After over a decade of rapid economic growth in India, the biggest challenge facing policymakers at both central and state levels is to ensure 'inclusive' growth so that the gains from increased national income are shared by all sections of society. In particular, it is imperative that a high quality of basic services such as health and education be provided to all citizens, since these are not only ends in themselves, but also play a critical role in enhancing individual capabilities to participate fully in the growth of the economy. Central and state governments have recognized this as a priority area, but have shown a lack of imagination (like all their predecessors) in addressing the problem of service quality by focusing mostly on increasing spending and not enough on the question of how effectively the resources allocated are spent.
Concept of Service Delivery Capability
- Human resources: their number, quality, skills, and experience,
- Physical and material resources: equipment, machinery, building, furniture and fixtures,
- Financial resources: ready finance, access to sources for additional finance when needed,
- Information resources: pool of knowledge, databases, and
- Intangible assets: process designs, image and goodwill, patents, etc.
Organizations need to build new capabilities and upgrade existing ones, in order to ensure that they are able to fulfill the purpose for which they have been set up. In general, when organizations are created, they have limited resources at their disposal, and one of the activities that they must do is to find ways and means to access additional resources to improve their performance over time. With changes in the external environment of an organization, new methods to acquire new resources have to be tried out. Over a period of time, organizations that are not able to deliver high quality services, due to limitations on their current resources, must find out legitimate ways to augment their resources, so that they can deliver. This brings us to the issue of how to define 'high quality service' or 'service quality'.
Service Quality and its measurement
The word 'Quality' is generally associated tangible products that can be measured in terms of quality of its physical attributes such as (i) dimensions,(ii) angles, (iii) weight (iv) power (v) hardness, (vi) tensile strength,(vii) color, and many other physical characteristics. Understanding the aspects of 'Quality' in the context of services is comparatively more difficult, as there are no measurable physical or tangible attributes. Even where they exist they may not be directly effecting the essential nature of service. Therefore, Quality in Service is about 'what really matters to the service recipient'. Although this is the case with both goods and services, it acquires a special significance in the context of public service delivery in general, and service delivery under the Sevottam framework, in particular.
Parametres of quality of service delivery
In the implementation of Sevottam framework, three main areas have been found as the most common causes of inability to deliver services as per standards included in the Charter, and /or to meet expectations of service recipient citizens / clients. These are:-
- Absence of or incorrect understanding of citizen / client expectations,
- Lack of motivation and training of employees, involved in the service delivery and
- Non- availability of adequate Infrastructure for service delivery.
Under Sevottam, it is the responsibility of ministry / department / organization to examine its current position in respect of the three parameters and work towards bridging the existing gaps observed therein. For example, if the staff dealing with service recipients is not trained to deliver services as per standards in the charter, the organization has to arrange for the required training, either internally or externally, and also have a system of induction training for those who join the organization later on from time to time.
Grievance Redress Mechanism
This section should contain information relating to the following items:
- Name and contact details of Public Grievance Officer
- Helpline number/Website URL to lodge grievance
- Response to be expected by person lodging the grievance
- Timelines for redress
Stakeholders / Clients
This section should contain the list of stakeholders / clients who have been consulted for setting service standards. The stakeholder consultations done for the Strategy development process may be used for the purpose of setting standards as well.
Responsibility centers and Subordinate organizations
This section should contain a list of the Responsibility Centers and Subordinate Organizations under the administrative control of the Ministry/Department. Information in this section should include references to the service standards of the Responsibility Centers and Subordinate Organizations, how to lodge a grievance against them, and the role of the Ministry/Department in ensuring that they have set standards for service and are delivering services accordingly.
Indicative expectations from service
Recipients This section should contain responsibilities of the Citizens / Clients if they are to avail efficient service delivery at the standards stated in the Charter. Examples of this would include submitting completed application forms along with all the required enclosures, duly attested where required; cross-checking for information or the latest position on a matter on the Department's website before raising a query or a grievance etc.