Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms (Administrative Reforms)

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
India is now in transition. Anti-corruption and good governance movement that started in North India is spreading across the country. After six decades of Independence citizens no longer are ready to accept red-tapism, delays and poor services. They are vociferous in their demands for better public services, against corruption and undue delays in public services. They are demanding accountability and transparency in action, and not mere rhetoric. After over a decade of liberalisation and rapid economic growth in India, the biggest challenge facing policymakers at both central and state levels is to improve public service delivery. For example, if a common man wants build a house, he is required to approach different departments for obtaining permits. He is made to run from pillar to post to obtain the necessary certificates. He is harassed for illegal gratification, delayed services and sometimes even denied services. Citizens face a number of problems while receiving services such as: • Inordinate delays; • Since there are no pre-defined timelines for each delivery, citizens are made to make repeat requests and visits; • Often citizens are unable to track the status of their applications; • Even when citizens complain, complaint redressal systems are ineffective; • Complicated procedures and document submissions; • Inefficient monitoring mechanisms make higher authorities difficult to monitor every service at the last mile; • Single-window services, where multiple services are rendered at one point, have been introduced in only some departments/services; • Attitudinal issues of government officials; • Wide-spread corrupt practices at different levels. The only recourse citizens had to resolve their issues was to approach the higher authorities, and sometimes even the Chief Minister, to solve their problems. Citizens would travel all the way and approach the Chief Minister even for basic routine problems, especially during Interaction Meetings that were held every alternate Mondays. This reflected poor governance and inefficient institutional mechanisms to render services at the local level. In order to address this problem of quality and timely delivery of public services adoption of innovative strategies and a massive reform across the entire administration was needed. This state of affairs led to the initiation of “Sakala” by the Government of Karnataka.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The State Government was keen on bringing about a massive revamp to improve public service delivery. The former Chief Minister, in October 2011, nominated the Law Minister, Government of Karnataka, as the nodal minister on behalf of the Government to recommend solutions to this problem. He and his team recommended that the best way forward was to pass a legislation that would provide and guarantee Citizens with basic services within a stipulated time. Dr Shalini Rajneesh, the Secretary, Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms, Government of Karnataka was chosen to spearheaded this reform process. It was decide to adopt a “mission” mode for Sakala. Under her leadership a series of deliberations with citizens, civil society and employee organizations were undertaken in order to make it transparent, citizen friendly and effective. After many discussions at different levels an Act was drafted. A good beginning was made when the legislation was unanimously approved within just 2 months. The Mission put in enormous effort to formulate new rules, standardise Schedules of service delivery, issued Government orders and coordinated with multiple departments to deliver government services in a time bound manner. It also adopted a participatory and collaborative approach involving the citizens, different government departments and employees at every level. In fact, the name, logo and the slogan for this initiative was given by a citizen at a competition organised for this purpose. The winning entry Sakala, in local language Kannada means, “in-time” or “good time”. The Logo has a clock, which reminds of time-consciousness and the hammer, signifying delivery of justice and also penalty for those who err. The slogan says, “No more delays, we deliver on time.” This reflects the aspiration of the Government to render good governance to 60 million population of the State. Karnataka has the highest number of services being rendered in the country. Karnataka Sakala Services Act 2011, comprises of 447 different types of citizen services offered by 42 different departments delivered to the citizens in a time bound manner. The following strategies/processes were adopted to solve the above mentioned problems: • Under this Act, a timeframe has been set for each service delivery. • Root cause of delays and corruption has been addressed by minimising citizen-government employee interaction and by adoption of new technologies. Since every application can be monitored and tracked, the government employees are bound to deliver services within the stipulate time. • Every official is assigned the responsibility as well as given required power, authority and support system to carry on his role responsibly and effectively. • One of the unique aspects of SAKALA is that the employee will have to pay penalty to the citizen if there is a delay. This is exceptional anywhere in India. • Kiosks have been setup specially for collecting citizen applications. An unprecedented number of applications ( 3,99,79,229 ) have been received of which (39,23,62,68) have been disposed on time. • The call centres and help desks assist the citizens from providing information, filling up of forms to finally get the service. • The monitoring system through Sakala has improved government efficiency at different levels. • In a short span of 18 months, 40 million consumers (Citizens) application have been disposed with more than 98% success rate through this game-changing initiative. • Administrative reforms have been taken up through re-engineering efforts, capacity building, new recruitment as well as attitudinal re-orientation training programmes. • Transformation of work culture and the brand image of the government employees has been attempted through positive re-enforcements, encouragement, appreciation and awards rather than only reprimands. Sarvottam Seva Cash awards have been instituted. • Open governance policy has been adopted by publicising office workflows and check list of documents with the prescribed service procedure/ fees payable etc for all the services under “Sakala”.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
1. Scaling Approach of Sakala One of the unique features of Sakala is the scale at which it is being operationalised. Presently, it is not just a pilot project, or a project in just a few districts/taluks, not just a few services or a project implemented in one department. Sakala is a big over-arching mission dealing with multiple departments, over 42 departments, which have their own unique set of problems/challenges. Converging heterogeneous departments into a single platform for integrating the functions like entering the application, tracking the service request, processing, delivery monitoring delays, defaults, rejections, Complaint redressal etc has been successful. The rapid horizontal and vertical scaling of Sakala from 151 services to 447 in one and a half year, is a testimony of its success, unprecedented in any State till date. Sakala has adopted a vertical approach, that is it is beneficial to different levels from bottom to top of the system. 2. Information for Action Information and Data Analytics are used extensively to monitor the project. Unlike many E-Governance projects in which the available information is not utilised to inform action, it is highly remarkable that regular data analysis informs monitoring and evaluation. 3. GSC Number and Use of Drilling Down Feature Each service request is specific. Issue of computerised unique Guarantee of Services to Citizen (GSC) number helps to establish citizens’ “Right" for timely service delivery. There can be no mass or common solutions across all requests. This requires individual data and attention. Data is being drilled down to each and every GSC number, tracked and resolved.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
Implementation of “Sakala” is summarised as below: a) Pilot was launched in 4 talukas (administrative sub divisions) on 1 March, 2012 b) State wide roll out on 2nd of April, 2012 with 151 services of 11 departments. c) The Second phase began on 2nd November, 2012 wherein 114 additional services have been added taking the total to 265. d) The Third phase began on 16 August 2013 wherein 110 services have been added taking the total to 375. Further in September, another 44 services have been added and addition of 28 services in December taking the final count today at 447. The highest ever in the Country! e) Additionally, 69 services have been enabled through ONLINE mode f) Legislation: The Karnataka Sakala Services Act, 2011, was formulated in a span of one month and was unanimously approved by both the houses of the legislature. This denotes strong political will and support for the mission. g) Grievance redressal mechanism: A call centre has been set up on a Public Private Partnership mode, which acts as an interface between Citizens & the Mission for providing information, lodging complaints and ensuring compliance in a prompt manner. Consumer organisations have been involved to set up help desks for eliminating the middle men. h) Participatory Approach: Participation at different levels of the bureaucracy is key to the success of any project. The very approach of Sakala has been consultative in nature. Departments themselves have enrolled to be part of it and have set their time-frame for the selected services. It is not something that is forced upon the departments. i) Streamlining Workflow: ‘Workflow charts’ were built to map the time taken by each government servant for providing the service and to ensure that the administrative system can gear up to deliver much before the stipulated time. Extensive discussions and deliberations were held with government functionaries and Employees’ Associations. Each of the 447 services have now got a standardised workflow, stipulated timelines fixed, required documents identified and published, fixing accountability on respective officers in the process flow etc. j) Ownership: The departments and employees themselves suggested the time-limits of each and every functionary. A ‘bottom-up approach’ was adopted wherein necessary support was provided to the employees. Employees were trained to use IT for reducing workload. ‘Work-studies’ were conducted to identify work overload & to sanction additional staff where required, besides simplifying procedures and delegating powers, commensurate with responsibility. k) Systematic reforms: Workshops at State, District and sub District levels were held to break up each and every process of service delivery and fix individual as well as collective responsibilities. The problems indicated by the staff were promptly addressed by the Government such as issue of amended rules/circulars/procedures, providing of additional staff (460), hardware like computers, UPS and printers. (500). l) Training: A detailed training plan was drawn with the help of Administrative Training Institute, Mysore to train 70000 government officials about the roles and responsibilities devolved by the Act. This training has been ongoing. m) Information Technology: National Informatics Centre has designed a portal for entering all the applications on a real time basis and monitoring the service delivery for all the departments/services in an integrated manner. n) Publicity: The Department of Information and Publicity has been involved in creating awareness and is regularly publicising various provisions of the Act. o) Citizen Participation: Interaction with consumer forums, resident welfare associations, women self-help groups and other NGO’s were carried out to spread the awareness and obtain their feedback.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
There are a number of stakeholders: Citizens are the primary stakeholders. Those wanting to obtain timely services from Government form a major group of stakeholders. Employees working in various government departments who deliver services to citizens under “Sakala” form the second bulk of stakeholders. Government of Karnataka initiating “Sakala” is a major stakeholder. Successive governments have continued this initiative since it is citizen centric. Civil society organizations, Resident Welfare Associations, Consumer Forums and NGOs are another set of stakeholders who have provided extensive feedback and are involved in awareness campaigns.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The Government of Karnataka initially allocated INR 50 Million for the year 2011. The amount was enhanced to INR 150 million in 2012. A total of INR 15 crores have been spent so far, which includes Salary to Mission staff, Technical Upgradation, Charges to the Call centre that handles grievances, Helpdesks that man the counter to aid citizens, publicity and awareness generation etc. IT resources were mobilized by National Informatics Centre (NIC). NIC is the primary technology provider to the Mission and various agencies who are implementing “Sakala”. It provides software for Analytical MIS report generation and maintains the “Sakala” portal. Employees of Government form the core. “Sakala” utilises the service of 30 district IT consultants and 500 data entry operators. At the Mission level, a state IT consultant and a management consultant are hired to assist in the daily operations of the mission. An Additional Mission Director and an Administrative officer work for the Mission on deputation basis. Training is conducted as per the protocol for employees at various levels by Administrative Training Institute, Mysore and District Training Institutes facilitating individual departments in a decentralized manner at district levels. District IT consultants impart trainings as and when necessary for the smooth running of operations of “Sakala”.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
Major outputs can be summarized as follows. 1. Speed at which services are delivered: Sakala’s umbrella covers Guarantee of services by 42 different institutions under various Government department covering 447 citizen services. Although there were time frames prescribed as per citizen charter for each service by the respective department, yet these deadlines were rarely adhered to before Sakala. Besides, there was no mechanism to document the receipt of applications or time taken for delivery of each service, which has now been made online ( On an average all services were delivered ahead of time for instance, the Caste Certificate from the Revenue Department was delivered in an average time of 9 days against the stipulated 21 days. 98 % Services delivered within Stipulated Time. 2. Win-win situation: It is a win-win situation for both Employees and Citizens. Citizens are happy because of the reduction of average service delivery time by at least 50% in most cases. Employees are satisfied because of simplification of many work processes and have a sense of achievement when their work is recognised. Many employees are so motivated to even work on holidays to deliver services within stipulated time. 3. Transparency and Accountability: The website, Call centre and Help desks act as a bridge between the citizen and the Government to create a transparent and accountable administration. 4. Traceability: 40 million citizen applications across different departments and from different services can be tracked online. This was impossible even to imagine earlier. 5. Reduction of grievances: Apart from sending SMS or lodging complaints through the website, a single call to 080-4455 4455 by the citizen giving the GSC number is sufficient to set the appeal process rolling. These centres collect complaints, which are then followed up with the Nodal Officer of each department, and then subsequently closed by confirming with the Citizen who complained. The attempt has been to eliminate the menace of middlemen and bribery.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
There are two aspects of Monitoring systems under Sakala: (i) On-line monitoring (ii) Monthly Monitoring & Analytics. i) Online Monitoring: Section 6 of the Act provides for On-line monitoring by officials and citizens alike with the help of a Public Portal. The Sakala report is designed in such a way that every application is tracked by the due date vs the Stipulated time, apart from monitoring disposals done within the stipulated time, Delays, overdues, rejections and Appeals / Complaints. Besides automated SMSs are sent to each official once in the morning about today’s due cases and once in the evening about total disposals for the day. This is a continuous source of self monitoring and self satisfaction! (ii) Monthly Monitoring: Monthly Report cards are prepared by the Mission. This includes District Ranking based on performance evaluation on account of Delayed disposals (30% wieghatage) and per 100000 population covered (70% weightage). The list of poor performing offices based on Pendency, Rejections and complaints received and applications processed, helps the district/department heads to focus on most poor performers. Monthly ranking based on Performance Benchmarks has led to competition among the districts. (iii) Analytics and Grievance Management System help in evaluating the performance in an ongoing manner. Sakala Software helps to monitor and analyse a variety of trends.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
1. Deliberate Rejections: The designated officer sometimes rejects the service application given by the citizen citing reasons, which are not logical in nature. This is a way to manipulate the system, for reducing the number of pendencies against the designated officer. This obstacle is overcome by creating awareness among the public, or when the same citizen lodges the complaint through call centre 2. Citizens hesitant to seek compensation: While there have been close to 5 lakh applications whose delivery has happened beyond the stipulated time, only 303 citizens have come forward to claim the compensation. Citizens are satisfied when their services are delivered and hesitant to claim compensation. Awareness among citizens has helped overcome this obstacle.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
• There has been a drastic reduction in the time taken to receive public services post Sakala unlike earlier. Although there were time frames prescribed as per citizen charter for each service by the respective department, yet these deadlines were rarely adhered to before Sakala. • There has been a reduction in average service delivery time across board. 96% of the services were delivered ahead of time. • Reduced number of visits to follow up on the processing of the application by the citizen • Simplification of procedures such as: i. Self-declarations in place of Affidavit for all certificate related services; ii. Exemption of Domicile Certificates by Housing Board for allotment of plots & houses; iii. Caste certificate, now valid for life (earlier 1 year); iv. Land conversion process reduced from 120 days to 45 days; v. Computerization and indexing of Records - helping speedier disposal of services & preventing tampering. vi. Integrating all departments’ data bases to avoid duplications. eg. Death certificates linked to pensions. vii. Informed Decision Making: Earlier, there was no tool to measure what is happening to applications that have been submitted in government offices, in a real time basis. Sakala ICT and Software solution provides for entering all the applications received from citizens on a real time basis and monitoring the service delivery for all the departments/services in an integrated manner. Analytics software has been developed to give insights into critical managerial aspects to help in crucial decision making process such as Benchmarking performance, Ranking/rating based on Speed, Rejections, Delays, Complaints & Reach besides mapping exceptional defaults to employees’ Service records through computerised Human Resource Management System.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The initiative will be sustainable because of the following reasons: • Standard operating procedures had been evolved at the stage of formulating the Act itself –which is defined by the employees themselves, thereby resistance is minimal or NIL. • Clear timelines are defined at each officer level that helps identify the cause of delay. • Reduction in the workload, simplification of procedures, delegation of powers commensurate with responsibilities will contribute to the sustainability of this mission. The ‘Designated Officer’ (DO) is the sole responsible person for delivery of services. • Regular feedback obtained from beneficiaries and citizens are acted upon. • The entire process is automated to reduce workload and increase efficiency and ensure qualitative and quantitative monitoring. • The government staff are conscious of the deadlines and is reminded through SMS/e-mail alerts on daily basis leading to 98% timely delivery. • Creating awareness among citizens about the services of Sakala plays a very important role in the sustainability of “Sakala” in the future years. • Chief Ministers have changed, Parties have changed, however, these changes have not affected implementation of Sakala. “Sakala” was initiated by the last Government and because of its citizen centric approach the present Government also has continued supporting the initiative. Political support is thus playing a major role in its sustainability. • Information Technology will continue to form the backbone of “Sakala” Maximization of E-delivery of Services will ensure the sustainability of the mission. Usage of IT ensures its scalability too.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
Lessons learnt can be summarized as: 1. Leadership: Political leadership has played a positive role in this case. Strong political leadership, without which, the project would have remained a non starter. 2. Collaborative Effort: Involvement of senior bureaucrats such as Chief-Secretary, who personally and actively monitors and pursues all matters relating to pendency, complaints, reforms etc ensured no let- ups. 3. Departmental Principal Secretaries, pursue the delays and pendency in their respective departments which ensures service delivery on time 4. Employees, who wholeheartedly accepted the project and made it a success, are the real heroes of the project. Officers have been motivated to perform well through incentives and recognition. 5. Periodic Monitoring such as Ranking based on Delays & Reach, follow up of rejections with justifications, penal provisions for continuous delays proved effective in monitoring & control.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms (Administrative Reforms)
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Shalini Rajneesh
Title:   Dr  
Telephone/ Fax:   080-22353985, 080-22032825
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   Department of Personnel & Administrative Reforms 6th Floor, 1st Gate, M.S. Building
Postal Code:   560001
City:   Bangalore
State/Province:   Karnataka

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