Presentation on theme: "RTI, Transparency and Good Governance Presentation by Shri A.N. Tiwari, Central Information Commissioner."— Presentation transcript:
RTI, Transparency and Good Governance Presentation by Shri A.N. Tiwari, Central Information Commissioner
RTI, Transparency and Good Governance Elements of Good Governance Lately, Good Governance has become the central concern of most governments and multi-lateral organizations. The World Bank, the ADB, the OECD Secretariat, the UN Millennium Development Goals, the World Press Freedom Declaration have all listed out elements of Good Governance, important among which are the following:- Accountability: Public officials must feel morally responsible for being answerable for the actions of the public entity. There should be a collective sense of discharging functions with efficiency and responsibility. Participation: There should be no hiatus between the public authority and the citizenry and especially the public authority and the client groups this authority is expected to serve. Predictability: The normative behaviour of the public authority should be such that the people have the confidence that given a set of circumstances its response shall be more or less uniform. Predictability engenders trust. Transparency: It refers to both a state of affairs as well as a state of mind. The working of the public authority should be such that all rules, regulations, decisions should be in the public domain. A sense should be engendered in the employees of the public authority that transparency was not something to be feared but to be made to be a defining element of the functioning of the public authority as well as its employees.
RTI, Transparency and Good Governance Elements of Good Governance (contd.) Efficiency and Effectiveness: It is the duty of the public authority and government to make quality the hallmark of its function. The service to the citizens or to client groups must be delivered economically, efficiently and effectively consistent with the avowed purpose and objectives of the public authority. Responsiveness: Public authorities are expected to exhibit a higher sense of sensitivity to public demand, changing tastes, interests and expectations and so on. Forward vision: The responsive public authority is always prepared to move forward with its roots firmly in the reality of the situation. Rule of law: Government must enforce transparent laws and regulations and codes. Certain other elements are Greater participation by citizens in democratic processes. Fight against corruption. Respect for separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary. Access to information. Poverty reduction. Protection of human rights The rent seeking tendencies of the political and bureaucratic classes need to be curbed through extensive use of RTI.
RTI, Transparency and Good Governance Transparency and Good Governance No matter how good governance is defined, transparency remains its key rather a defining element. Participatory democracy is, at least theoretically, also a transparent system of governance. But as experience has shown, democracy alone is no guarantee either of transparent functioning of the government or of good governance. Conscious effort has to go into making even participatory democratic governance transparent. In the context of developing societies/countries, good governance is related to efficient, economic and corruption-free delivery of services made possible due to economic and social development spearheaded by the government. Transparency is the key not only to the architecture of good governance but a country’s ability to usher in rapid economic and social progress. Professor Amartya Sen and other social choice theorists have now included transparency laws among the elements which promote social and economic progress by improving governance in a given country. Professor Amartya Sen Public authorities, like nation states, can hope to promote organizational objective by making transparency a feature of their functioning. By bringing down the veil of secrecy separating the public authority from the citizenary, transparency promotes trust.
RTI, Transparency and Good Governance Transparency and Good Governance (contd.) It is now empirically proven by the research of several Social Capital theorists that trust promotes good governance. Transparency, by promoting trust, promotes good governance. An essential feature of good governance is an orderly internal functioning of the government/public authority. The urge to put their house in order is enhanced by the awareness that transparency would not any more allow the public authority to keep all the mess under wraps. Internal record management an important key to transparent functioning of the public authority has been known to be promoted by the relentless public demand for information, which cannot be met not surely within prefixed time-schedules without an efficient, and contemporary record management system. Institutional Accountability is known to be directly proportional to transparency which a public authority embraces. More the transparency, higher the accountability. A public authority, through the simple contrivance of promoting transparency in its organization and function, is benefited by its spin-off a culture of accountable functioning by the generality of its employees. There is higher ownership of decisions by the employees which is conducive to higher productivity and organizational cohesion.
RTI, Transparency and Good Governance Secrecy Saves ?? Secrecy Saves ?? Secrecy has and this is rather intriguing become an underpinning in the working of most government organizations / public authorities, especially in developing countries, which had a history of colonial rule. In India, for example, the Official Secrets Act a legacy of the British rule has defined for more than half a century, not only how the organization would function, but also the approaches and the attitudes of civil servants / employees. No other Act has done more to create a hiatus between the people and the public institutions than the Official Secrets Act. It has weakened participatory democracy, made transparency look like an avoidable luxury, and provided the perfect smokescreen for unaccountable functioning of public servants. This Act promotes and nurtures irresponsibility. Ministers and other high officials of the State are required to take "oath of secrecy". The process of the selection of high functionaries in the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary is deliberately kept shrouded in secrecy. The committees of the Legislature keep their deliberations secret. Even the accountability enforcing watch-dogs of the State preferred secrecy to openness about the content as well as the methodology of their work.
RTI, Transparency and Good Governance Secrecy Saves ?? (contd.) The fear of public scrutiny is endemic. The mystique of governance has been deliberately and unconscionably promoted by all organs of the State, fuelling mistrust, cynicism and worse. The culture of secrecy is not only regressive, it is also self-defeating. The civil servant subscribes to the motto “secrecy saves”. All his actions are conditioned by heightened concern for secrecy even in matters which need not be held secret. This mindset needs to be changed. Secrecy begins in the minds of civil servants and it is in the minds the battle for transparency has to be fought.
RTI, Transparency and Good Governance The Preamble to the RTI Act, 2005 encompasses key elements of good governance. Experience has shown that use of RTI acts in two ways. First, through individual citizen’s actions under the Act, pressure is built on public authorities to disclose information, which otherwise would have been kept confidential. Second, it forces the leaders of the public authority to revisit their long-held dogmas about what to reveal and what not to reveal. RTI enables the citizenry to act vis-à-vis the public authorities as some sort of a benign Big Brother. RTI is the only legislation which allows people to question the authority directly without the intervention of their elected representative, the court or the media. It is an oasis of direct democracy in a system built on indirect form of representation. It is important that public authorities are enthused to look upon RTI not as an inconvenience, but an ally in transforming governance. RTI is the most powerful assault ever known on the monolith of official corruption. Unbridled use of official discretion is known to be the most endemic source of corruption in developing countries. RTI is a direct assault on use of discretion, which prospers under secrecy and recedes under transparency.
RTI, Transparency and Good Governance Key Issues in Operationalizing the RTI Act Antiquated administrative structures, poor information management systems. Absence of a culture of proactive disclosure; Government officials not equipped to meet the demands of transparency and accountability. Poor awareness and capacity of citizens to demand information. No mechanisms for facilitating interaction and dialogue between stake-holders.
RTI, Transparency and Good Governance Information Delivery – Key Issues Robust Information System Contents, Cataloguing and Indexing. Classification of Data / Meta-Data & Information e-Enabling. Data & Meta-Data Dictionary and Standards. Designating of Information Systems (Section 4(1)): Organization, Procedures & Decision-making Systems Human Resource Management Information System Financial Management Information System Schemes & Projects Management Information System Legal Caseload Management System Performance Management System : Input-Output-Outcome-Impact Linkages Citizens Governance Citizen’s Charters, Grievances, Library, Websites, Manuals, Brochures, Information Access Facilities, etc. Technology Management Information System (e-Governance, etc). Record Management Systems Storing, Retrieval & Access Clarity in Responsibility for Information & Record Management
RTI, Transparency and Good Governance Information Delivery – Key Issues (contd.) Quality of Requests Identification of Source, Objectivity, Completeness Channels for verification of information supplied by public authorities Competence, Motivation & Behaviour of Public Information Officers and Appellate Authorities Training of Officials Supply-side ManagementSupply-side Management Awareness among citizens Demand-side ManagementDemand-side Management Record Management Systems Storing, Retrieval & Access Clarity in Responsibility for Information & Record Management
RTI, Transparency and Good Governance Designing Information Systems : Examples Human Resource Management Information System Financial Management Information System Legal Case-load Management Information System Customer Relationship Management
RTI, Transparency and Good Governance Issues of Metadata – Data about Data Structuring of Database Systems necessary for better management, reach, accessibility and easy search: Precise Identification Classification Structuring Management Retrieval mechanisms Utilizations Combined, Linked & Coordinated Databases required for effective decision- making and easy supply of information. Framework (4 Fs Functions, Functionary, Finance and Field), Standards and Inter-operability aspects need to be addressed for effective Database Management System.
RTI, Transparency and Good Governance Information Service Delivery Some SuggestionsSome Suggestions Human Resource IssuesHuman Resource Issues TrainingTraining
RTI, Transparency and Good Governance Capacity Requirements for RTI Systemic Capacity Strengthening legal and policy frame-work, structures and institutions. Organizational Capacity Strengthening capacity of public authorities to manage, maintain and disclose information. Individual Capacity Developing skills, building awareness and changing mindsets. Enabling Environment Re-engineering processes, performance management, e-Governance.
RTI, Transparency and Good Governance Other Aspects of implementing RTI Act The Capacity Building ChallengeThe Capacity Building Challenge Empowerment of Citizens Mechanisms for Information Audit.Empowerment of Citizens Addressing Governance Issues: Public Procurement and its problems Public Procurement and its problems Using Technology e-Procurement Using Technology e-Procurement Scope of e-Procurement Services Scope of e-Procurement Services Andhra Pradesh’s e-Procurement System & Cost Savings Andhra Pradesh’s e-Procurement System & Cost Savings e-Procurement Model : PPP e-Procurement Model : PPP
RTI, Transparency and Good Governance What can the CIC and SCICs do? While continuing with the system of disposal of appeals initiated by citizens, CIC/SCICs should attempt to address issues of systemic change in public authorities. The RTI Act exhorts (Section 4(2)) that voluntary disclosure of information by public authorities should become so common “that the public have minimum resort to the use of this Act to obtain information.” RTI Act serves best when the citizen feels the least need to use it. Many an RTI-application will be rendered redundant when public authorities suo-moto embrace transparency in major aspects of their working. Information Commissions must use the provisions of Section 19(8)(a) to force the public authorities to initiate steps to promote transparency.Section 19(8)(a) Section 19(8)(a) should be extensively used: to compel public authorities to give effect to `Section 4 of the RTI Act (suo-moto disclosures to force systemic changes to promote public good. Commissions can identify select public authorities especially those dealing with public welfare such as health, labour, rural development, transport, etc. to bring about transparency-based systemic change over finite time-frames. RTI should not be looked upon as an autonomous legislation, but should be treated as a prime-mover for proliferation of RTI-like laws / legislations. For example, a provision regarding transparency requirement may be included in the obligation of public authorities in their governing legislations.
RTI, Transparency and Good Governance What can the CIC and SCICs do? (contd.) It would be necessary to shun an excessively formal approach to disposal of RTI-related matters. To bring about systemic change as well as attitudinal change, it is important – rather imperative – that Commissioners establish a dialogue with key public authorities about transparency-based systemic change within given time-frames. Certain countries in the West follow the system of Commissioners holding informal chats with public authorities in order to nudge those authorities to embrace transparency and to usher in change based upon maximum disclosure rather than maximum confidentiality. Public authorities should be encouraged to bring into the public domain a “question bank” related to various aspects of their functioning. Not only questions, such authorities should also provide answers to those questions and disseminate it widely, specially through websites. A large number of queries, which are now being made through the RTI Act, will be automatically answered. This can happen only through serious self-examination and introspection by the public authorities of their work and their organizational culture. Routinization of processes of the public authority should be encouraged. This would obviate the need for hyper reaction to sensitive questions which may be asked by an information-seeker. This should be coupled with also by a healthy record management system – electronic as well as conventional. All Information Commissions and public authorities can pool their resources to create an Institute which shall catalyze transparency-based systems improvement in public authorities. It can be done through such actions as laying down transparency standards, advising public authorities for transparency-based systemic changes, ranking public authorities on the scale of transparency, disseminate awareness about good practices among all public authorities, train public authority employees to meet the demands of transparency-based change and so on.
RTI, Transparency and Good Governance Conclusion Conclusion The right to information laws, alongside expanding the citizens’ rights, should be systematically employed to transform governance. These laws could be a powerful magnet for mobilizing the people and enthusing them to use these laws to enhance and expand their choices for their own betterment. RTI laws directly contribute to improvement in governance by breaking down the barriers between the government and the people by enhancing trust. RTI is the most powerful assault on developing countries’ endemic corruption. RTI should be an instrument to bring an end to the culture of governmental secrecy and the battle for transparency is to be fought and won in the minds of the civil servants. THE END