Citizens’ Charter: Governance Issues UPSC

Citizens’ charter forms part of the syllabus of both Ethics Paper as well as General Studies Paper II. It is an important component of Good Governance and any aspiring civil servant must be thoroughly aware about it. I am reproducing my notes below.

You may watch the video lecture where I explain the Citizen’s Charter and all its aspects.

What is Citizen’s charter?

Citizen’s Charter is a voluntary, written declaration of service delivery standards to be expected by the citizens from the public authority.

Characters of Citizen’s Charter

  1. Standards of Service Delivery
    • S- Specific; e.g. ‘Try Hard’ or ‘Soon’ is not specific
    • M- Measurable
    • A- Accurate
    • R- Relevant (to the service provider and the user)
    • T- Time-bound
  2. Openness About Information
    • Disclosure in legible, understandable language about service levels and standards to be expected
    • Clear info about whom to approach in case of grievances
    • should be accessible: available online, in office, handbooks, posters etc.
  3. Citizen Consultation
    • User’s view and priority should be considered
    • It is responsibility of the citizen to be involved and co-operate
  4. Courteous
    • Service orientation of officials
    • ‘May I Help You’ counters
  5. Grievance Redressal
    • Access to the grievance officer should be easy
    • Clear and easy procedures
    • Quick and consistent resolution
    • Resolve systemic problems

Objectives of Citizen’s Charter

  • Change in attitude of the public officer and in organisational culture
  • Public service delivery as rights based rather than paternalistic approach
  • Transparency and Accountability
  • Value for taxpayer: faith in governance
  • Responsive attitude

Obstacles to implementation of Citizen’s Charter

  • Unrealistic or unachievable promises
  • No force of law to Citizen’s Charter
  • Citizens not involved in formulation of the charter
  • Skepticism in both bureaucracy and citizens
  • Lack of awareness drive
  • Misunderstood by the stakeholders
  • Lack of internal or external monitoring or grievance redressal
  • Lack of training, lack of empathy and sense of duty


  • Make pragmatic and achievable promises
  • Reforming the business processes in the departments
  • Staffing and proper training
  • User involvement
  • independent audit and its use to do continuous reforms
  • Simplifying complaint registration and redressal
  • Publicity

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