The subject of government officials not being ‘public servants’ but more the ‘dictatorial and unaccountable rulers’, has been an old concern in the service delivery debate in India. How do you make government officials feel a responsibility on the quality of their service delivery? If we can somehow get the answer to this question, we can unwrap the tremendous potential in our economy and improve our global image on ease of doing business in India.
At CIDCO we have decided to experiment with this as a vigilance project. . If we could capture immediately from the people who visit our offices, a numerical grade of feedback of the service given by the public employee they visited, we would have captured the missing chunk in a 360 degree assessment of employee performance.
The mechanics is simple–With a feedback form enabling visitors to grade the employee/s visited on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being poor service and 5 being good service received from our employees, we can build a reputation grade for every public facing employee over time. A significant way by which corruption happens in india is by delaying files and services. The better the reputation grade, it would mean that the employee is overall doing his/her job in the prescribed timeframes and therefore, the less such employees would need attention from the Vigilance department. The reputation monitor can throw up another feature- that the reputation grading is poor for most of the employees in a particular department. Clearly in this situation, something is wrong with the rules/procedures followed in the department’s decision making process, and the Vigilance department can ask the concerned department in CIDCO to review the same for a more competent and satisfactory service delivery from that department and better reputation grading from the public. We may also occasionally encounter poor grading to an officer whose integrity is beyond doubt–which could be because of his/her inefficiency(again the service delivery timelines come in the picture but not for corruption) or because of discourteous behaviour. All these exceptions would come into focus for corrective measures to enable the employee to improve his public feedback grading.
Such a system could, in principle, create systemic incentives for public employees to be more service quality focussed instead of the current incentives to be focussed on wielding power over the hapless public service seekers.
We plan to combine this Reputation Monitor project with the access controls at our building, in such a way that the feedback slip is part of the visitor pass and the security personnel at the building exit will ensure that exiting visitors fill the feedback slip before depositing the visitors pass at the gate.
An important aspect for this project is to compute the reputation grade for the employees periodically and make this information available to the departments’ personnel so that it could create peer pressure among employees to better each other on the feedback grading. It would also enable the department chiefs to supervise the few employees with continually score poor reputation grades. The goals of this project would also be well served by making the reputation grading, which is the public’s feedback on our individual service delivery, a public information. Our individual reputation is important to each one of us and this human psychological fact could be put to work as the pivot for change in a government office for making it easier for people to deal with government officials.