CPGRAMS
Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Prior to the introduction of CPGRAMS, there existed a system of receiving, processing and monitoring of grievances. This was done by the Ministries/departments either the manual way or through a standalone server based system. The main issue here was that when a citizen sent her/his grievance, she/he had no idea about whether this has been received, is being looked into or whether this has been considered and closed. Further, there was no guarantee of either acknowledgement or redress. It all depended on the rigor with which Ministries concerned monitored grievances received by them. There were guidelines and instructions issued from time to time for monitoring grievances, but the issue did not receive the focus it merited. Usually it was one of the last item on the agenda. In the absence of a centralised system of receipt and monitoring, there was no accountability on the part of service providers. There was no one to question why there were grievances unattended to. Since there was no way the citizen could know what happened to what he had sent, it was nigh impossible to know the action on it at any given point in time, unless there is a reply which came his way, which was not frequent. On the other side, Government did not know what kind of grievances citizens had, about the nature and scope. In Ministries/Departments which have a large public interface, it is very useful to know the points where citizens had grievances. Absence of a centralised and comprehensive system meant there was no way of either knowing the number nor assessing the profile of grievances and fixing systemic issues which would mitigate the cause of the grievance in the first place. Since the system was done manually, it ended being a monotonous task for the government employees concerned with no tangible improvement in redress mechanism for the citizens. Citizens, in most cases, try to settle their issues locally and only as a resort write to government. Non availability of a system to receive their grievances meant there was no one to either listen to them or attend to their problems in a given timeframe. The most vulnerable sections of the society i.e. socially and economically backward, are those who are largely dependent on government services and absence of this system meant absence of an effective way to reach out to government and service providers for settlement of their genuine grievances.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
Absence of a comprehensive system meant that DARPG became the default destination of grievances which in turn were being sent to the Ministries. This resulted not only in waste of time but also more processes leading to delay in redress. It was then that the need for a centralised monitoring system was conceived in the DARPG. The idea was to create a platform for receipt of grievances. This platform was to be made accessible, easy and transparent so that both citizens and the service providers would benefit from the same. When the proposal was discussed internally, there was unanimity that a centralised system, to be monitored by the DARPG would be need of the day. The initiative solved the problem by (a) creating an easy interface for the citizens to lodge their grievances (B) allowed the citizens to track their grievances (c) facilitated monitoring by DARPG (d) Helped the Ministry/Department receive and further take action on grievances pertaining to them and to their subordinate offices, in a consolidated way (e) allows the Ministries/Departments and DARPG monitor grievances real-time and (f) helped collate and analyse information on the kind of grievances to help systemic reforms and (g) made administration more accountable to the citizens. One of the major offshoots of the new system was CPENGRAMS. The Centralized Pension Grievance Redressal and Monitoring System (CPENGRAMS) is an online redressal system for pension related matters. The portal is also expected to serve as a one stop information source for the pensioners of Government of India (especially civil pensioners) across the country. Its main objectives are: a) To provide a single window service to Central Government Pensioners. b) To facilitate an efficient and effective grievance redress mechanism related to pensioners. c) To keep the pensioners aware of their rights and responsibilities/obligations. d) To enable the Pensioner’s Association/ Welfare Organizations to access information/ lodge grievances on behalf of their members.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
CPGRAMS provides for a centralised platform for receipt of grievances from across the length and breadth of the country. India being a subcontinent, the nature and profile of grievances as well as the geographical location of the citizens who have grievances are diverse. It is quite possible that citizens from the remotest part of the country do not have access to the government to vent their genuine problems be it their entitlements or services due from government. CPGRAMS provided for a common platform for doing this. This kind of initiative also meant that there is greater accountability on the part of government and service providers towards their clients i.e. the citizens. It is no longer possible not to attend to grievances or sit on them. Monitoring real-time meant that authorities at every level were answerable. It was innovative since it provided for an end-to-end solution to handle public grievances. From the citizens’ point of view, it allows him to track the grievance till it is redressed/closed. From the government point of view, it put the spotlight on, to ensure that the grievance of each citizen is brought to its logical end. Pension cases of retiring Central Government employees are processed by around 9,200 head of offices spread across the country. Grievances related to pension matters are thus mainly to be handled on individual basis by respective heads of offices. Disbursement of pension takes place through 10,000 bank branches. Prior to start of CPENGRAMS, the pension related grievances were addressed by aggrieved pensioners to these head of offices and there was no mechanism for monitoring the redressal of grievances at national level. With the initiation of CPENGRAMS, pensioners could lodge their grievances online through CPENGRAMS software.These grievances are then monitored centrally by the Department of Pension & Pensioners’ Welfare and taken up with the respective organizations concerned with pension matter of aggrieved pensioner. The CPENGRAMS helps to provide all information for all the Ministries/Departments at a centralized point and thus monitor at the highest level in the Department of Pension & Pensioners’ Welfare.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
Once there was an agreement on the need to have a comprehensive, centralised system, the next step was to design a model. The team of National Informatics Centre which provides technical assistance to Government on all Information Technology related matters, started working with the team of DARPG. A proto type of the design to be hosted was developed and discussions were held with Departments for their views and suggestions as to the feasibility of the design. Once this was done, the final design emerged. The next step was to (a) train the government employees to operate the portal and (b) inform and publicise to the prime clients i.e. the citizens about the portal and the way to use the same. This was done in parallel. A set of guidelines/module was developed and a set of Master trainers were readied to begin with. Following this, training given to Public Grievance Officers in around 90 Ministries/Departments of the Government of India. Incidentally, this is still continuing and DARPG hosts training programs for all the users of the portal. These training sessions threw up many ideas and working details which were fixed as the system started to roll out. Access protocols for Ministries/Departments as well as to senior officers in these organisations developed and shared with all. The other critical step was information dissemination. Media campaign to bring about awareness on the CPGRAMS undertaken. Advertisements were issued in the print media. State Governments were requested to share details about CPGRAMS with the field functionaries. Yet another critical component was the staff of Ministries/Departments who not only are to receive grievances but also to redress and monitor them. In the initial phase, a massive outreach program was held with all the Ministries/Departments to explain the features of CPGRAMS, how to use it, how to track it and how to analyse data available on the portal. In certain pockets there was resistance to begin with and in some quarters there was scepticism. In order to address the same, the team from DARPG-NIC did physical demonstration of the functioning of the portal and did immense handholding of user departments. This was backed by regular meetings with Ministries/Departments as well constant communication at multiple levels, so that there was comfort in using the new system. Suggestions/feedback received were ploughed back into fine tuning the portal. Another problem encountered was the frequent transfers of the operational staff. This meant that those who were given training did not stay in those seats for long and the next incumbent was not trained in use of the new system. This was when it was decided to make the training broad based and universal. DARPG organised training programs for multiple levels of employees so that knowledge is institutionalised. Periodic refresher trainings were organized to enable the users have complete knowledge. It is also important to mention here that several State Governments desired to adopt CPGRAMS customised to their requirements. To this effect, support was given to develop regional language-enabled modules for those States which were customised for the particular State’s requirements.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The main stakeholders involved the implementations were as follows: Citizens: They are the primary clients and Government/Departments exist to serve them. Providing them with an interface to lodge their grievances and track their redress/closure is the backbone of good governance. Ministries/Departments of Government: Each government entity is mandated with provision of a set of services to the people, directly or indirectly. Some government departments have a larger public interface than the others. Nevertheless, each government entity is bound to delivery services in time, of a certain standard to the citizen. Having a comprehensive Grievance redress and monitoring system meant that the government entities were closer to their clientele for whom their services are meant. DARPG: This department has a unique mandate which is twofold. It deals with Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances. Both are interlinked. Reforms are the medium/long term solution to improvement in service quality and concomitant reduction in grievances. DARPG hence, would greatly benefit by having a system like CPGRAMS which allows capture the profile of grievances, analyse them and suggest systemic reform to address the root cause of grievances.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The new initiative necessitated physical and human resources. Physical resources included the hardware and software for the new system. This was sourced from the NIC and DARPG out of the internal budgetary allocation. To devise the system, NIC put together a core team of its own employees and those hired from the market (who were paid by the DARPG). After the system was in place, human resources were involved in imparting training to employees, actually run the system, disseminate information etc. This was managed by the DARPG’s own staff. The cost of all this was borne by the DARPG except in some cases where the user departments picked up the cost of training. Similarly, where State modules were developed, DARPG supported developing the modules as well as training.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
From the citizens point of view, the system allowed for an easy and accessible interface to lodge his/her grievance. It allowed the citizen to track the grievance till it is brought to a logical conclusion. It meant that the citizen could now question in the event any government functionary did not acknowledge or act on his grievance. This is a great tool for empowerment and placed the citizen on the centre stage. From the governments’ point of view, it ensured accountability. Gone were the days when some government functionaries could get away with the excuse of nonreceipt of post/physical paper. The fact that grievances were now received online meant closer and better tracking mechanism. On the other hand, the new system also became a tool for analysis and information for the government departments. The nature and profile of grievances received indicated the areas of service delivery which required attention and correction. For example, every government entity is now sensitised to the fact that entitlements due to retired government employees forms a major portion of the grievances received. This area has now received a lot of focus and steps are being taken to address the issues at the source level itself so that it does not necessitate the employee to resort to grievance at a later date. The fact the entire cycle is in the electronic mode has led to drastic reduction in the time taken in the entire process of receipt to redress/closure of grievance. The time taken for postal transmission, sending onward to the Ministries/departments concerned and then further on to the sub-offices, is all due on the e-mode now. Similarly once action on the grievance is complete, intimation to the citizen is done on the e-mode and through a text message, where applicable. The figures reflect the status above. From inception till date over 11.61 lakh grievances have been received and monitored through the CPGRAMS portal. Out of these, 11 lakh have been disposed. Regular monitoring is done and the turn around time of redress has decreased from 200 days to 60 days. Similarly through the CPENGRAMS, the Department has so far handled 71315 grievances out of which 68099 grievances have been disposed of leaving behind a balance of mere 3216 grievances.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Devising and introducing a new system was half the challenge. The other half was to put in place a system to monitor and evaluate the roll out, get feedback from users and fine-tune system factoring in the same. DARPG held regular meetings to monitor and assess the progress of development of the portal. Discussions were held with the NIC core team working on CPGRAMS . Once the portal was ready, necessary approvals were taken from the Secretary, DARPG and then rolled out. The next step was to have an awareness training of all nodal officers along with NIC team. In order to ensure the portal was actually used, log-in statistics was monitored so that those who did not use the system were spoken and gradually convinced to use the new system. Use of CPGRAMS became the most important discussion point in the internal meetings of the department as well as in the meetings held with other government entities.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
Government departments did have a mechanism for receiving and monitoring grievances, even if it was rudimentary. What CPGRAMS did was to bring all of them under a standardised design. This meant that all government entities, who were otherwise receiving and monitoring grievances in the conventional way and through server based system, had to reorient their staff to the new system. The mindset and the commitment were lacking initially. Employees were not sure how the new system would work and there was fear of technology in some quarters. Awareness campaign and hands-on training played a large part in mitigating these initial difficulties. It was also a conscious decision to make the training a demand driven one so that employees feel comfortable migrating and using the new system. Another problem encountered was the frequent transfers of the operational staff. This meant that those who were given training did not stay in those seats for long and the next incumbent was not trained in use of the new system. This was when it was decided to make the training broad based and universal. DARPG organised training programs for multiple levels of employees so that knowledge is institutionalised. Periodic refresher trainings were organized to enable the users have complete knowledge. Telephonic/email support is also provided to clarify the doubts at any point of time.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
CPGRAMS is a simple yet powerful tool of citizens empowerment. By ensuring that the entire grievance redress system, end-to-end is transparent, it has brought it more accountability and citizen centricity in the working of government departments. CPGRAMS provides for a centralised platform for receipt of grievances from across the length and breadth of the country. India being a subcontinent, the nature and profile of grievances as well as the geographical location of the citizens who have grievances are diverse. It is quite possible that citizens from the remotest part of the country do not have access to the government to vent their genuine problems be it their entitlements or services due from government. CPGRAMS provided for a common platform for doing this. This kind of initiative also meant that there is greater accountability on the part of government and service providers towards their clients i.e. the citizens. It is no longer possible not to attend to grievances or sit on them. Monitoring real-time meant that authorities at every level were answerable. It was innovative since it provided for an end-to-end solution to handle public grievances. From the citizens’ point of view, it allows him to track the grievance till it is redressed/closed. From the government point of view, it put the spotlight on, to ensure that the grievance of each citizen is brought to its logical end. From the citizens point of view, the system allowed for an easy and accessible interface to lodge his/her grievance. It allowed the citizen to track the grievance till it is brought to a logical conclusion. It meant that the citizen could now question in the event any government functionary did not acknowledge or act on his grievance. This is a great tool for empowerment and placed the citizen on the centre stage. From the governments’ point of view, it ensured accountability. Gone were the days when some government functionaries could get away with the excuse of nonreceipt of post/physical paper. The fact that grievances were now received online meant closer and better tracking mechanism. On the other hand, the new system also became a tool for analysis and information for the government departments. The nature and profile of grievances received indicated the areas of service delivery which required attention and correction. For example, every government entity is now sensitised to the fact that entitlements due to retired government employees forms a major portion of the grievances received. This area has now received a lot of focus and steps are being taken to address the issues at the source level itself so that it does not necessitate the employee to resort to grievance at a later date. The fact the entire cycle is in the electronic mode has led to drastic reduction in the time taken in the entire process of receipt to redress/closure of grievance. The time taken for postal transmission, sending onward to the Ministries/departments concerned and then further on to the sub-offices, is all due on the e-mode now. Similarly once action on the grievance is complete, intimation to the citizen is done on the e-mode and through a text message, where applicable.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
CPGRAMS is a simple yet powerful tool of citizen’s empowerment. By ensuring that the entire grievance redress system, end-to-end is transparent, it has brought it more accountability and citizen centricity in the working of government departments. The initiative is sustainable since it is simple to use and does not involve expenditure for maintaining the same, on the part of the stakeholders. Since the system is on a centralized server, the cost of maintenance like that of a decentralized environment does not arise. All the user departments need to have is connection to the internet. The system is designed in such a way that it can penetrate to any level without any additional expenditure. In order to handle operational difficulties if any, a Support desk is in place to provide assistance through mail/telephone. The system is deployed on a Central server at NIC National Data Centre, which increases the reliability, accessibility and sustainability. Given the simple architecture of the portal, citizens find it easy to access the same. Further, State governments have adapted CPGRAMS and the NIC has developed customised versions to suit their requirements.

 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)
First, it is important to have clarity on the idea. When there were multiple modes of grievance monitoring, to design one model to incorporate and cater to all users, meant clarity of concept. The need to have a conceptual framework as the starting point to design any initiative became apparent in this exercise. Second, the need to have a champion department came out clearly. Many of us have great ideas, but to bring them to fruition would need dedicated staff and a team to take the idea from a concept stage to a design/plan stage and then on to the implementation front. DARPG became the champion in this regard. By persistently discussing and deliberating with the users as well as the technology providers i.e. NIC, DARPG ensured that at no stage was the enthusiasm and initiative lost. This became the centre piece of the departments work during this period. Third, having a great design in itself would not help unless that design is tried and tested by those who use them. This is where discussions with user departments helped to a great extent. They were able to pin point the potential issues that could come up. All these suggestions were factored in while fine-tuning the system. Fourth, any initative is as good as the people who run it. At one level, the staff of PG Division of the DARPG had to be brought on board and made comfortable about the new system. Yes, there were initial difficulties. But what made the difference was the constant communication and dialogue with them. Fifth, the most important stakeholders in the whole system are the citizens for whom the entire initiative is meant. They were very interesting and informative lessons learnt from the feedback of the citizens who used the portal. - One set of suggestions pertained to the architecture of the portal. They pointed out that the portal did not allow uploading of large attachments. They also pointed out that organisations which were shown in the drop-down box did not include second-level organizations;. This meant that the grievance would go to the parent Ministry first and travel all the way down. This led to avoidable delays. These two suggestions were factored in and the portal fine-tuned accordingly. -The second set of suggestions/comments which were received included the quality and time taken to redress the grievances. Yes, the portal allowed easy lodging and tracking of grievance. But it did not impact the quality of redress or the time taken to reduce. The biggest lesson here was threat any portal or such initiative is only a tool for ensuring accountability and not an end in itself. This is when the need for intensive and periodic monitoring by DAPRG was felt and a fortnightly review was started. Finally, one of the most important lessons learnt, it is important to ensure that the initiative actually results in change of outcomes for those whom it is meant and does not end up as just a process.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Alok Rawat
Title:   Secretary  
Telephone/ Fax:   +91 11 23742546
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   secy-arpg@nic.in  
Address:   Vth Floor, Sardar Patel Bhavan, New Delhi
Postal Code:   110001
City:   New Delhi
State/Province:   NCT Delhi
Country:  

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