DISTRICT COLLECTORS WORKSHOP by decree

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									NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF
  DISTRICT COLLECTORS
      19-20 MAY, 2005




SUMMARY OF CONCLUSIONS
          OF
  REGIONAL WORKSHOPS




DEPARTMENT OF ADMINISTRATIVE REFORMS
       AND PUBLIC GRIEVANCES
           GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
          DELIVERY OF SERVICES IN EDUCATION AND
                     HEALTH SECTORS

Education

A.     Policy level initiatives

        Flexibility at district level is required for context specific interventions.
Allocation of resources should be in line with the targets set. Inadequate allocation
leads to insufficient infrastructure. Funds transfer should be based on performance
with specific focus on backward States. There is a need to have a re-look at the
curriculum and more para teachers should be employed.

B.     Evaluation

        Internal and external evaluation should be regularly done based on identified
indicators for schools and teachers. Evaluation should be on the quality of student
learning rather than on administrative issues.        Grading of schools should be
highlighted through the use of ICT to promote healthy competition.

       Monthly reporting of school functioning to be given to VEC which will be
discussed in Gram Sabha.

C.     Transfer of Teachers

        Transparent transfer policy for teachers should be adopted. There are too
many teachers in urban areas and there is a shortage in remote areas. Transfer should
be done specifying/keeping in view rural and remote area tenures. Transfer within
the block can be done by block level authority and within districts by district level
authority.

D.     Retention of students

         Administration of components like scholarships, mid-day meal, free text
books etc. should be flexible as per the local needs. To bring out-of-school children
to the schools all segments of society like NGO, Panchayat should be involved.
Adequate budgetary support should be made available to ensure infrastructure like
toilets, playgrounds, furniture etc.

E.     Motivation for teachers

        For appointment of teachers, there should be objective selection criteria.
Interference in selection process should be avoided. There should be a scheme to
recognize performance of good teachers. Teachers should be left out from elections,
census, etc. duties
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Health

A.       Policy Initiatives

     (1) There are too many programmes to address too many diseases both at the
         central and the state levels. These need to be integrated to provide holistic
         health services to the common man.

     (2) Procurement of medicines centrally has led to several malpractices. As far as
         practicable purchase of medicines should be done close to the point of
         consumption. Adequate capacity should be built up at the district level to
         procure medicines transparently and competitively.

     (3) Hospital administration should be developed through a cadre of professionals
         who should be given the responsibility for attending to the management
         aspects of hospital administration such as procurement, human resource
         development, hygiene etc. This should be introduced in the major hospitals to
         start with.

     (4) Greater emphasis needs to be placed on alternative health systems such as
         Ayurveda, Homeopathy and Naturopathy which are not only more easily
         available but also cost effective.

B.       Infrastrucutre

     (1) The quality of health care available to the villagers need to be upgraded
         significantly. The service provided by PHC needs to be enhanced both by
         way of additional staff as well as equipments – to be made available for 24
         hours.

     (2) Centres of excellences in health care may be created at the district level in a
         phased manner so that the flow of patients to the cities in search of health care
         is checked.

     (3) The medical infrastructure in each district should be rationalised keeping in
         view the geographical conditions and the need to provide adequate health care
         to dispersed communities.

     (4) Cheap medical insurance may be introduced using a network of hospitals.


C.       Capacity Building

     (1) The ANM is at present the critical link between the medical professional and
         the patients. She is expected to deliver a large number of complex services in
         the villages. The capability and the skills of the ANM need to be upgraded
         significantly as it will have a direct impact on the quality of services provided.
         ANMs to be made to own the tasks rather than have target oriented approach.
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     (2) Medical professionals should be given periodic refresher courses to upgrade
         and update their skills.

     (3) The ANM posted in the village should in a position to track the growth and
         development of children particularly female in the families under her charge.
         The nutritional status of the children also needs to be monitored regularly.

D.      Systemic changes

     (1) Medical officers in charge should be given adequate flexibility and delegation
         of financial powers to meet the day to day requirement of materials.

     (2) The data available on the use of health facilities, services provided and
         materials consumed should be used to plan programmes realistically.

     (3) Technological options available to provide quality health care in inaccessible
         areas such as mobile health services and telemedicine should be considered.

     (4) Contractual appointment of medical personnel from the private sector should
         be considered to fill gaps in availability of medical infrastructure.

     (5) Role of PRIs – Health committees to be emphasized as a check on delivery of
         health facilities.

     (6) ACRs of CMO and Deputy CMOs to be written by DMs with regard to health
         delivery programmes.


E.      Emphasis on Sanitation & Hygiene

     (1) The rural health programme needs to be supported by an equally if not more
         substantial programme to improve sanitation and hygiene in the villages.
         Since the major part of the diseases originate from water contamination and
         poor sanitary practices greater attention need to be given to these aspects.

     (2) Poor nutrition and sanitation leads to hospitalization which is again followed
         by the same vicious circle of morbidity. The basic causes of morbidity should
         be addressed through systematic monitoring and support of discharged
         patients. Medical services and children and maternal welfare services should
         therefore converge at the village level.

F.      Monitoring Mechanism

     (1) Absenteeism of staff need to be addressed by creating a mechanism for
         monitoring in which the village panchayat and the patients are involved. The
         information regarding duty hours of Medical personnel should be made
         available to the public.

     (2) Major hospitals in the district should be evaluated with regard to the quality of
         the service provided by them. This should be done through a score card
         mechanism which bench marks service levels and quality.
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                  DELIVERY OF SERVICES AND ROLE OF
                        LOCAL INSTITUTIONS

     A. Existing Service Delivery System

     (1) The capacity of the service providers, whether official or panchayat or other
         community groups/institutions, to deliver services needs to be improved
         substantially. A comprehensive programme for training development and
         upgradation of their skills needs to be put in place.

     (2) In States like Meghalaya, states with areas that fall under the purview of the
         Sixth Schedule of the Constituion, the relationship between the local bodies
         such as the dorbars and the district and state administration need to be
         formalized. At present interaction between them is ad hoc and erratic. Hence
         their potential for delivery of services remains unutilized.

     (3) A system of documentation, dissemination, review and implementation of
         district and sub-district level initiatives and innovations must be ensured so
         that it may be sustained and replicated.

B.      Focus on Service Delivery by stakeholders

     (1) The Communitization initiative as legislated and implemented in Nagaland
         may be adopted as a model in the states, with regional and local variations, so
         that local users of a service provided by government are in a position to
         manage and regulate its delivery. This will require a period of consensus
         building and political support for enacting the required legislation and
         involvement. It was felt that this initiative offers a mechanism to tap the
         innate energies of the village communities and their involvement in matters
         directly affecting them.

     (2) Mechanisms to resolve/avoid conflict between PRIs                    and    user
         groups/stakeholders eg. Rules, structures need to be put in place.

     (3) The local community/user group should be given the freedom to decide upon
         the end use details of the service provided and manage the funds available for
         it eg. Local community should be able to decide the type of food to be served
         to children and women receiving supplementary nutrition at the Anganwadi
         Kendra under the Integrated Child Development Scheme.

C.      Need to Target the most Vulnerable

     (1) There is an urgent need to channelize available resources for development to
         most backward areas. Although identification of backwardness and targeting
         at the regional and district levels has been done there is a need to identify the
         most vulnerable population groups at the village level. In this regard, the
         Village Vulnerability Index developed and utilized in Paschim Medinipur
         district, West Bengal may be adopted, with modifications as and where
         required, for ranking villages according to their level of vulnerability, state
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        and district-wise. There should be a targeted approach to investment of
        development funds. For this one should go down to the village level (and not
        merely Block or Gram Panchayat level) to identify the most backward villages
        through some index of backwardness such as Village Vulnerability Index or
        the Composite Backwardness Index. The index of backwardness may be
        based on different components of the Census-2001 data, including both the
        demographic as well as the amenities data. The weightages to be ascribed to
        different parameters may vary from state to state depending on situations.

     (2) A time-bound programme for rapid area development of the most vulnerable
         villages and blocks may be formulated.


D.      Transparency in Service delivery

     (1) A transparency clause may be built into every programme/scheme delivered
         by government and non-governmental agencies. Not just the objectives and
         details of a scheme being implemented should be publicized but the mode of
         its implementation should also be transparent.

     (2) The NEC needs to be revamped by streamlining procedures and enabling
         quicker approval of schemes. In the absence of flexibility many programmes
         have not had the desired impact. The role of DONER as the nodal agency for
         development of the NE also needs to be given a second look.


E.      Capacity Building

     (1) A knowledge centre should be established in NE to document best practices,
         train personnel and function as a think tank for ideas relevant to this region.
         This can be achieved by synergising the activities of various departments
         who already have outlets in this region. DONER should take initiative in this
         regard.

     (2) The existing guidelines regarding implementation of projects in NE should
         take into account the limited working season and the need to spend funds
         quickly and efficiently. The budget releases have to be in line with this
         ground reality.

     (3) A programme should be developed to give exposure to officers working in the
         NE to visit more advanced states to study and replicate innovations. They
         should also be encouraged to acquire exposure to international training
         opportunities.

F.      Improving Education delivery

     (1) In education sector, to ensure accountability of the teachers to the community,
         their services may be monitored by the Village Education Committee (VEC).
         Their salary may be distributed and their leave may be approved and disbursed
         through this committee. The VEC, consisting of guardians of the students
         may also monitor the quality of lessons and even cooked mid-day meal
         programme. In villages/areas where there is no access to primary and
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        secondary education, schools under EGS (Education Guarantee Scheme) may
        be set up. However, the para-teachers should be adequately trained.



G.      Improving health services delivery

     (1) The Subsidiary Health Centres may be similarly controlled by the Village
         Health Committee (VHC). Services in disease prevention, family planning
         and vaccination may be provided by adequately trained women Self Help
         Groups (SHGs). Since many Primary Health Centres are not manned by
         doctors, Ayurvedic doctors or diploma holders (with three year training, like
         RMPs) may be deployed at the Sub-Centre levels to provide basic health
         advice. They may also be empowered to refer patients to upper tiers of the
         health infrastructure such as Sub-Divisional or District hospitals. Even the
         private medical practitioners practising in the rural areas may be engaged for
         providing health services. These steps would help in extending services of a
         health professionals to the villages, since many MBBS doctors are unwilling
         to serve in the villages. Service charge may be introduced for services for
         non-BPL citizens in government run hospitals.               Private/Community
         participation in improving health infrastructure should be allowed to leverage
         the abilities of NGOs and other service oriented organizations.
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       MODERNISATION OF DISTRICT ADMINISTRATION
                AND CAPACITY BUILDING

A.     Procedures and processes

        There is a need to simplify procedures based on the feedback received from
beneficiaries, NGOs and other stakeholders. Various forms used by public can be
standardized at district and State level. Pilot modules for simplified procedures and
processes can be developed on identified services and circulated for application.
Service delivery at the doorstop can be considered in some areas with the help of
established institutions, like Post Offices. There is a felt need to develop a Citizen
satisfaction index for the core services provided by various District offices and third
party quality assurance can be made mandatory.

B.     Redressal of grievances

       Grievances from the citizens should be received/registered through all modes
of communication like ‘911’, ‘Integrated Voice Response System’, verbal,
applications forms, SMS, phone and website. Creation of village/area ’YAHOO’
groups can be considered to address specific problems. There should be an effective
grievance tracking system to ensure redressal in a time-bound manner.

C.     Management of Information

        A Group may be constituted to study multiple databases and suggest
integration on a common format. Resources in a district may be mapped and a district
information system may be created incorporating GIS (Geographic Information
System). Formats may be restructured to enable easy flow of information to people.
Dissemination of information should be done proactively through news bulletins,
websites and other forms of Information, Education and Communication.

D.     Improvement of District Offices

         There is s a need to modernize workplace with better designs and aesthetics to
ensure clean, hygienic and motivating environment. Some flexibility should be
allowed at district level to rightsize and reallocate staff to improve work ethos. Better
communication systems viz. satellites, video conferences etc. should be available at
district level to take care of situations like disaster management.

E.     Making Developmental Schemes better targeted

       There is a need to reduce duplication of schemes. Element of discretion in
implementation of projects should be minimized. Significance of district Plan should
be revived and sufficient funds should be made available for this purpose. Regular
feedback on the impact of schemes should be arranged through open fora, surveys,
NGOs and score cards.
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F.      Transparency

       Access to the files and documents should be made easier and timely.
Information relevant for pubic should be made available proactively.

G.     Making Collectors Accountable

       There is a need to sensitize Collectors to track key social indicators. A system
of competition in achieving quality in key schemes can be introduced.
Commendation certificates for good performers and extra grants for the districts can
be given as awards. Tenures of Collectors should be made fairly stable and non-
productive and time wasting activities should be reduced.

H.     Accountability of other district level officers

      Monthly video conference between Collectors and departmental Heads should
be held to ensure proper implementation of schemes and better coordination.
Responsibility of district level officers needs to be spelt out clearly.

I.     Monitoring of Delivery of Services

       Collectors should focus on ten core indicators of performance. Feedback from
public about major schemes should be taken through kiosks and open discussions.
Departments should also release press notes/ white paper regarding work done by
them to invite public reaction.

J.     Recruitment, transfer and posting

        Recruitment for contractual employment should be done by independent
autonomous bodies. Recruitment rules should be revised by increasing minimum
educational qualification and inclusion of computer knowledge. Independent Civil
Service Boards should be instituted for transparent transfers. Minimum/maximum
tenure period for various categories of posts should be prescribed.   Innovative
practices at district level should be rewarded

K.     Punishment, reward system

        Simplification of procedures for major penalty should be considered. There
should be a provision for summary time-bound enquiries in case of minor penalty.
Employee of the Year Award for each category of employees should be instituted.
Identification of best Collector/best district every year may be started.   Personal
Information system and pay module should be introduced at all levels with a database
of employees and career profile which is regularly updated.

L      Training

        A clear-cut training policy for mandatory training for all levels of government
employees should be put in place to achieve this a comprehensive training needs
analysis may be done. Training institutes at Central and State level should be
strengthened.
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         INTEGRATED IMPLEMENTATION OF RURAL
      DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES AT DISTRICT LEVEL

A.      Need for rationalization

     (1) Too many programmes with large allocations being channelled through
         district Administration without adequate capacity building/training of
         personnel.    All available options not considered before starting
         implementation.

     (2) Coordinating/monitoring role of Collector/District Administration has
         increased in importance with launching of schemes in various sectors.
         Collector should receive support of a group of skilled professionals who
         should be taken on contract from the market. These could include engineers,
         management experts, change management experts etc. to help design, monitor,
         track, review and provide high quality advice to the District Collector.

B.      Defining the role of District Collectors

     (1) Collector is a jack of all trades and is held responsible for whatever happens in
         the district many of which he is only aware perfunctorily. Greater clarity is
         required about what a Collector is responsible for and what he is not. He
         should be enabled to perform the coordinating role to the best of his ability.
         The role of Collector is required to be redefined and repositioned in view of
         the increasing emphasis on PRIs and ULBs.

     (2) Very often governance suffers on account of the inability or unwillingness of
         available institutions to perform their functions. Collector cannot be expected
         to replace them. The solution is to reactivate these institutions and
         functionaries to perform their expected role.

C.      Monitoring and Accountability

     (1) Effective monitoring of a variety of departments requires that the Collector is
         enabled to comment and evaluate the performance of the functionaries of
         those departments with regard to the schemes involved.

     (2) Posting of Collectors should be for a minimum period of three years and the
         deliverables clearly identified at the beginning. These should include: District
         office modernisation, land records computerization, electronic service
         delivery through kiosks, effective grievance redressal, benchmarks in health
         and education sectors etc. Performance of Collectors should be compared
         with targets each year.

     (3) Delivery of services by each Department should be evaluated by an external
         agency in which beneficiaries have representation. If the quality of service
         delivery is unsatisfactory, the department should redesign the schemes.
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D.      Capacity Building

     (1) The training and capacity building of district level officers should be enhanced
         to effectively support the development initiatives. Yearly refresher courses
         should be mandatory for all functionaries with carefully designed curricula
         and training of personnel.

     (2) The staff of DRDA should be professionalised. Experts should be accessed
         from outside government and better salaries offered for the required skills.

E.      Institutional Support

     (1) Collectors should be encouraged to innovate and initiate appropriate solutions
         to local problems. The existing programmes should have enough flexibility for
         local variations subject to achievement of objectives. An Innovations Fund
         should be created at the National/State levels to support such initiatives.

     (2) Each Collector starts several worthwhile initiatives which are either dumped
         or forgotten when he is transferred. Each initiative should be documented and
         its continuity ensured if it addresses problems of the people

     (3) A discretionary fund should be available at the District Headquarter to take
         care of viability gap funding, contribution to village communities to build
         assets, assist destitutes, etc. This should be administered according to clear
         guidelines and accounted for.

     (4) Service delivery in areas such as sanitation, water supply, employment
         creation etc. should be passed on to NGOs and private partners under clear
         guidelines. Each Collector should not be expected to devise his own
         mechanisms for public-private partnerships. State level frameworks and
         guidelines should be laid down in this regard.
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 DEVELOPMENT OF INFRASTRUCTURE, URBAN RENEWAL
              AND HABITAT ISSUES

A.      Policy Initiatives

                Urban Sector which contributes 60% of GDP deserves a better deal
        than 1.8% of budget. Lack of a policy of urbanization has led to towns being
        over grown villages and villages being decayed towns. Our towns have to be
        enabled to contribute to economic growth by transforming them into better
        places to live and work. This will also stem the tide of immigrants to the cities
        which are bursting at the seams. In the urban sector, policy, regulation and
        service provision need to be separated.

B.      Planning for Urban Renewal

     (1) Town and country planning should be brought to the centre of development.
         The planning process in metropolitan areas also needs to be reestablished.
         Multiplicity of authorities need to be avoided or else the coordination takes up
         all the time of local bodies.

     (2) Credit rating of urban local bodies need to be encouraged and they should be
         enabled to access funds from the market through bonds and other innovative
         instruments.. A cadre of professionals should be built up to man urban
         institutions and government interference in their working should be
         minimized.

     (3) City and town planners and administration are often against those who are
         homeless and poor. After building the cities the builders and laborers are
         expected to disappear. NGOs working in this area should be constructively
         engaged to act as the interface with the poor to help in designing appropriate
         programmes, safeguarding the interests of the poor and building sustainable
         cities.

C.      Provision of Services

     (1) Services should be provided by agencies which are competitively selected and
         paid on the basis of performance.
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(2) Public private partnership is constrained by lack of capabilities to structure
    viable projects and select private partners transparently and competitively
    without being pulled up by CAG/CBI. This should not be left to the
    individual initiative of Collectors, lest the initiatives collapse as soon as they
    move out. The process should be institutionalized at the state government
    level.

(3) Citizen has a right to expect all services at one or a few points with the
    minimum of channels. This is now possible with application of IT. All cities
    above a certain threshold should be mandatorily required to provide such
    joined up services by a specified date.




D. Devolution of funds

(1) The functions and responsibilities of urban local bodies are not supported by
    adequate devolution of funds. Release of such funds should be linked to
    performance in service delivery. A second look is required at the tax sharing
    between States and local bodies to match functions with resources.

(2) The list of local taxes which can be adopted by municipal authorities, need to
    be assigned. By leaving this to the State Governments to decide, we have
    considerably weakened the urban local bodies and constrained their ability to
    perform the assigned functions. The selection and appointment of the State
    Finance Commission is another area where more objective criteria are required
    to ensure greater balance in the distribution of powers and responsibilities at
    sub-State Government levels.
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             NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT AND
                 ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS

A.      Policy Initiatives – need for appropriate strategies

     (1) The impact of shifting cultivation on the forests and ecology of the NE States
         need to be addressed through appropriate strategies. Current policies of
         persuading the jhoom cultivator to          settle down does not address the
         concerns of the farmer who is faced with limited options. Unless the
         productivity of agriculture is raised through more income earning crops and
         horticultural products with marketing arrangements, the present inefficient
         cultivation pattern may be the appropriate choice for the subsistence farmers.

     (2) Guidelines for implementation of programmes often do not give enough
         flexibility to the district administration to make modifications to suit local
         conditions subject to achievement of objectives.

B.      Policy initiatives – need for promotion of trade

     (1) Policies for development of the NE have been predicated on the assumption
         that it will be a landlocked region. Funds, ideas and personnel are sought to
         be inducted from outside to generate growth. This has led to an inefficient and
         unsustainable growth pattern under which natural resources are not developed
         and utilized systematically and sustainably. The NE should be opened up to
         the impulses of trade and commerce with the South East Asian region so that
         the NE States can serve as channels of trade and investment. Greater
         economic contacts will result in better communications, rise in incomes and
         less opportunities for insurgency. Employment will also get a boost. The
         bottleneck in Chicken’s Neck area constrains movement of resources and
         output to and from the North East and the only way this constraint can be
         overcome is by opening up the area to economic impulses and concentrating
         on high value products. This, however, will require a change in the mindset of
         treating NE as a resource to be protected from all outside influences.

     (2) Inflow of labour and skills from across the border is in response to the
         economic requirements of the region. What is required is a system of evolving
         work permits for specified categories for specified periods, without any
         attendant benefits of citizenship etc.

C.      Issue of Rights

     (1) Record of rights in many NE States are in a poor condition. Without
         ownership farmer has no incentive to greater investments and efforts on land.
         A simplified and easily understandable land record system needs to be
         introduced with assistance from Government of India.

     (2) Village community had traditional rights in forests and its produce which have
         now been diluted with powers being increasingly exercised by the Forest
         Department. The Joint Forest Management Committee needs to be activated
         with clear delineation of rights of the villagers along with responsibilities.
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        Farmer’s rights to own trees which he himself has planted also needs to be
        clearly established.

     (3) Transfer of public assets to village communities for management has worked
         well in sectors such as education and health. Similar involvement of
         communities in natural resources management is required as they have a
         deeper interest in sustaining these resources and environment in which they
         have to live.

D.      Water Resource Management

     (1) Rivers in the NE are sources of water as well as devastation. Heavy silting is
         leading to more floods with great damage. The issue of silting has to be
         addressed through imaginative plantation schemes of appropriate varieties
         with community involvement.

     (2) Large multipurpose projects in hill areas have often subjected the farmers’
         land to submergence without any sustainable improvement in his livelihood
         other than compensation. The fragile ecology of the area needs to be kept in
         mind while planning large projects which are sometimes seen only as a means
         to drain the area of its resources. No skill building takes place in such projects
         and the local communities remain outside the circle of beneficiaries.

     (3) The NE has 30% of water resources of the country and 40% of the hydro
         power resources. The fragmentation of NE has led to divided watersheds,
         habitat etc. resulting in sub-optimal and unsustainable development patterns.
         There is need to have zonal/regional and interstate plans for development of its
         natural resources.

E.      Other initiatives

     (1) Solar energy can transform the lives of communities in inaccessible areas.
         The current procedures for grant of subsidy are opaque, cumbersome and
         based on distrust of the community. This can easily be implemented through
         the DRDA which can monitor and guide the beneficiaries.

     (2) The potential of women’s groups in promoting income earning activities and
         bettering living conditions needs to be tapped. Since women occupy an
         important position in society and can influence the deployment of family
         resources and children’s education and health they need to be brought to the
         centre of all programmes of rural uplift and social transformation.

     (3) A large volume of illegal trade is going on with Burma, Bangladesh etc.
         Formal trade will bring those activities within the legal fold and generate
         employment and income. Since in 2006 bamboo in NE is expected to flower,
         resulting in rat menace and destruction of crops, strategies to commercially
         exploit this crop should be immediately initiated.

     (4) For development of industry to take place in NE, the concessions given should
         be greater than those for other backward States.
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       RIGHT TO INFORMATION AND TRANSPARENCY
                    IN GOVERNMENT

(A)   Availability of Information

      (1) Making information available proactively

                 Departments and executive agencies should publish relevant
         information pertaining to its activities either through printing it in booklet
         forms or through their website. This information should be made available
         to all at convenient locations whether there is any request for its supply or
         not. The minimum information required at the village level should be
         identified and mandatorily provided to the Gram Sabha each year at
         specified times.

      (2) Making provisions for warehousing and publishing of information

              Government must make provisions for warehousing and publishing of
         all information relating to work contracts, sanctions, tenders, etc.

      (3) Supply of information at the operative level

                    As far as possible, information should be supplied by the
         executive agencies/departments to whom it directly pertains.
         Collation/collection of information will lead to delays and discrepancies.

      (4) IT can enable quick storage and retrieval of information to the citizen.
          Such essential information should be available through citizen kiosks at
          the touch of a button. NGOs and private sector should be encouraged to
          process and make available such information even commercially.

      (5) Where States have enacted their own RTI Acts, there may not be any need
          to replace it by the Central Act. Responsibilities under the Act are best
          performed at the State and lower levels. District Grievance Committees
          under the District Collector should be empowered to call for files and
          redress grievances at the District level itself.

B.    Systemic changes

      (1) Institutional framework

             Model legislation for Information Act could be drafted by Central
         Government which can provide guidance to States which have not yet
         formulated their Act. There is a need to create appropriate institutional
         framework to handle the responsibilities under the Right to Information
         Act with commensurate statutory powers to State, District level
         Commissions.
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     (2) Need for initiating systemic changes

                   Mere supply of information may not result in redressal of
        grievances. It is important that appropriate systemic changes are brought
        in to make the service delivery efficient. Minimum standards of good
        governance in delivery of services should be laid down and followed.

     (3) Simplification and notification

                 Simplification and notification of procedures and decision making
        criteria may help in reducing the request for information. Job charts with
        details of persons dealing with specific subjects should be provided on the
        public domain.

C.   Operational Issues

     (1) Creating awareness and training for officers

                A need was felt for creating awareness among the officials, citizens
        and non-officials about the Act and responsibilities relating to it.
        Sensitization for the public will be helpful in reducing the burden on the
        system. Training module on RTI may be made compulsory in all
        administrative programmes.

     (2) Strengthening of infrastructure

               There is a need to strengthen infrastructure relating to staff,
        equipments, funds etc. at all levels for implementation of the Act.
        Outsourcing of certain activities can also be considered for providing bulk
        information for example through IT kiosks, programmes like Lok Mitr,
        Gyan Doot etc. Central funding for this purpose may be considered.

     (3) Implementation

               Act should be implemented in a positive and enabling environment.
        Exceptions and delays which occur due to collection and collation of
        information from various sources should be explained to public.

     (4) Financial penalties

                Financial penalties would be sufficient deterrent to deal with
        occasional errant behavior on part of officers. This could be in addition to
        disciplinary action and a note in the Annual Confidential Reports. These
        financial penalties should be levied by the Appellate Authority alone and
        should not be delegated to any other level.

     (5) Criminal liability

              In view of overlap in duties and responsibilities in Government
        departments both horizontally and vertically, it is important that criminal
                                                                          18
action is not resorted to against officials for failure to supply information
for which they are not personally responsible.
                                                                                        19
      PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP IN GOVERNANCE
                  AT DISTRICT LEVEL

(A)   Public Private Partnership initiatives


      (1) Each State Government should enunciate a policy framework for PPP
          clearly laying down, interalia, the areas of participation, bidding/selection
          procedures, nature of viability gap funding support to be provided by
          public agencies etc. These need not be left to the District Administration
          to be worked out anew in each case.

      (2) Model bidding documents and model contracts may be drawn up by
          specialized agencies having expertise in the domain of PPP. Adequate
          technical support should be made available to District Administration to
          take up PPP projects as they have neither the time nor the capabilities.

      (3) A number of PPP initiatives in District Administration are already in
          operation (e.g. SETU Project in Maharashtra). It is necessary to document
          and disseminate these initiatives so as to evolve models of best practices.

      (4) A list of selected areas of public services delivery at the District level,
          which are potentially amenable to PPP, may be prepared by a group of
          experts.

      (5) A set of middle level officials of District Administration may be identified
          and trained in PPP so as to build a core group in each district to take these
          initiatives forward.

      (6) A National Fund for Innovations in Governance may be created with a
          corpus to support PPP initiatives in District level administration. The task
          of screening of eligibility of proposals for assistance from this Fund may
          be entrusted to reputed agencies.

      (7) The services provided by various departments should be evaluated by
          beneficiaries periodically. The Score Card mechanism has been utilized
          with good effect in some States to estimate the quality of services
          rendered. This needs to be replicated.

      (8) The skills available in civil society, especially that of retired civil servants,
          could be utilized for evaluating government services.

      (9) Support should be given to establish citizen centres to provide all
          information relating to government programmes as well as critical
          evaluation of government’s policies from the point of view of the citizen.
          Standardised software is now available to quickly set up consumer kiosks
          providing services online. These should be established in each district
          within a defined timeframe.
                                                                                  20



B.   Issues relating to PRIs

     (1)    Capacity Building

                    Implementation of the 73rd Amendment requires transfer of
            funds, functions and functionaries to PRIs and urban local bodies.
            Functions and funds have been decentralized to some extent to various
            Panchayati Raj Institutions whereas functionaries have not been
            transferred. It has led to a situation where funds are being utilized by
            untrained people leading to issues like irregular expenditure, non-
            accountability etc. There is an immediate need to invest in capacity
            building of Panchayati Raj functionaries.

     (2)    Role of PRIs in Planning

                   Most of the funds given to PRIs are tied to various projects and
            programmes. As such PRIs do not play any role in planning activity
            and their role has been limited to an executive agency.       Planning
            skills at the district and lower levels need to be considerably
            augmented.

     (3)     Inter-relationships with different Panchayati Raj Instituions

                   Independent elections of representatives to various Panchayati
            Raj Institutions like Gram panchayat and Zilla Parishad mean that
            there is no inter-dependence of these Institutions.      This creates
            problems of proper coordination.

     (4)     Accountability and monitoring

                    No satisfactory mechanism has been evolved to ensure proper
            monitoring of various projects undertaken by PRIs. Lack of a system
            of accountability has also resulted in delay in transfer of functions and
            funds to PRIs. The accounting mechanism for such programmes need
            to be simplified and large scale training imparted to functionaries. The
            services of retired civil servants can be utilized for this purpose.

								
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