It has been recognised world over that good governance is essential for sustainable development, both economic and social. The three essential aspects emphasised in good governance are transparency, accountability and responsiveness of the administration. “Citizens’ Charters” initiative is a response to the quest for solving the problems which a citizen encounters, day in and day out, while dealing with the organisations providing public services.
The concept of Citizens’ Charter enshrines the trust between the service provider and its users. The concept was first articulated and implemented in the United Kingdom by the Conservative Government of John Major in 1991 as a national programme with a simple aim: to continuously improve the quality of public services for the people of the country so that these services respond to the needs and wishes of the users. The programme was re-launched in 1998 by the Labour Government of Tony Blair which rechristened it “Services First”.
The basic objective of the Citizens’ Charter is to empower the citizen in relation to public service delivery. Six principles of the Citizens’ Charter movement as originally framed, were: (i) Quality : Improving the quality of services; (ii) Choice : Wherever possible; (iii) Standards :Specify what to expect and how to act if standards are not met; (iv) Value: For the taxpayers’ money; (v) Accountability : Individuals and Organisations; and (vi) Transparency : Rules/ Procedures/ Schemes/Grievances. These were later elaborated by the Labour Government as following nine principles of Service Delivery (1998) :-
• Set standards of service
• Be open and provide full information
• Consult and involve
• Encourage access and the promotion of choice
• Treat all fairly
• Put things right when they go wrong
• Use resources effectively
• Innovate and improve
• Work with other providers....