Responsiveness and Quality
Reforms acquire legitimacy to the extent that they are able to deal with this perceived failing. But what citizens expect is less easy to define. They want more efficient and effective service delivery, certainly, and this puts the administration and the citizens in a provider-consumer relationship. But they also demand freedom and equity, which presupposes that the government will protect “the public interest”. Service delivery thus gains a central role. Some common elements have been identified as essential to sustained, responsive service delivery.
Citizens should be informed about how the administration works, what constraints public servants face, who is responsible for what, and what remedies are available if things go wrong.
Public administrators are employed by the public and held accountable for their words and actions. Democratic values involve accountability and dependability. Essentially, this means being professional in all ways and doing what you say you’re going to do. Without accountability, public trust cannot be established. Additionally, public administrators need to ensure the public has access to information by being as transparent as possible. It is the goal of public administrators to serve the public, not keep secrets from them. All decisions must be diplomatic and with the public’s best interest in mind.
Citizens now resent being treated as passive recipients of whatever the administration dishes out. In many cases, as in tax administration, the government needs their cooperation to perform its task.
Citizens should have easy physical access to administration at convenient hours and be offered information in plain language.
Efforts to be more responsive to citizens have led several countries to set service standards, which were sometimes given particular prominence in high-profile documents such as public service or citizens’ charters, e.g., in Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, and UK.