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Liberating Public Service for better quality and service delivery

Quality of public service delivery to a great extent defines the quality of governance. In Pakistan and elsewhere as well, largely many of the public services has rested with the Govt however they have gone through some evolutionary stages to improve the typical government service delivery by including a front desk. In case of Pakistan, there is no such significant progress however in Punjab e-khidmat Centre (physical attendance of the applicant is required) is spreading out in 9 districts in so far. E-khidmat centre offers 17 different public services under one roof. This is one significant evolution in our public service sector we witness today.

I am of the opinion that now we should move to a more liberal form of governance where the public has most choices to take on for reaching the same outcome. Taking an example of a public service from e-khidmat, say a person wants driving license or route permit, now he has two option available with him whereas previously he had only one. He can file an application at e-khidmat Centre or at the concerned Govt department. I suggest increasing the number of options even more. I suggest that, in stages, public services be liberated from govt and left out for the private sector, yet in a regulated manner. The schematic below can give little idea of that.

Yasir Cheema, Public Service, Service Quality, Customer Service

The proposal introduces two new players in service delivery and re-structures the process flow. 1st player is Govt’s Accreditation and Assessment Body (AAB) and the 2nd is privately owned service providers.  The AAB shall be the single regulatory authority over privately owned service providers. AAB’s scope will include setting up the minimum standards of service delivery and data protection obtained by the service providers, registration, certification, measuring the quality level & annual renewal of service providers. AAB may limit the authorization of rendering any number of services from a particular service provider based on its performance.

Once a service provider is registered and licensed to provide services, it will work as Govt’s front desk and for the public one-stop service provider. It will collect, in any manner it deems appropriate, applications from the public for any service, supporting documents as required by concerned govt department, Govt fees streamline and check all the applications as per requirements of the concerned department. The service provider should send a summary to each concerned department on a particular service with its observations, comments & recommendation to facilitate the concerned department in the issuance of particular service as requested by the applicant. The concerned Govt department shall have authority to audit all or any of the application processed by a service provider in order to ensure the service provider is adhering to the procedures set out by the department.

A competitive environment of private owned service providers will strive to improve and innovate the service delivery in order to raise a number of their customers. This will further improve the pace of shift from typical service style to more innovative and digital service solution. Having hundreds of service providers against one (concerned department) will open up new ways on how service providers reach out to their customers. [An awkward encounter of a friend where a Pakistani Consulate asked him to get a counsellor service elsewhere if he can get. No one offer consulate service other than the consulates, so we are left with no choice but dance to the tune of the consulate. That’s a monopoly of being sole service provider]. Being a private entity, the service provider will be in way better position than govt to employ more learned and efficient employees equipped with modern innovations and more likely to impart better training if required so by regulation of AAB. The service providers can be paid out of the Govt fees as inherently govt fees include all the processing service charges which under this proposal is being rendered by the private service provider. Alternatively, Govt can lower down its fees and the private service providers may charge for each type of application independently. Bringing in the private service provider will give people more choices to go for a particular service instead of reaching out to only one govt department. Where it will increase the choice for public, it will also significantly reduce the bribes that public often pays to get their rightful service.

[Pls this is just an initial draft and it may be improved/amended at times. Suggestions are welcomed.]

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Yasir Cheema

Yasir Cheema is a Civil Engineer by training and currently working as Resident Engineer for Surbana Jurong Pte. Ltd. in Singapore. He writes at this portal about Governance, Public policy, Institutional development, Construction practices, and procedures.

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