Improving Local Governance and Service Delivery with the Citizen Report Card (CRC). By Basith Inadeen. In Parliament Research Journal: Human Rights and Good Governance. Vol.1, No. 04, 2014. Pp. 61-68. Published by the Research Division, The Parliament of Sri Lanka.
The role of the State in the development and progress of developing countries has often been significant and positive. There is, however, a growing concern that the productivity of State investment leaves much to be desired and that the dominant role that the government has played has not been matched by a high level of public accountability and good governance. State monopoly has often resulted in non-responsiveness to the people, inefficiency and corruption, even though, recent changes in economic policy and reforms of government have introduced greater competition withinthe economy.
Most governments are responsible for providing essential services to the people. Governments spend huge amounts of resources to provide services such as:
• Drinking water
• Health care and
In some instances, governments award contracts for provision of these essential services to private entities. Some central and state governments decentralizeservice provision to local units of government. A nation’s citizens depend on theseessential services. However, in many places, the quality of public services remains inadequate and unreliable.
• How might groups of citizens take the initiative and demand for better services?
• How might progressive government officials use feedback from citizens to bring about internal reforms?
• How might policymakers use citizen feedback to improve the policies and regulations that shape service provision?
User satisfaction or feedback along with governance assumes significance in the context of providing public services and the growing needs of the people. Traditionally, policy makers have perceived users’ issues to be outside the ambit of governance. However, in recent times, new areas of conflict are emerging that are central to governance. For instance, public services are coming in direct conflict with service providers like health, education, electricity, garbage clearing, drinking water, irrigation transportation (bus and train) and welfare programmes such as Samurdhi and Divineguma and so forth.
A proactive civil society is the strength of many developed countries. Civil society institutions in developing nations have, on the other hand, been less active in challenging the abuses of public power with the exception of the consumer movement and a few dedicated groups that have resorted to public interest litigation. Many sectors and activities of the government will become more accountable and perform better only when citizens and customers of these services play a watchdog role and challenge abuses.
A tool, now popularly known as the Citizen Report Card (CRC), provides a possible starting point for citizens and governments to ensure and improve local governance.
Hence, there is a need to rediscover and reposition local governance as a part and parcel of a much broader framework of governance. With this backdrop, Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA) - www.cepa.lk has taken a project - the Civil Society Organisations (CSO) – Local Authority (LA) Action and Partnership Programme (CLAPP) - as a part of its initiative towards promoting good governance.
The overall objective of the project is to promote an inclusive and empowered society in Sri Lanka that is actively involved in development and poverty reduction.
The specific objective being to enhance the capacity of and cooperation among civil society groups and local authorities in Northern Sri Lanka, to foster good governance in development processes and facilitate local service delivery.
The Journal is available for reference at the CEPA Resource Centre and at the Parliament Library.
About the Writer
Basith is a Research Professional attached to the Communications and Policy Programme atthe Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA). He obtained his first degree in Social Science from the University of Colombo. He has carried out extensive field work on data collection andhas coordinated various assignments in the development sector forthink-tanks and research institutions. He is presently the task managerfor a project onGovernance the Non State Actors – Civil society Organisations and Local Authorities Partnership Programme (NSA-CLAPP) Project.
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