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Measure to provide a

Clean Administration in Uttar Pradesh :

A strategic Framework


Introduction

1.                The Uttar Pradesh Government is committed to providing a clean and effective administration, with efficient delivery of public services, so as to serve the people better. The State has made commendable progress on several fronts, whether it be in agricultural production or in attracting industrial investment. However, the impact of such achievements gets dented whenever there is corruption or even public perception of corruption at any point in the administration.

2.                The State Government views corruption as malaise. Countering corruption is necessary as an orienting principle for reforming the administration and improving the delivery of public services. The adverse affect of corruption is most keenly felt by the economically weaker sections, who are not able fully to utilise the benefits of schemes / facilities provided by the Government. The Chief Minister has, therefore, identified the need to provide a clean administration as among the major priorities of the Government.

3.                It is recognised that any strategy to be effective would need to focus on systems, and not just on erring individuals. For this reason, the State Government is working on wide ranging measures for civil service and administrative reform, including reforms of procedures. This is with a view to bringing about economy, efficiency and effectiveness in government functioning and facilitating smoother interaction between the public and the government/ public officials.

Approach

4.                A two-pronged course of action is called for in this context:

(i)     It is necessary to understand the systemic factors behind corrupt practices and behaviours, and the shortcomings of the existing arrangements and institutions. In effect, it is necessary to identify the points where there is corruption or scope for corrupt practices.

(ii)   There is need to strengthen institutional capacities to identify and punish corrupt officials, while also undertaking preventive, punitive and awareness/educational measures to tackle corruption.

5.                In order to obtain some quick feedback regarding the general perception about corruption, surveys had earlier been got conducted. The sample of persons interviewed expressed concern about the law and order machinery, electricity, rationing, traffic police, telephone and postal departments, in that order; also about local bodies/panchayats, government hospitals, government schools/colleges, housing/development Authorities, (again in that order); and in respect of departments where public interaction is relatively limited, with the PWD, Irrigation and Sales Tax departments. Traders who were surveyed were most concerned about problems relating to power, trade tax/sales tax and the municipality. Significantly, there were differences in experience and perception in regard to corruption, both amongst the sampled stakeholders and amongst officials who responded, just as there were differences in responses from rural/ urban areas.

6.                The Government is of the view that people's aspirations would be best met not through isolated/ compartmentalised steps to tackle instances of corruption but by adopting a holistic approach covering preventive, curative and punitive measures. Quick redressal of grievances would need to be given primacy. This can most effectively be done through feedback from the people. As a follow-up to the findings of the surveys, the Government felt that it was essential to obtain feedback directly from civil society/ stakeholders. In a far reaching and innovative step, the Chief Minister has been holding a series of Panchayats in which a large cross-section of representatives of farmers, traders, teachers, labour and the like are being invited to freely discuss their grievances, including those pertaining to mal-administration and corruption. Senior members of the Cabinet and the concerned Ministers, the Chief Secretary and Principal Secretaries/Secretaries to Government are present in these meetings. The media is also present. This format, ensures public participation and feedback, quick response and an two-way free flow of information and ideas between representatives of the people/stakeholders and the Government. The Chief Minister has, similarly, held detailed meetings with Police officers, in respect of the Law and Order machinery, instructions are being issued to field officers also to ensure regular contact with the people, with a view to redressing grievances, including complaints about corruption.

7.                It is proposed to develop systems wherein regular feedback about the functioning of the departments is received and corrective measures are taken in time to ensure hassle-free service to the public. This would help the departments to take specific measures, with a view to providing improved services to the public.

8.                It is well recognised that transparency, public participation and accountability are important factors which can help in providing a responsive and clean administration and in curbing corruption. It is also generally recognised that there is greater scope for corruption when there are delays in decision making, slackness in supervision including financial supervision, complicated rules and regulations and abuse of discretion.

9.                The approach of the Government would, therefore, be to:

       Minimize possibilities of corruption (through greater transparency/ better access to information, public participation).

       Strengthen vigilance machinery.

       Make inquiries into corruption and disciplinary proceedings/legal action more effective/ time bound.

       Implement Civil Service and administrative reforms in general, including deregulation and simplification of rules, leading to improved delivery of public services.

10.           One of the key approaches would be to make the Principal Secretaries/Secretaries of various departments, Heads of Departments/Offices and CEOs/MDs of various Public sector enterprises responsible and accountable for curbing corruption within their departments/offices/organisations. For this purpose, it is proposed to ex-officio designate these senior officials the Chief Vigilance Officers in their respective offices.

Strategic Measures

11.           The State Government proposes to address the subject through the following measures:

(1)               Impress upon public servants as well as the general public the fact that the government is committed to providing a clean, efficient and responsive administration.

(2)               Work towards simplification of rules, streamlining procedures, making the administration more responsive and "user-friendly" and extracting greater accountability from its machinery. Recommendations of the Deregulation Committee, some of which have been received while some are awaited, would be examined for early action in a time bound manner.

(3)               Obtain feedback from the general public / Civil Society about the points where they perceive corruption and seek their suggestions on measures to curb such corruption. Holding Panchayats of various interest groups would also help in such participatory diagnosis. Department-specific measures would be formulated to diagnose the types of corruption and their extent. Thereafter department-specific implementation strategy would be evolved. To begin with, this would be done in respect of three departments.

(4)               Encourage increased transparency in Government functioning, particularly in offices having large public contact. Simplify and de-mystify procedures. Provide the public with greater access to information. Towards this end, a code of practices for access to information is proposed to be implemented in a phased manner.

(5)               Strengthen and modernise investigation agencies and organisations engaged in vigilance work and ensure better coordination among the agencies.

(6)               Strengthen Lok Ayukta organisation. Greater awareness to be created amongst the public regarding the functioning of the organisation.

(7)               Reduce delays in departmental and vigilance inquiries/investigations.

(8)               Encourage participation of public representatives in process of selection of beneficiaries, particularly at the grassroots level.

(9)               Encourage wider use of Information Technology (IT), particularly by departments having large public dealings.

(10)          Citizens' Charters by departments having substantial public interface and those engaged in the delivery of public services.

(11)          Use web-sites and other means of communication to make the public aware of the activities of different agencies engaged in combating corruption and of names and telephone numbers of officers to whom corruption related complaints can be made.

(12)          Facilitate receipt of complaints from the public.

(13)          Reform in the tender process to ensure competitive bidding after wide publicity.

(14)          Divisional Commissioners to keep a watch on officials suspected of having doubtful integrity.

(15)          An independent machinery to make spot checks of quality of construction works.

(16)          Streamline transfers of officials with a view to curbing unnecessary shifts, and lay down a transfer policy in this regard.

(17)          Amend the Annual Character Roll (ACR) proforma prescribing that information be furnished on whether the officer reported upon has taken interest in reducing corruption. The need for other suitable changes in the ACR proforma would be examined.

(18)          Insist on periodic property returns from officials. The need for modification in the proforma prescribed in this regard would be examined.

(19)          Principal Secretaries/Secretaries to Government, Heads of Departments/Offices and CMD/CEOs of State Public Sector Undertakings to ex-officio function as Chief Vigilance Officers in their offices/organisations. Separately, one senior officer in each office/organisation to be designated as Vigilance Officer. Role of CVOs and VOs to be spelt out.

(20)          Explore possibility of strengthening/simplification of law relating to attachment of public servants' assets found to be disproportionate to known sources of income.

(21)          Disclosure and identification of financial and procedural irregularities in the course of audit to be followed up with investigations into possible corruption. For this purpose, the State Internal Auditor shall be made responsible.

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