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 3 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. 4 (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. 5 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 6 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 7 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. 8 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. 9 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. 10 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. 11 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. 12 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. 13 (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. 14 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. 15 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. 16 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. 17 (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.