfulness, (v) Well-publicized and easy-to-use complaints procedures and (vi) Value for money.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">According to Parrado (2006), the Charter standards were often too vague to be meaningful and largely devised without consulting with the full range of stakeholders. Besides, in-spite of the commitment to &lsquo;non-discrimination&rsquo; there was little regard to the needs of those who do not use the services, such as ethnic minorities. The &lsquo;customer&rsquo; rhetoric of citizen&rsquo;s charters sometimes created a &lsquo;money-back&rsquo; mentality and even misuse of financial redress. Citizen&rsquo;s Charter programme was rather confused&mdash;promises contained in the charters were often vague and ambitious, confounding the aim of defining a tangible set of entitlements to public services that people could readily understand and use (House of Commons, 2008). Drewery (2005) also noted that UK&rsquo;s CC early challenges include lack of Bill of Rights (though CC talked a lot about rights), nor a Freedom of Information Act. It comprised a m&eacute;lange of aims and exhortations, rendered more amorphous by the diversity of the services and institutions to which it applied.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Tony Blair&rsquo;s Labor government relaunched CC under the new label &lsquo;Service First&rsquo; program in 1998 and&nbsp; elaborated the six principles in to nine: (i) Set standards of service, (ii) Be open and provide full information, (iii) Consult and involve, (iv) Encourage access and the promotion of choice, (v) Treat all fairly, (vi) Put things right when they go wrong, (vii) Use resources effectively, (viii) Innovate and improve and (ix) Work with other providers (Beale and Pollitt, 1994; Toress, 2003; Center for Good Governance, 2008). The programme was eventually dismissed and integrated the &lsquo;customer service&rsquo; idea into the Charter Mark Programme. Charters still play an important role for public transport, education, hospitals and housing but they are now on voluntary basis (Parrado, 2006).</p> <p style="text-align: left;">UK Parliament (2008) stated that the Charter Mark was an integral part of the Citizen&rsquo;s Charter programme. It was launched in 1992 as an award for organizations that had achieved excellent customer service in the public sector. To win a Charter Mark the organization has to demonstrate excellence against the following nine Charter Mark criteria which correspond to the principles of public service delivery, namely, (1) Performance Standards; (2) Information and openness; (3) Choice and Consultation; (4) Courtesy and helpfulness; (5) Putting things right; (6) Value for money; (7) Use satisfaction; (8) Improvements in service quality; and (9) Planned improvements and innovations (DARPG, 2013). In the first year of its operation there were 35 Charter Mark award holders; ten years later, in 2002, this figure had grown to 949. At present there are around 1,600 organizations with a Charter Mark, with some 400,000 people working within those organizations. This represents about seven per cent of the public sector.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">A review made by Bernard Herdan in 2006 revealed that Charter Mark holders were generally very positive about the scheme and its effectiveness in raising service standards. Nevertheless, the review concluded that its impact in raising standards across the board had been blunted by low take-up and low public recognition of the scheme. The review also noted a perception, among those that were aware of it, that the Charter Mark was out of date and old-fashioned&rsquo;s report. An official final validity date of Charter Mark was 30 June 2011 and application was officially closed in 2008 when the new Customer Service Excellence Standard became sole award for customer service in the public sector. Customer Service Excellence Standard is made up of 5 criteria with 57 elements in total. Assessment is carried out via a desktop review by an authorized assessor followed by an onsite visit lasting one to three days (sometimes more) depending on the size of the department or organization being assessed.</p> <ul style="text-align: left;"> <li><strong>India</strong></li> </ul> <p style="text-align: left;">India is one of the countries who followed the foot step of UK in designing and implementing CC. In 1994 consumer rights activists for the first time drafted a charter for health service providers at a meeting of the Central Consumer Protection Council in Delhi.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Two years later in 1996, the Prime Minister initiated the CC program on a national level. The Citizen&rsquo;s Charter initiative in India saw fruition on the state level at a conference of Chief Ministers held in May 1997 where the &ldquo;Action Plan for Effective and Responsive Government at the Centre and the State Levels&rdquo; was adopted, paving the way for the formulation of charters among ministries, departments and agencies that have significant public interaction. As of June 2007, the DARPG updated their website to list 829 Citizen&rsquo;s Charters, with Central ministries having 118 charters and State &amp; Union Territories having 711. Indian government&rsquo;s Right of Citizens for time bound delivery of goods and services and rederessal of their grievance bill of 2011, chapter III article 4(1) stipulates that every public authority shall publish CC within six months of the commencement of the act.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">However, an initial evaluation in 2003 of citizen&rsquo;s charter development show lack of stakeholder consultation, which could have resulted to lack of improvement in client satisfaction and quality of services provided.&nbsp; In 2007 after ten years of implementation, the Public Affairs Centre carried out a comprehensive national review of charters in India mainly to evaluate the quality of the charters and its impact in increasing transparency in the public service. The review showed that no charter in India contain the essential components of an internationally accepted charter. Generally, end-users and civil society organizations were not consulted in the development of the charters (Public Affairs Centre, 2007).</p> <p style="text-align: left;">An assessment commissioned by the government reveals similar results. Charter contains outdated and poor quality service standards (Indian Institute of Public Administration, 2008). Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievance (DARPG) identified the major obstacles of CC implementation: lack of focus attributes to top down approach of the initiative, inadequate training and sensitization of employees and citizens, concerned officers transfers and reshuffle during early formulation and implementation of the charters that hampered the progress, unrealistic standards and conceptual challenges related with CC. On the other hand, DARPG has identified a professional agency to develop an appropriate Charter Mark scheme, and a prototype has been developed by the professional agency and is in the process of validation in identified organizations.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <ul style="text-align: left;"> <li><strong>South Africa&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </strong></li> </ul> <p style="text-align: left;">Prior to 1994, the apartheid-led government in Republic of South Africa suppressed access to information in an effort to stifle opposition to its racial supremacy. With the advent of democracy, government emphasized the importance of transparency and sharing of public information. This was reflected in the South African Constitution which stipulates that &ldquo;transparency must be fostered by providing the public with timely, accessible and accurate information&rdquo; (Public Service Commission, 2008).</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Supporting this Constitutional value, in October 1997 the White Paper on Transforming Public Service Delivery (the Batho Pele, &ldquo;<em>People first&rdquo;,</em> White Paper) was introduced to put into effect the commitment of the Government to extend services to all citizens, not merely a privileged few. The overall purpose of <em>Batho Pele</em> was to transform the Public Service into a people centred institution. The intention was that with the implementation of the principles of the <em>Batho Pele</em>, service delivery and accountability by government departments would improve (Job Mokrongo, 2003; Public Service Commission, 2008). The <em>Batho Pele</em> principles are <em>consultation, setting service standards, increasing access, and ensuring courtesy, providing information, openness and transparency, redress and value for money (Republic of South Africa, 1997).</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">The &ldquo;<em>Batho Pele</em>&rdquo; campaign has been renewed and intensified by government during the post 2004 election period. Part of the strategy would be to adhere to election promises made to citizens. However, the then government audit of the initiative indicated that the execution of the correct monitoring and evaluation standards had been a problem; most provinces were reliant on conventional approaches than being innovative to service access; there was lack of integrated access strategy that recognized all new initiatives; lack of &ldquo;service user relationship training&rdquo; in response to the persistent public perception that government officials were uncaring. In addition, redress was a problem especially in the social service sectors. The implementation of <em>Batho Pele</em> is further hampered by the fact that the public had not understood the principles initially and were not holding Departments accountable. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: left;">World Bank (2011) revealed that PSC reports are contrasting each other in a premises that the [2008] report found only 5 percent of the departments consult on their service standards, however, the earlier report of the commission divulged only 12 percent of interviewed departments perceived that they were performing poorly on consultation.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">The PSC also assessed the implementation of the redress principle of <em>Batho Pele</em> (PSC, 2006). It was found that 90 percent of national departments and 84 percent of provincial departments had some form of complaints handling system. But many of these systems are not formalized: they do not have written guidelines, record complaints, or monitor and evaluate service delivery. Standards and complaint procedures are not reviewed to determine if the departments&rsquo; redress and client-care objectives are being met. Only 29 percent of national departments and 41 percent of provincial departments had set standards for redress. Besides, only 29 percent of national departments and 18 percent of provincial departments indicated that they have a specific system to monitor and evaluate performance on redress. Only 27 percent of all departments indicated having a system that allows external stakeholders to assess their performance on redress.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;The 2008 PSC report on Openness and Transparency implementation of <em>Bato pele</em> principle indicated that the self rated status of the principle is good. But, the study has also shown that the assessed departments lack clear standards, targets and procedure manuals in their implementation of Openness and Transparency (PSC, 2008).</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Conclusion</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">It is indisputable that as a part of the public sector reform program initiated in the late 1980s and early 1990s, CC initiative has contributed to the improvement in public service delivery of many countries. However, there have been challenges in the design and implementation of the charter.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">The aforementioned experiences of UK, India and Republic of South Africa in CC implementation challenges range from conceptual to implementation aspects. In UK CC is currently confined to few sectors and often on voluntary basis; whereas in countries like India every public authority shall publish it. The is succinctly stipulated in<em>Right of Citizens for time bound delivery of goods and services and rederessal of their grievance bill of India</em>. The Republic of South Africa&rsquo;s <em>Batho pele</em> is a mandatory in a sense that it meant for the support of constitutional value: fostering transparency.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Lack of stakeholder consultation due to the top-down approach of the initiatives together with inadequate designing and implementation capacity of owned departments count more.&nbsp; The design and implementation challenges in the Case of India and South Africa attributes to lack of customization. Both countries seem to copycat the experience of UK with little attention paid to local context: organizational culture, existing expertise, service seekers culture of transparency and appeal among others.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">For effective CC design and implementation public sector reform experience, organizational culture, demand from and knowhow of the public, implementation capacity of public sectors and committed leadership play a paramount role. Thus, should all these issues be taken into consideration, there would be a leap- forge in efficient and effective public service delivery.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>References</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">- Beale, V. and C Pollitt. 1994. &ldquo;Charters at the grass-roots: A first report.&rdquo; Local Government Studies 20(2):202-225.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">- Center for Good governance (CGG), 2008. Citizen&rsquo;s Charters Hand Book</p> <p style="text-align: left;">- Denhardt, Janet v. and Robert b. Denhardt, 2007. The New Public Service: serving, not steering-expanded edition M.E. Sharpe, Inc. New York</p> <p style="text-align: left;">- Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievance (DARPG), 2013. <a rel="nofollow" href=""></a> accessed on 4/6/2013</p> <p style="text-align: left;">-Drewry, G. &lsquo;Citizen&rsquo;s Charters: Service Quality Chameleons&rsquo;, in Public Management Review, 7(3), September 2005, pp. 321-40.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">-Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Ministry of Civil Service (FDRE MoCS), 2012. Citizen&rsquo;s Charter of Ethiopia: Addis Ababa</p> <p style="text-align: left;">- Hood, C. 1991, &lsquo;A Public Administration for All Seasons&rsquo;, <em>Public Administration</em>, 69: pp. 3-19</p> <p style="text-align: left;">-House of Commons, 2008. From Citizen&rsquo;s Charter to Public Service Guarantees: Entitlements to Public Services Twelfth Report of Session 2007&ndash;08 <em>Report, together with formal minutes Ordered by The House of Commons to be printed 15 July 2008</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">-Indian Institute of Public Administration, 2008. Citizen&rsquo;s Charter in India: Formulation, Implementation and Evaluation: Indian Institute of Public Administration.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">-Jahangir, Hossain, M., 2008<em>. Seminar paper on Citizens Charter: A Study on Dhaka City Corporation.</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">- Job Mokgoro Consulting. Batho Pele Policy Review: Final Report and Recommendations. September 2003.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">-John Major&rsquo;s speech made to <em>The Economist Conference on the Streamlining of the Public Sector on 27th January 1992</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">-Larbi, G.A., United Nations Research Institute for Social development, Discussion paper 112, 1999, updated 2003;</p> <p style="text-align: left;">-Lynn, L., 1998. The New Public Management as an international phenomenon: a skeptical viewpoint. In L. Jones and K. Schedler (eds) <em>International Perspectives on the New Public Management </em>(JAI Press, Greenwich, CT)</p> <p style="text-align: left;">-McNabb, David. E. 2009. The new face of government : how public managers are forging a new approach to governance Auerbach Publications Taylor &amp; Francis Group, United States of America</p> <p style="text-align: left;">-OECD, 1996. <em>Service Quality Initiatives</em>. Paris</p> <p style="text-align: left;">-Osborne, David and Peter Plastrik, 1997. <em>Banishing Bureaucracy: The Five Strategies for Reinventing Government</em>, Addison-Wesley.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">-Osborne, David and T. Gaebler, 1992. <em>Reinventing Government: How the Entrepreneurial Spirit is transforming the public Sector</em>, Reading, Addison-Wesley.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">-Parrado, Salvador Improving customer orientation through service charters UNED and Governance International &ldquo;Quality Management in the Public Sector&rdquo; Vilnius 27-28 March 2006</p> <p style="text-align: left;">-Pollitt, C. 1990.&nbsp; <em>Managerialism and the public services,: the Anglo-American Experience</em>, Oxford, Blackwell.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">-Pollitt, C., 2000. Is the emperor in his underwear? An analysis of the impacts of public management reform. <em>Public Management </em>(2)2:181&ndash;200</p> <p style="text-align: left;">pp. 3-19</p> <p style="text-align: left;">-Public Affairs Centre, 2007. India&rsquo;s Citizen&rsquo;s Charters: A Decade of Experience, Bangalore: Public Affairs Centre.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">-Rhodes, R.A.W. 1997, <em>Understanding Governance: Policy Networks, Governance, Reflexivity and Accountability</em>, Buckingham, Open University Press.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">-The Public Service Commission (PSC), 2006. &ldquo;Report on the Evaluation of the Implementation of the <em>Batho Pele</em> Principle of Consultation.&rdquo; <a rel="nofollow" href=""></a>.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">-The Public Service Commission (PSC), 2008. Report on the implementation of the Batho Pele principle of Openness and Transparency in the Public Service. Republic of South Africa.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">-Torres, Lourdes, 2003.&nbsp;&nbsp; Service charters: reshaping the government-citizen relationship. The case of Spain. Conference of the European Group of Public Administration (EGPA) September 3-6, 2003, Lisbon, Portugal</p> <p style="text-align: left;">-UK Parliament, 2008 <a rel="nofollow" href=""> accessed 3/6/2013</a></p> <p style="text-align: left;">-World Bank, 2011. Accountability in Public Services in South Africa. Selected Issues.</p>Less Paying Civil Service Reforms Unsustainable2013-08-14T17:16:11Z<p>I read the viewpoint, headlined &ndash; &ldquo;Complacency Prolongs Subpar Reforms&rdquo; (Volume 14, Number 692, August 4, 2013) by Yohannes Woldegebriel. It was intended to provide a reply to my previous commentary. Yohannes offered a confusing analysis of my view, and made a lot of points regarding the issue of reforms from his own viewpoint.</p> <p>Interestingly, his reply is slightly baffling as he was misguided in his inference of my stance, mentioning &ndash; &ldquo;it is apparent Fikadu gravitates, in favour, towards the success of BPR&rdquo; and desires &ldquo;to seize the opportunity in the course of outsourcing and take the advantage once again&rdquo;. Besides, the fact that the viewpoint thoughtlessly included (Balanced Score Card) in its arguments, I wish Yohannes could say more about it and other reforms, rather than singling out Business Process Reengineering (BPR).</p> <p>The very issue Yohannes argued against is the success of BPR in the Ministry of Education (MoE) and the former Ministry of Trade &amp; Industry (MoTI). Actually, the case was employed to have a balanced view, rather than being biased.</p> <p>And, there is a source about the early success story of these two ministries, though this is not a guarantee for their current status. Getachew Hailemariam and Richard Common&rsquo;s research, entitled &ndash; &ldquo;Civil Service Reform in Ethiopia: Success in two Ministries&rdquo; &ndash; tells the story concisely.</p> <p>That is exactly why I focused on the problem of sustainability, at least to keep the positive aspects of the reform.</p> <p>Evidently, I did not preach the success story of BPR any more than Yohannes did in his reply. But, he failed to tell us what makes the &ldquo;Documents Authentication &amp; Registration Office&rdquo; better in implementing BPR and why, for example, the Immigration and Nationality Affairs Main Department could not scale-up this practice.</p> <p>Moreover, Yohannes is very sure about the purpose of BPR as a &ldquo;irreplaceable political weapon to remove undesirable individuals&rdquo;. He is a lawyer and could provide us with any number of recorded court cases in relation to those civil servants who studied abroad and were forced out of the sector.</p> <p>In any way, it is impractical to think that BPR is introduced to dislodge highly experienced civil servants and young researchers who studied abroad. What percentage of civil servants belong to this category, pre and post-BPR implementation?</p> <p>This may require further research to answer comprehensibly, rather than offerign mere presumption.</p> <p>However, it is really important to note the unmet targets of BPR implementation. One can also compare the relative service delivery status of pre- and post-BPR in many government organisations.</p> <p>At least the ceremonial commencement and announcement of &ldquo;efficient and effective&rdquo; service delivery by different offices, should allow the service seekers to ask where the improved service delivery is. The essence of radical and transformational change in the business process left on paper, as I stated, &ldquo;more recalled than practiced&rdquo;.</p> <p>Besides, I argued that BPR championed restructuring office layouts and the budget allocated outweighed the benefit. Of course, I have not accounted or acquired evidence on how much was spent, but Yohannes perceived this as an intentionally omitted fact. Yet, there is room for him to come up with tangible information I wish I could get my hands on.</p> <p>Yohannes&rsquo; argument, which states that &ldquo;BPR always offered a good opportunity for subtle, unscrupulous and ambitious civil servants&rdquo; seems absurd. There should be a human resource development plan in any organisation; no matter how it might be abused in favour of the dearest and the nearest.</p> <p>Thus, it is not BPR that brought about such malpractices. The past civil service, even without BPR, suffered from such pitfalls.</p> <p>What BPR did was to bring civil servants the complex task of daily individual performance appraisal in the early phase, and later bi-weekly. It made things tighter than the way Yohannes argued, although these days things are in reverse.</p> <p>The misunderstood hard fact in Yohannes&rsquo; viewpoint is the lack of job ranking and incentive packages within the BPR implementation. The problem came about because many civil servants were not paid for the position they held and waited for almost two years.</p> <p>However, I am still not arguing on the amount of pay that is adequate for a given position.&nbsp; It is indeed a fact that many civil servants were afraid of losing their posts in the early days of the BPR, after which they suddenly gained hope in attaining a fair payment for the position they held.</p> <p>The contrasting reality demotivated many civil servants. Yohannes&rsquo; article said nothing about the current state of public service delivery and manifestations, which I stated, citing the public meetings held in Addis Ababa and issues frequently raised that needed to be addressed sooner or later.</p> <p>After showering me with dozen critiques on the issues I raised earlier, Yohannes ended up with too general recommendations; some not wholly different to what I stated. He indicated the necessity of &ldquo;valid reforms&rdquo; and &ldquo;real and sustainable change&rdquo;.</p> <p>What are these reforms and changes? Are they reform tools?</p> <p>He even added &ldquo;proper studies&rdquo; to his list of recommendations, though he criticised the knowledge-based and bottom-up approach of mine. But, I concur with him on the necessity of practicable legal support for the reforms we are implementing. Equally important will be the citizens&rsquo; role in demanding improved service delivery.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>By Fekadu Nigussa<br /> Fekadu Nigussa is a lecturer at the Ethiopian Civil Service University (ECSU). He can be contacted at</p> <p>Published on Addis Fortune August 11, 2013 [ <em>Vol</em> 14 <em>,No </em>693]</p>Pick-Drop Reforms May Bring Fatigue to Civil Service2013-08-14T17:14:04Z<p>Since 1991, the EPRDF-led government has embarked on a series of reform programmes.&nbsp; These have hinged on the ideological shift that took place in the country, from a centralised command economy to a free market economy. In the early 1990s, the government launched the Structural Adjustment Program, consisting of the Civil Service Reform Program (CSRP) as one of its components. The phased reform measures have been taken by the government, and the first phase focused on the restructuring of government institutions and a retrenchment programme.</p> <p>The second phase was launched in 1996. The five sub-programs of the phase, entailed &ndash; the top management system, expenditure management and control, the human resource management, service delivery and ethics. The sub-programmes were further split into a number of projects.</p> <p>There were six projects under service delivery, including &ndash; the development of service delivery policy, grievance handling directives, award system in the civil service, methodical integration of related public service (centre links), and preparation of technical directives for improving civil service delivery and service delivery standard directives. However, even by the evaluation of the government itself, undertaken in 2001, the implementation of the projects remains an expectation. This is attributed to numerous factors.&nbsp; There has been too much focus on technical aspects, rather than changing attitudes of the workforce; impulsive implementation and a lack of committed political leadership</p> <p>The Ethio-Eritrean war and the split of EPRDF, which was followed by the reformation in the party, were challenges that slowed down the reform process for some time. However, having evaluated the pros and cons of the previous program, the government then called for the accelerated implementation, as a part of the capacity building strategy. Indeed, the Ministry of Capacity Building (MoCB) was established in 2002 to take care of capacity building activities that had previously been taking place in a fragmented way.&nbsp; Also, the intention was to give centralised leadership and directives to government organisations at various levels. The ministry was later merged with the Federal Civil Service Agency, in 2010, and named the Ministry of Civil Service (MoCS).</p> <p>In 2004, however, the Public Sector Capacity Building Program (PSCAP) emerged, comprising of six programmes &ndash; civil service reform, tax system reform, justice system reform, district level decentralisation, urban management capacity building and ICT development. It aimed at improving the scale, efficiency and responsiveness of public service delivery at the federal, regional and local levels.&nbsp; In doing so, it strived to&nbsp; empower citizens to take part in development and promote good governance and accountability. Later, in 2010, the establishment of the MoCS necessitated the revision of the PSCAP, as per the duties and responsibilities of the ministry.</p> <p>A new implementation arrangement became evident with a series of awareness creation workshops, on &ndash; change management, performance management, management by objectives, strategic planning and management, business process re-engineering (BPR) and balanced score card (BSC). The development of quick wins to improve service delivery across all the government institutions became a fashion.</p> <p>Nonetheless, the major challenge the EPRDF faced from opposition parties, during the 2005 parliamentary election involved the lack of good governance and the unsolved public grievance in relation to service provision. In fact, at this time, the people punished the EPRDF using the ballot box.</p> <p>This was the reality of events in the Addis Abeba city elections, where the opposition party &ndash; the Coalition for Unity &amp; Democracy (CUD) &ndash; won. A study on local democracy and decentralisation in Ethiopia indicated that there was a clear lack of inter-agency coordination among the government agencies involved in public service provision.&nbsp; This was especially true in urban areas. It also found that the stakes in the provision of services were not clearly delineated, between the government and the private sector, in many public-private partnerships (PPPs).</p> <p>Once more, the EPRDF held a series of internal evaluations and identified a plethora of problems that needed to be solved, sooner or later. Together with other development efforts, the government reaffirmed its commitment to improving performance and service delivery, throughout the entire civil service.</p> <p>Accordingly, the MoCB launched the BPR process in all government organisations at all levels. As the BPR did not bring rapid improvement in institutional performance, a reformulation of Performance Based Management (PBM), accompanying the introduction of Balanced Score Card, as a management, evaluation and communication tool, emerged in 2008.</p> <p>The experience over the past years, with the introduction of performance related systems, however, points to the need for a coherent and consistent plan.&nbsp; This is necessary in order to avoid confusion and conflicting priorities during implementation.</p> <p>The five year Growth &amp; Transformation Plan (GTP) put all the reform agendas under the umbrella of capacity building and good governance. The service delivery reform is also an ongoing process, still evolving today.</p> <p>Some, including the former minister of the Civil Service, argue that the reform tools, such as BPR, failed to address the intended objective of delivering efficient and effective public services. However, the success of BPR in the Ministry of Education (MoE) and the former Ministry of Trade &amp; Industry (MoTI) stands in contrast to this.</p> <p>The sustainability of the momentum is the question urgently demanding an answer. Of course, BPR is a champion in restructuring the office layout. The budget allocated to restructure the office layout, however,&nbsp; may well outweigh the efficiency and effectiveness of the service provided thereof.</p> <p>Indeed, the design concept of end-to-end and one-stop-shops were more often recalled than implemented in many organisations. Besides, BPR failed in the sense that momentum in the early implementation stages could not be sustained.&nbsp; This was as it was not accompanied by job grading and incentive packages.</p> <p>The challenge of designing and implementing an effective BSC is another area of concern. It was introduced as one of the reform tools which would help to manage, communicate and measure. From the very outset, however, there were misunderstandings at the design level.</p> <p>In the Addis Abeba City Administration, for instance, some bureaus began the design and implementation at the same time. The challenges at the design level included confusion on how to set higher level objectives. The bureaus focused on their own mission. Later, however, among the 18 higher level objectives, almost all bureaus adopted 17&nbsp; and only one unique objective, relating to their mandates, remained. This resulted in cascading difficulty, as well as performance measuring problems</p> <p>Despite the EPRDF&rsquo;s contribution in reshaping and restructuring the public sector for improved socio-economic development of Post-Dergue Ethiopia, there has been a general syndrome in sustaining reforms. The massive bodies of literature indicate that implementation of the civil service reforms in Ethiopia face many problems.&nbsp; Such issues include &ndash; a lack of a properly integrated and sequential approach, inconsistency in performance evaluation system, civil servants resistance to change, lack of accountability in performance management system, inefficient technological readiness and the absence of a well-designed remuneration system, to mention but a few. Many experts trained abroad to technically support implementing agencies are becoming private consultants.</p> <p>The same holds true for trained experts at different office levels. The government neither facilitates to let them stay nor is able to capacitate others to replace them. This attributes to the poor human resource management system existing in the civil service.</p> <p>Grievance on public service delivery has reached a peak in recent times. An evidence to this is the latest discussion that top government officials held with Addis Abeba residents in which inefficiency, ineffectiveness and unethical practices were raised as major challenges of public service delivery. The long queues experienced at Lehulu payment centres and other service providing government organisations are also worth mentioning.</p> <p>Of course, we see and hear about the ceremonial commencement of reform tools from different government organisations. Some are even seen misusing the media to exploit the existing misunderstanding and confusion among employees.</p> <p>The previous pick-drop experience of different reform tools in the civil service sector may perpetuate &ldquo;a reform fatigue&rdquo;.&nbsp; This would be an obstacle, preventing future efforts being made. Thus, it is important to put in place knowledge-based, bottom-up and integrated reforms, rather than embarking on multiple models.</p> <p>Most of the reform tools implemented so far follow a&nbsp; top-down approach. There is no room for a given sector to customise the tools within its own context. This ought to be changed into a wholesome bottom-up approach.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> By Fekadu Nigussa <br /> Fekadu Nigussa is a lecturer at Ethiopian Civil Service University (ECSU). He can be reached at Published on Addis Fortune July 28, 2013 [ <em>Vol</em> 14 <em>,No </em>691] Can Citizens’ Charters Succeed in Ethiopia?2013-08-14T17:11:21Z<p style="text-align: justify;">If one searches the phrase &lsquo;citizens&rsquo; charter&rsquo;&rsquo; on Google, they would get more than 2.1 million results. The charter is a written document that constitutes a list of services, standards, rights and duties of service seekers, grievance handling and redress mechanisms, and the address of the service provider agency, among others.</p> <p>The first citizens&rsquo; charter initiative dates back to the early 1990s. United Kingdom&rsquo;s charter approach was in an effort to respond to growing demands for accountability, transparency and efficiency, on one hand, and to the pressures from the community for more and better services, on the other. This was best expressed by John Major&rsquo;s speech made to The Economist Conference on the Streamlining of the Public Sector, on 27th January 1992: &ldquo;The citizen&rsquo;s charter came about because it is high time to raise standards of performance in our public services demand of the consumer&hellip;.And, it was also the wish of those who work in the public sector themselves. They had the skills, the dedication and the enthusiasm to do it. All they needed was the freedom and the encouragement to try out new ideas&rdquo;.</p> <p>Following the UK&rsquo;s first initiative, several countries, from Australia to Jamaica, France and South Africa, formulated their own. And, most recently &ndash; in 2012 to be exact &ndash; the Ethiopian Ministry of Civil Service announced that every government organisation shall have their own charter.</p> <p>However, the actual content of charters and the motives for introducing them differ from one country to another. In some countries, there has been substantial motivation to improve performance and in others the main goal seems to be to justify government performance. In some cases, a major driving force has been pressure from aid donors, while in some others it follows the bottom-up approach.</p> <p>Tony Blair&rsquo;s Labour Government relaunched the charter in UK under the newly titled &lsquo;Service First&rsquo; program, in 1998. This elaborated the principles further. Later on, the initiative was dismissed and the &lsquo;customer service&rsquo; idea was integrated into the charter mark programme &ndash; an award for organisations that achieved excellent customer service in the public sector.</p> <p>However, charters still play an important role in public transport, education, hospitals and housing, but they are now on voluntary basis. The charter mark programme was replaced by a new customer service excellence standard, which became the sole award for customer service in the public sector, in 2011.</p> <p>The citizen&rsquo;s charter initiative in India saw fruition on the state level at a conference of the Chief Ministers held in May 1997. The &ldquo;Action Plan for Effective and Responsive Government at the Centre and the State Levels&rdquo; was then adopted.&nbsp; This paved the way for the formulation of charters among ministries, departments and agencies that have significant public interaction.</p> <p>However, an initial evaluation of the citizen&rsquo;s charter development shows a lack of stakeholder consultation, which could have resulted in improvements in client satisfaction and the quality of services provided.&nbsp; After ten years of implementation, it was found that no charter in India contained the essential components of an internationally accepted charter.</p> <p>Generally, end-users and civil society organisations were not consulted in the development of the charter.&nbsp; The charter was found to contain outdated and poor quality service standards.</p> <p>The major obstacle of citizens&rsquo; charter implementation &ndash; a lack of focus &ndash; could be attributed to the top-down approach of the initiative, inadequate training and sensitisation of employees and citizens, the improper reshuffles during early formulation and implementation of the charters, unrealistic standards and conceptual challenges.</p> <p>In the Republic of South Africa, the white paper on transforming public service delivery was introduced in 1997 to put into effect the commitment of the government to extend services to all citizens. The overall purpose was to transform public services into a people-centred institution and promote accountability. It was driven by principles, such as &ndash; consultation, increasing access, providing information, openness and transparency.</p> <p>However, the then-government audit of the initiative indicated that the execution of the correct monitoring and evaluation standards had been problematic. Most provinces were reliant on conventional approaches, rather than being innovative to service access&nbsp; and&nbsp; there was lack of integrated access strategy, which recognised all new initiatives. In addition, redress was a problem especially in the social service sectors.</p> <p>In contrast, the concept of a citizens&rsquo; charter is a new phenomenon in Ethiopia. It appears on the civil service agenda of the country, three decades after its birth in the UK.</p> <p>Since its introduction, in 2012, trainings were given to different organisations on the very essence of the charter, necessities and constituents. Some organisations, including the Ministry of Civil Service (MoCS), the Ethiopian Railway Corporation (ERC), the Federal Ethics &amp; Anti-Corruption Commission (FEACC), the Textile Industry Development Institute (TIDI) and other federal and regional organisations, have drafted their own.</p> <p>Of course, the Ethiopian civil service has developed the twelve ethical principles in service provision. A decade has passed echoing and posting these principles.</p> <p>Thus, there remain no concrete standards to measure. Thus, the charter approach to public service delivery continues to preach the same old principles.</p> <p>But, the question is; is a citizens&rsquo; charter a necessity for Ethiopian public service delivery?</p> <p>The rightful answer is yes. The charter approach to service delivery could enhance the transparency and accountability of the public service delivery system.</p> <p>In Ethiopia, the public service delivery system, although an improvement compared with the past, still is not up to the expected standards. This could be attributed to the absence of a serving mentality, loose accountability, a lack of information about service standards and requirements, and poor grievance handling and redress mechanisms. Thus, if the charter approach is well-designed, communicated and implemented, it can address these problems.</p> <p>What are the potential challenges in implementing the charter?</p> <p>A conceptual challenge is the first issue to be addressed in the design and implementation of the charter approach. For an ordinary citizen, the phrase citizens&rsquo; charter can be vague.</p> <p>There should be a local and plausible phrase to express it. This is challenge faced more often than not by service seekers.</p> <p>It may also not be easy to design and implement a citizens&rsquo; charter from one&rsquo;s own organisational point of view.&nbsp; Experiences of other countries shows us the importance of crafting fully-customised charters.</p> <p>But, in our public service, different reform tools have been introduced and their level of success has varied from sector to sector. In general, however, there has been a tradition of copycatting, as well as deficits in sustaining the implementation of reform tools.</p> <p>Citizens&rsquo; charters may also suffer from these common setbacks.&nbsp; For instance, during BPR implementation, some standards are found to be irrelevant, some activities were missed and the quality dimension of a given activity was hardly measurable. These same challenges of relevance and inclusiveness may hamper the success of the charters.</p> <p>On the other hand, the organisational culture of sustaining newly introduced procedures, systems, and reform tools will impact the effectiveness the charter approach to public service delivery. In the Ethiopian context, this might be the major bottleneck that the charter implementation faces.</p> <p>The experience the public sector has in designing effective communication strategies might also be another challenge. After a year and half since the herald of the charter approach in Ethiopia, I could only access the charters of two organisations online. But a charter has no value unless it is communicated well and the service seekers get access to it.</p> <p>What should be done to materialise the charter approach in public service delivery?</p> <p>Some tips could help. These include internalising the essence and the necessities of the charter approach, scrutinising the success and failure of newly introduced procedures and systems in the organisation, developing effective communications strategies and strengthening the legal support for accountability and transparency of service delivery.</p> <p>Yet, there could not be a one-size-fits-all formula for all organisations. Everything ought to be customised.</p> <p>By Fekadu Nigussa<br /> Fekadu Nigussa - &ndash; a lecturer at the Ethiopian Civil Service University (ECSU). Published on Addis Fortune August 04, 2013 [ <em>Vol</em> 14 <em>,No </em>692]</p>