The ‘zero pendency’ of Jalandhar district in providing citizen services was at centre stage in Bhubneshwar during 2-day Regional Conference on ‘Replication of Good Governance Practices’.Deputy Commissioner Ghanshyam Thori gave a detailed PPT on ‘zero pendency’ besides sharing his views that how the administration made it possible to achieve this task thus enabling citizens to get requisite services from public institutions. The conference, which was presided over by Union Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions Dr Jitendra Singh, was apprised with the ‘zero pendency’ mechanism of Jalandhar district.During his address at regional conference, Deputy Commissioner Ghanshyam Thori outlined that how they encouraged the Punjab Transparency and Accountability Act, 2018 (PTAA 2018) resulting in providing citizen services without any hinder within stipulated time frame. He stated that setting a new example the Jalandhar administration has been ensuring that the citizens will receive government services whenever they need without any hindrance or third-party intervention. Thori also pointed out that they had also utilised ‘Digital Era Governance’ to facilitate citizens with efficacious delivery of public services at the last-mile. These efforts have also ensured fairness, accountability, and transparency in public service delivery.
Speaking about the implementation of eSewa platform operationalised in 2018, Ghanshyam Thori said that this system also helped in monitoring and streamlining public service delivery to every citizen within set timelines. In June 2019, when a high percentage of applications received and tracked through the eSewa portal, the Jalandhar was one of the only two districts in the State of Punjab that had more than 50% of all its citizen application pending with district officials beyond the stipulated timeline of PTAA 2018. The district administration cleared the pendency by meticulous utilisation of DEG tools, which further resulted in ease of providing services to citizens.Being responsive to the policy implementation challenges, Thori said that a District Project Implementation Committee (DPIC) was formulated with the Deputy Commissioner at the helm. Thus, the Deputy Commissioner in the district became responsible for the service delivery of the Sewa Kendras – the one-stop service centres for citizen service delivery working on the eSewa platform.
The institutional re-orientation allowed scope for two real outcomes. First, making the Deputy Commissioners responsible for public service delivery in a district fixed accountability, leading to improved implementation outcomes. The State Government was no longer expected to coordinate with multiple line-departments and its officials directly. The Deputy Commissioner became the single point of contact for the State Government to ensure implementation and facilitate inter-departmental coordination at the districts, he added.Secondly, it allowed Deputy Commissioners to undertake new strategic approaches and marginal process innovations to improve public service delivery in the district and reduce public grievances. The Deputy Commissioner also mentioned that these innovative measures or models could later be scaled up across the State as best practices, ultimately enabling time-bound delivery of citizen services across the State.Since Jalandhar was the districts with the second-highest level of pending services to be delivered to its citizens, it was crucial to ensure that public service delivery improved in the district so that the overall status of public service delivery in the State could also improve. The district consulted global best practices in process and performance management, and a "Zero Pendency" approach was implemented in the district.
"Zero Pendency" Framework – Guaranteed Time-bound delivery of Citizen Services
The ethos of the "Zero Pendency" framework was rooted in the idea of performance management at the grass-root level. To ensure that every service is delivered at the district level, it was necessary to map and monitor all the dealing hands which were responsible for 56.39% of all applications for citizen services received at Jalandhar’s Sewa Kendras were pending beyond the stipulated time-line of PTAA 2018 in June 2019.
NODAL OFFICERS FOR ZERO PENDENCY FRAMEWORK: Under Jalandhar's "Zero Pendency" framework, nodal officers were identified by the Deputy Commissioner directly at the Tehsil or Sub-Tehsil level to manage the performance of all dealing hands processing a citizen application before its approval at the district level. The performance of every office processing such applications are monitored daily through a management information system (MIS) reports every day. If an application is found pending, it gets immediately mapped to the concerned official, and the nodal officers are alerted. The district administration not only identifies and alerts for pendency but also shares and records the root cause of any such pendency with district heads of departments. All concerned officials with pending services are given time till Saturday from the beginning of the week to clear their respective pendency failing which, they must attend the Saturday review meetings presided over by the Deputy Commissioner. These meetings are designed as comprehensive brainstorming sessions where the Deputy Commissioner facilitates horizontal and vertical coordination among district functionaries to ensure bottlenecks are addressed, and citizen services get delivered.
Thori also divulged that the special focus was also laid on user experience besides collecting citizen grievance and feedback through a dedicated grievance helpline number. The district administration's official Facebook page and e-mails, and even via the official grievance redressal portal of Punjab Government was useful for this purpose. It was also ensured that all grievances are addressed and resolved within 24 hours of them being recorded. Currently, Jalandhar is implementing an initiative to personally call citizens who have used the Sewa Kendra facilities within the last seven days for their valuable suggestions and feedback, said Thori.
The Administration is also organising outreach camps to deliver services in remote areas, implementing door delivery of services for senior citizens and PWDs. This initiative is further carrying awareness through community forums such as announcements in rural Gurdwaras, which all helped enable better public service delivery to citizens in the district.
JALANDHAR’s ZERO PENDENCY: Jalandhar district has reduced its pendency in citizen services from 56.39% in June 2019 to 0.0% in November 2021 and has sustained its first rank among all 22 districts of Punjab since July 2020. During the last one year period (Nov 2020 - Nov 2021), the district administration also received 326 grievances across different forums out of which 321 grievances have already been resolved to the satisfaction of the applicants. The improvement in the efficiency of public service delivery has also made the Sewa Kendras financially self-sustainable. Since January 2019, Jalandhar district had delivered 14,65,301 services to its citizens and received a net revenue of INR 18,61,95,433 as service fees from the 33 Sewa Kendras in the district, which was being incurred on the development of these kendras.
More than 250 delegates participating physically and others who joined virtually lauded the ‘zero pendency’ mechanism setup by the Jalandhar Administration.