Public Complaint System (PCS)
Ministry for Development Information Technologies and Communications of the Republic of Uzbekistan

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Uzbekistan has inherited an archaic public administration system characterized by serious inefficiencies, bottlenecks and delays. The system was designed with the aim to shift the workload and responsibility towards citizens. Interaction between government of Uzbekistan (GoU) and citizens was hindered by continuous systemic problems in the following areas: 1. Inefficiencies in public service delivery. Public services were designed and delivered with no regard of user needs, most of the time they were time consuming, overloaded with duplicating and redundant procedures, low quality of customer service and absence of clear and structured information and instructions. Most common public services such as property registration, application for social benefits, tax declaration, birth registration and other were among services that were difficult to obtain. 2. Lack of public participation in policy design and implementation. Poorly designed and administered communication strategies with no feedback mechanism in mind have resulted in decisions and policies elaborated without consideration of citizens’ needs and interests. 3. Corruption and red tape were common especially in areas that involved direct interaction with citizens and businesses. Slackness in administration, low morale of public servants, inherent inertia, absence of incentives, lack of proper authority and accountability – all these were delay-breeders which resulted in dissatisfaction of people with public servants and mistrust in government. 4. Lack of transparency and accountability in decision-making process. Often activities linked to social security benefits distribution, public procurement, loan allocation from the state banks were those with limited or no transparency and as a result prone to widespread corruption practices.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
As part of ongoing administrative reform and in order to bring people closer to decision-making process, the Government of Uzbekistan (GoU) in July 2013 launched an initiative that sets up a Public Complaint System (PCS). The initiative aimed at providing an effective tool for citizens and companies to send their grievances to public authorities.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
The initiative gave people an instrument to voice their concerns and grievances. Moreover, the GoU established that review of every complaint or suggestion received is by government authorities therefore, making sure that every voice is being heard. In many ways, it showed people that the system is not static as was previously believed and can be changed with the help and under the influence of the people. In order to make the system effective in solving people’s problems the government first of all defined clear rules and procedures for filling petitions in the form of complaint, suggestions and appeals. It drafted legal acts that defined rights and responsibilities of the citizens and the government. Next, offline and online channels for submitting feedback were introduced. Online channel was part of an online platform where people could file, track and receive responses regarding their complaint or suggestion. It was easy to use, had several language options and special features for people with visual impairments. Understanding that internet penetration in rural area is still lagging behind and digital divide remains an issue, GoU from the start paid a separate attention to offline channels to target people living in rural areas, those without access to internet, women, elderly and other vulnerable groups. Mail, hotlines and public offices are used to collect complaints. With data analyses on grievances becoming part of monitoring mechanism, the country leadership acquired an effective tool to better understand underlying problems in various sectors of economic, social and political life. As a result, that knowledge fed in national and regional policies and strategies, thus helping to establish evidence based policymaking practices in the country. Thereby, government adopted “prevention instead of treatment” approach to policy making. In addition, the initiative helped to break down silos of many line ministries in charge of delivering public services and providing social protection, but failing to do so due to lack of transparency and accountability. People were able to see many social problems addressed as a result.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The initiative is innovative for various reasons, particularly: It builds a bridge between President and the nation, and eliminates all barriers in government-society interaction using ICT as a new approach in governance where complex processes and hierarchies exist. Previously ICT has not been used in government sector in such extent as to help make political decisions, and conduct reforms based on analytic data obtained from PCS; Simple and multichannel access to the PCS allows applicants from various background, income and literacy level to file their appeals; Social media was widely used to communicate with public on this initiative, make announcements, describe progress, and report the results, collect peoples’ opinion. This increased trust in government commitment for a change and increased participation of citizens in other areas of public life; In addition, GoU and people are able to monitor the process of handling complaints by ministries and government agencies in real-time. The problem or issue cannot be accepted as solved unless the applicant agrees.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The initiative was initiated and coordinated by the President and implemented by the Ministry for Development of Information Technologies and Communications (Ministry of ICT). The PCS was introduced in July 2013 and received more than 204 thousand complaints from citizens and entrepreneurs in three and a half years. In September 2016, when the Prime Minister launched the second phase of PCS the system received about 486 thousand complaints and suggestions in less than 5 months. During the initial stage of PCS operation, the number of complaints and suggestions received online amounted at around 140 thousand or 68% of total number and through the call centers - about 64 thousand or 32% of total. In the second stage when the office of the Prime Minister took over administration of the initiative and additional channels were introduced for conveniences of various target groups, the numbers changed: about 235 thousand (48%) of appeals were send through website, 214 thousand (44%) through call center and about 37 thousand (8%) through mail. It should be noticed that establishing accesses through Internet, phone call and mail, and bilingual approach allowed the initiative affect more people, increased participation of people in government’s decision making, economic and social life, including the poorest and the most vulnerable people. In the initial stage of the Project only 29% of all applicants were women and nowadays this number reached 55% of total applicants, this shows how the initiative affected women’s participation in decision-making process, and in protecting their interests. Moreover, 43% of all appeals were received from unemployed people, 17% from retired people, about 4% complaints received from students, which also indicates how the PCS contributes to solving problems and creating opportunities for unemployed and the most vulnerable groups.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The first phase of the initiative was aimed at establishing legal framework and set up a pilot implementation mechanism. The implementation mechanism introduced in July 2013 consisted of online submission form incorporated into the public e-services portal, and a call center. Almost at the same time, the Law “On appeal from individuals and legal entities” was adopted that gives individuals and legal entities the right to petition authorities in the form of statements, proposals, and complaints. The purpose of the law is to regulate the petitioning process, describe rights and responsibilities, procedures and timelines. The law sets up a solid background for establishing understanding among the government officials of their obligations and among citizens of their right to communicate with the government. During the first phase, all government agencies were autonomously responsible for organizing, handling and monitoring work on grievance resolution. This phase was crucial in establishing among government officials a culture of two-way dialogue with citizens. At the same time, this phase was instrumental in shaping citizens’ engagement in public affairs. The result was not uniform among different government agencies, while some were effectively resolving complains, other were lagging behind. Despite its success in laying ground for a complaint management system, assessment of initial phase demonstrated low level of commitment among government agencies for a change and as a result mistrust among public. The second phase of the project was guided by a strong political will from the top management of the county. Coordination of work was supervised and monitored by the Office of Prime Minister and later transferred to the Office of the President. In the second phase of Public Complaint System implementation the GoU set up the following targets: to raise the take-up by the citizens to a new level, improve accountability of the government officials and increase overall effectiveness of the system. In order to achieve that the following actions were formulated: 1. Establish a whole-of government approach in operating the system; 2. Introduce monitoring mechanisms to closely track compliance by government agencies; 3. Build an information system for increased efficiency; 4. Introduce new channels of obtaining feedback from citizens. As an effort to widen the scope of target audience and reach most vulnerable groups of population several new channels were introduced. In 24th of September, 2016 GoU established a single portal called a “Virtual reception of Prime-minister” (pm.gov.uz), which was later transferred to President and renamed to “Virtual reception of President”. In addition, the project allows filing complaint using a hot line or visiting the Councils of the regional party organizations UzLiDeP (Uzbekistan Liberal Democratic Party). In order to streamline work on filing, reviewing, monitoring complaints system the Ministry of ICT was in charge of developing an information system for complaints management. The System receives complaints and suggestions from citizens and entrepreneurs via phone, online or paper, records them, and transfers them to respective ministry. The responsible ministries or government agencies solves the problem and sends report through the system to the Working Group within the deadline set in the law. Through the Public Complaint System, the Working Group can monitor and evaluate in real-time the whole process, which allows increasing transparency of activities of ministries and government agencies that provide public services.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The President’s Office initiated the Project, besides several ministries and government organizations, such as the Ministry of ICT, General Prosecutor’s Office, Cabinet of Ministers were involved in designing, developing and implementing the initiative. The management of project is entrusted to the Ministry of ICT and the action Minister Mr. Sh.H. Shermatov acts as a coordinator. There was established a special department within the President’s Office which is in charge of monitoring activities within PCS. In addition, the government regularly organizes expert group meetings in order to discuss and exchange ideas with individuals, business community, CSOs, activists, international organizations on how to improve the complaint system further.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The first and main achievement of the initiative is increasing accountability of ministries and government organizations. The Project provides transparency of government institutes, allows increased e-participation and inclusiveness of the people thus contributing to the 16th goal of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions”. It was also successful in providing equal opportunities for both men and women. The statistical data of the Project illustrates that more than 55% (about 260 thousand) of applicants in the framework of the PCS are women, and in 9 out of 14 regions of Uzbekistan women are more active than men. In addition, the Project addresses issues of universal access to healthcare facilities and promoting quality public healthcare, it contributes to the well-being of people, including the poorest and most vulnerable groups, which corresponds to the next SDG “Good Health and Well-being - Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”. There are more than 25 thousand (5.7% of all applications) applications related to the area of healthcare. Many appeals that found their resolution were addressing the issue of quality municipal services such as utilities, housing and land issues, which echoes the SDG “Sustainable Cities and Communities - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. There are about 110,6 thousand (25,3%) complaints and suggestions received from citizens and entrepreneurs related to local services, which shows concern and need to change current local governance system. The PCS covers all spheres of society, including education. There were about 14.5 thousand (3.3%) applications that addressed issues in public education sector of the country. This serves as a serious trigger for the government to improve this spheres which fits into the UN’s SDG of “Quality Education – Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote opportunities for all”. Moreover, the following factors ensured success and effectiveness of the complaint system: a) it was easily accessible and simple to use for citizens, simple to invoke, with the stages clearly set out; b) responsibilities of government organizations were clearly allocated; c) the response timeframe was short, offering prompt action and speedy resolution according to pre-determined time limit; d) it was objective, including provision for review and investigation.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
Some government organizations, instead of solving grievances filed by citizens and entrepreneurs, abused their authority and falsely reported solving problems. A milti-layer system of monitoring and control was set consisting of the special working group under the President’s Office and General Prosecutor’s Office, which was in charge of taking actions in cases of fraud and abuse of power. Despite positive resolution of grievances, there was no confidence and trust in the PCS. Because people did not know if the system worked, therefore the project managers improved public relations strategy, which became a crucial solution of this obstacle. Social networks and mass media were used to provide anonymized examples of complaint cases solved in the framework of PCS. Media products were prepared describing the Project, “how to” guides and evidence of its effectiveness.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The initiative helped to achieve the following crucial results. 1. Provide a tool for citizens to solve their problems. People have been able to a) improve quality of public service delivery (social services such as public education, healthcare, social security). B) improve economic opportunities incl. access to consumer loans, protection of labor rights c) urban and rural infrastructure (better roads, access to water and sanitation facilities, uninterrupted electricity supply). Business has been able to improve bottlenecks related to currency exchange, registering property, enforcing contracts, paying taxes, etc. which for many years remained unsolved. 2. Reduce corruption at all levels of government. Despite the initial skepticism as time passed the population witnessed through the word of mouth and well managed communication campaign that the Grievances System delivers promised solutions. As a result, the number of appeals gradually increased since the launch of the initiative in 2013. Both individuals and businesses have been able to use the system as a tool to report on corruption practices they faced in their everyday life. 3. Give a voice to most vulnerable. From the beginning the government has adopted a multichannel approach to interacting with public. Both traditional (paper based) and electronic ways of filling complaints were introduced. As the initiative was implemented recurrent evaluations have shown growing need in alternative channels to target people who live in remote areas and most vulnerable (people with disabilities, women, elderly). 4. Promote transparency and accountability. The grievance mechanism was designed to be a system that is flexible and self-improving. One key element introduced was monitoring of project implementation. Assessment and reporting on the progress ensured transparency of introduced policy and commitment for greater accountability. As a result trust in government has been strengthened significantly. 5. Formulate national policies and strategies based on feedback received from the citizens. Grievance mechanism allowed putting in a spotlight many systemic problems that have not found sufficient attention from the government for many years. The scale and gravity of these problems showcased that political will at the top level is key in finding solutions. By assuming coordination responsibilities office of prime minister helped to address problems on a fundamentally new level and feed in public grievances into comprehensive reform agenda. Based on analysis of data from the PCS government administration formulated informed development strategy for 2017-2021.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The initiative was instrumental in improving public service by raising transparency and accountability of public servants. The monitoring and analysis of complaints received allows determining how well government agencies are handling complaints and prepare reports for public to see, by doing this the government ensured transparency and kept ministries and government organizations as well as local public authorities accountable.

 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)
The Public Complaint System does not discriminate women, but rather stimulates their participation in political, social and economic life of the country. Uzbek culture historically showed that men are more active and leading in political, social or economic life of society than women. However, the initiative contributed to increased activity of women in social and political life of the country. According to statistical data in the initial stage of the Project implementation only 29% of all applicants were women and nowadays this number reached 55% of total applicants. To reach the most vulnerable, government adopted a multi-channel delivery strategy, the access of minority groups was also ensured through setting up a bi-lingual application system. In 2017, every ministries and government organizations is setting up online grievance filing pages, moreover, it is planned that in every rural and remote area there will be established an office – People’s Reception, there citizens who have no access to computers or phones can come to file their grievances with the help of the responsible person.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Ministry for Development Information Technologies and Communications of the Republic of Uzbekistan
Institution Type:   Ministry  
Contact Person:   Farkhad Ibragimov
Title:   Business process reengineering  
Telephone/ Fax:   00998712384388;/00998712398782
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   f.ibragimov@mitc.uz  
Address:   Amir Temur avenue, 4
Postal Code:   100047
City:   Tashkent
State/Province:  
Country:  

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