Ten public service institutions have adopted and undergone training to deploy Service Delivery Charters (SDCs) in their respective organisations to help improve public service delivery and curb delays – a major root-cause of corruption in the sector.
The institutions include Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Driver and Vehicle Licencing Authority (DVLA), Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), the Lands Commission, Ghana Fire Service, Commission on Human Right and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Registrar-General’s Department and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).
Adopting the charters comes at the back of a project titled ‘Using service delivery charters to promote business integrity in Ghana’, currently implemented by the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) and Private Enterprise Federation (PEF) with funding support from the Department for International Development (DfID).
The main objective for revisiting SDCs, which have been dormant for years, is for public service institutions to express commitment to service delivery in which published standards of service delivery are maintained; equal treatment of all end-users as service beneficiaries is encouraged; and transformation of the public service from a rules-bound bureaucracy to a results-driven organisation is accelerated.
It is also to ensure that public institutions live up to their obligations of acting in the interests of the people, as well as monitor, evaluate and improve their services for the people’s benefit.
An SDC, also referred to as Citizens Charter, is a statement of commitment that an institution or department makes toward delivering quality services. It sets out the standards of service that customers can expect from the public institution, and provides a checklist as well as how to make complaints or suggestions for improvement.
Project Consultant, Clara K. Beeri Kasser-Tee, explaining the relevance of ensuring compliance with SDCs in public institutions, indicated that over the years, service delivery in both public and private sectors in the country has been characterised by delays, poor quality service and lack of concern for the customer, with customers complaining of cumbersome procedures, opacity and unfair treatment – the ‘who you know’ syndrome; and these problems are attributed to lack of business integrity and corruption, which need to be curbed if the situation is to change.
“Our research has shown that most of these public service institutions had some SDCs in place, but even the internal workers of the institution are not aware of them; only few top executives know they exist and therefore they end up being some documents sitting somewhere because nobody makes recourse to them.
“Meanwhile, the nature of SDCs is that they are for all the employees – particularly the frontline officers whose duty it is to engage with the public/customers on daily basis; so they must know about them as well as their obligations and the implementation process,” she said.
She emphasised that if the public is not even aware that the institution has such a document, then it is as good as not having one – since the purpose of it is for the public to know what it entails and ensure they get exactly that, and sue the institution for any infringement.
“What’s new is that we have conducted a research and been able to link it to effective delivery of services and fighting corruption. So, we are looking at how to effectively use SDCs to fight corruption, provide more effective service to public, and make it possible to hold public service institutions accountable,” she stated.
The 10 institutions have commenced developing and putting together all the relevant requirements to launch and commence with the implementation; and other public service institutions have been encouraged by the CSOs to follow suit as engagements are still ongoing.