The term Sevottam is formed by joining two Hindi words seva and uttam meaning service and excellence respectively. It is a Service Delivery Excellence Model which provides an assessment-improvement framework to bring about excellence in public service delivery. The need for a tool like Sevottam arose from the fact that Citizens’ charters by themselves could not achieve the desired results in improving quality of Public services. Besides, the absence of a credible grievances redressal mechanism within organizations was also becoming a major impediment in improving service delivery standards. Thus, it was felt that unless there is a mechanism to assess the outcomes of various measures, the reform initiatives would not yield the desired results. The Sevottam model works as an evaluation mechanism to assess the quality of internal processes and their impact on the quality of service delivery.
The Sevottam model has three modules.
- The first component of the model requires effective Charter implementation thereby opening up a channel for receiving citizens’ inputs into the way in which organizations determine service delivery requirements. Citizens’ Charters publicly declare the information on citizens’ entitlements thereby making citizens better informed and hence empowering them to demand better services.
- The second component of the model, ‘Public Grievance Redress’ requires a good grievance redressal system operating in a manner that leaves the citizen more satisfied with how the organization responds to complaints/grievances, irrespective of the final decision.
- The third component ‘Excellence in Service Delivery’, postulates that an organization can have an excellent performance in service delivery only if it is efficiently managing well the key ingredients for good service delivery and building its own capacity to continuously improve service delivery.
- Each module is assessed on the basis of these three criteria .Each criteria, in turn, has several specific elements/questions .Several Departments have initiated steps to use the Sevottam model in order to improve their quality of services.
The Sixth Central Pay Commission observed as follows:
The citizen centric governance commitment of Government of India has led to development of a model for public service delivery (Sevottam). The model has been developed through extensive consultations with multiple stake holders and it has led to development of Indian Standard IS: 15700: 2005. By doing that, India has become the first country to have a published standard for Public Service Delivery. That, for PRI purpose, the Sevottam model can be integrated into the model and thus employees of ministries/departments fulfilling certain level of public accountability be rewarded through PRI. Since collective effort of all employees is required for high quality service delivery, Sevottam score should be a group measure. The unit of analysis can be the larger organization and/or basic performance units determined by service delivery requirements. As PRI system progresses in maturity, minimum performance under Sevottam may be kept as a qualifier for PRI. Here, employees of entire organization (or part) achieving other results, but failing in Sevottam may not receive PRI. We would like to emphasize that by no means we imply non-achievement of other performance goals, while achieving Sevottam. In our opinion, by measuring and rewarding high quality public service delivery, it can be made a natural priority for teams.”
The Citizens’ Charter shall contain:
- Vision and mission statement of the organisation.
- List of key service(s) being offered by the organisation, and
- Measurable service standards for the service(s) provided and remedies available to the customer for non- compliance to the standards.
The Citizens Charter shall :
- Represent a systematic effort of the organisation to focus on its commitment towards its customers.
- Be simple and easily understandable and also printed in local languages, as required.
- Be non-discriminatory.
- Describe or refer to complaint handling process.
- Include the name, address, telephone number and other contact details of the public grievance officer.
- Be periodically reviewed for up-dates and continual improvement.
- Highlight expectations of the organisation from its customers where required.
- Provide information on the date of issue of the Citizens Charter and persons who were consulted during its preparation.
ARC views that it is a step in the right direction. However, it would require further strengthening and refinement. As of now, it is a voluntary initiative. Also, the focus is largely on process standards rather than service standards. The Commission is of the view that while good internal processes are necessary for better services, these by themselves may not be sufficient. Therefore, there is need to focus on better quality of service. This could be achieved within the existing Sevottam framework by shifting the emphasis from processes to quality of service.
A Citizens’ Charter cannot be an end in itself, it is rather a means to an end – a tool to ensure that the citizen is always at the heart of any service delivery mechanism. For e.g. IS 15700:2005 of the Bureau of Indian Standards is an Indian Standard for Quality Management Systems. Standard itself stipulates that a Quality Management System helps an organization to build systems which enable it to provide quality service consistently and is not a substitute for ‘service standards’. In fact, Citizens’ Charters Sevottam model seeks to assess an organization on (i) implementation of the Citizens’ Charter, (ii) implementation of grievances redressal system and (iii) service delivery capability. Sevottam model is in the take off stage.