Citizen engagement in Procurement management and over sight
Challenge Addressed The need of the day is programme effectiveness with citizen/user involvement in service planning and delivery. The greatest challenge is to define the responsive role of citizen/user in PMGSY, from construction to all through its design life. More complex is the establishment of unified process/methodology of responsive involvement of citizen in PMGSY across the country. The emphasis of this citizen engagement is to bring in the aspect of ownership among local community. Once citizens perceive the importance of quality of these roads; citizens become volunteers monitoring these roads all through its design life. This involvement will bring the participation of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) and through PRIs greater community start owning these roads and ensure quality of roads constructed. Major challenge in defining a responsive citizen engagement process in PMGSY was the need to create awareness on their role in construction and maintenance of rural roads and capacity building of identified volunteers on technical aspects in a much simplest way. With this view, NRRDA piloted a citizen engagement process by engaging a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) to identifying and capacity building of volunteers, developing citizen friendly toolkit to test various basic parameters of road, IEC leaflets on awareness and role of citizen in monitoring and training modules. The pilots in two phases across 7 States all regions has reinforced the confidence in citizen engagement. Addressing the issue of reaching to ordinary citizens with the technology was a kind of challenge. The mobile application developed “Meri Sadak” is made so simple and hassle free for rural citizens to embrace the technology and provide feedback on condition of roads. Inclusion of ICT has made it effortless in establishing a healthy information cycle from citizen to authorities and vice versa. The willingness of political system is one significant concern which draws limitations in implementation of various programmes. In contrast, the Ministry of Rural Development and Government of India emboldened the idea of citizen engagement in the PMGSY. Finally, women participation is one serious issue to address. When the training of volunteers was conducted in respective villages, successfully saw the increase in women participation as this reduced the travel of women to other different places. It was also seen that women were keener in monitoring process voluntarily.
Impacts The NGO in collaboration with NRRDA and the States, with pilot in two-phases over 3 years has developed, tested and standardized (a) simple citizen friendly toolkit to capture and analyze data during construction and in maintenance (b) a methodology of selecting Citizen Volunteers (c) data sheets for reporting (d) comprehensive training module including audio-visual and hands-on components in the module considering socio-economic-educational background of volunteers (e) trained master trainers on this. To list few, the major direct/in-direct benefits due to citizen engagement in terms of monetary and non-monetary terms are as follows: • Though the Government nodal department in-charge of quality of construction and maintenance, impact on road condition and maintenance due to corrective measures in-time reduces the depreciation of assets • Constant monitoring and persuasion to maintain these roads, keeps the roads in serviceable condition in all seasons. • Transparency, Accountability and addition of Social Auditing in the programme • Empowerment of Citizens from the grass-root level • With requisite technical knowledge, citizens are now able to address technical issues. • Empowers women and ordinary citizens • Monitoring of rural roads of PMGSY and of similar projects in locality • Empowerment of citizen and creating awareness in Gram Sabhas and Panchayats. • Huge sustained increase in connectivity to markets, healthcare and education centres and local area headquarters • Reduced travel time and travel cost • Sustained public or para-transport services to citizens • Reduction expenditure on road maintenance • Improvement in sectoral development in locality • Improvement in socio-economic development of community • The vigil community ensures adept monitoring the rural roads in their locality The inclusion of citizen in the PMGSY has paved way in promoting self sustainable rural road asset management. According to Google Play Store, the total downloads of “Meri Sadak” Mobile Application crossed 5,00,000 (Dec 2016) from 27,921 (Jan 2016). Also, the overall increase in reviews rose from 718 to 7508 in the same period. The Impact Assessment Study of Improved Rural Road Maintenance System under PMGSY conducted by ILO has reinforced most of the benefits mentioned above. Also the initial discussions on the on-going PMGSY Outcome Monitoring Study including Agriculture Supply Chain Management also outlined these mentioned benefits.
Enhanced Monitoring Process The 5 year Defect Liability Period (DLP) under contract, makes the contractor responsible to maintain the constructed road in serviceable condition for 5 years post construction. Still it was found that contractors were not responsible enough to maintain these roads. The citizen engagement in monitoring of these roads has led to more systematic maintenance of roads as well as quality assurance during the construction and maintenance of these roads. Empowerment of Citizens The awareness and onus among the citizens in monitoring bring in sense of pride in the work that they are doing. The motivation and appreciation from the authorities, makes the process more meaningful. This makes the community understand the importance of rural roads, its economic impacts and their right to monitor the roads during and after construction. Increased Women Empowerment The women participation was found has increased in this process of citizen engagement. As the training of volunteers through the Master Trainers takes place in respective village itself, therefore the increase in women participation is observed. So the volunteer group had mix of both gender. Social Audit Though PMGSY has various levels of auditing and accounting systems, starting from award of contract to design life of road, the social audit through citizen engagement was missing and vide this engagement process, this is complete. Thus it is not just Government or Contractor, but citizen particularly the local community, who are direct beneficiary of the road, are also responsible in enthusiastically collecting data and put forward the realistic picture. This makes the whole mechanism in such a way that the onus comes on all the stakeholders. Use of Technology The citizen engagement in monitoring was found more effective when the technology was used in simplest way for data collection and analysis. Access to technical data on Online Monitoring Management and Accounting System (OMMAS) regarding respective road of their village made easier to monitor during construction. Also the road condition data of particular road gave advantage on monitoring during the maintenance period. Use of pictures in reporting as evidences as the case in Meri Sadak mobile application, to put clear and realistic picture of work that is being done on the ground.
Level of Innovation During this citizen engagement in monitoring of PMGSY rural roads, the following level of innovation has been achieved: 1. The awareness among citizens in Gram Sabhas and Panchayats to make the citizen engage in monitoring more effectively. 2. Standardization of process of citizen engagement, toolkits used, testing process for data capturing and reporting methodology, which is acceptable to all stakeholders. 3. Making the data collection and reporting through simplest process which can be easily undertaken by ordinary citizen. Easy access to Information Communication and Technology (ICT) to the citizen. 4. Making citizen as asset in the system of PMGSY which brings in benefits across the sectors in rural development. 5. Above all, this has brought in efficiently the transparency, accountability and social audits into the system of rural roads effectively. 6. Successful citizen engagement across all 7 States.
Replicability • This process of citizen engagement is possible to replicate in all similar rural roads project • Straightforward and plain sailing process to include ordinary citizen in technical monitoring • Meri Sadak, a mobile application is a state of the art Citizen Feedback system that can be taken up as a redressal system for infrastructure. • As the developed process of citizen engagement is not just based on PMGSY, this can be easily adopted by various programmes in rural development including public distribution system, rural housing programmes, rural health missions and education programmes and so on to enhance transparency and accountability in planning, implementation and monitoring. • Creation of Capacity building of grass-root level organizations like Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) and Women Self Help Groups, across country. • Since Indian sub-continent has varied socio-economic status across geography, this system of citizen engagement can be easily adopted in developing countries in their programmes.
Sustainability This process of citizen engagement in monitoring of PMGSY roads is strategized to wholly embed into the system. With the applauding support from the Government both in policy and huge fund support to Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) will cater the needs of citizen engagement initiative. The initiatives of Government of India to strengthen Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and involvement of community/all stakeholders into Government programmes makes it sustained initiative across sectors.