How Local Government Service Delivery Standards would empower clients

Local governmentDr Callistus Mahama, Head of the Local Government Service (LGS), on December 18, 2014, launched the Service Delivery Standards (SDS) in Accra, in accordance with its mandate to ensure effective administrative decentralisation.

The SDS is a major pillar in the decentralisation policy as enshrined in Chapter 20 of the 1992 Constitution, which seeks to improve the administrative and human resource capacity of members of the Service to ensure quality service delivery to the citizenry.

The SDS is to manage, measure and monitor the effectiveness of the implementation of these standards and inform the clients on what to expect.

The objectives for developing the SDS are to define minimum levels of services that the LGS should provide and what service recipients should expect in terms of quantity, quality, time and cost and determine minimum cost implications for providing services.

It also aims at empowering service recipients and communities to demand the services due to them at the appropriate standards, provide a basis upon which feedback on the level of satisfaction against the standard criteria could be evaluated and provide a basis for the review of management systems and processes.

The SDS booklet contains acceptable principles and measurements that would serve as a general guide and reference to staff of the LGS particularly those at the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) whose services emphasises more on the management of physical infrastructure and other public services such as roads, building, housing, water and sanitation, waste management, agriculture, health, education, social and environmental activities.

The SDS is crucial to develop transparent and acceptable minimum values or principles to guide both the delivery of services to the citizenry, who have expectations about the public service.

The need for SDS for local government service is important as they are mechanisms by which transparency, accountability and mutual trust are ensured between duty bearers and right holding citizenry, which establish the minimum levels of service delivery and serve as a means of improving clients’ satisfaction.

Since 2012 the LGS has been engaged in a process of defining acceptable SDS to establish a universal framework for its operationalisation and this has been the desire of the service to deliver quality service to the citizenry.

The   LGS Act, 2003 (Act 656), provisions enjoins it to set performance standards within which MMDAs and (Regional Coordinating Councils (RCCs) shall carry out their functions and discharge their duties, monitor and evaluate performance standards of the District Assemblies and RCCs.

The LGS and local government are more responsive to the needs and preferences of local communities due to their proximity to the citizenry than the central government and this reinforces the need to identify and set acceptable and pragmatic service delivery standards in a participatory manner.

The definition of the SDS is pivotal because the citizenry are entitled to know what they should expect from government, how services would be delivered, what services cost and what clients could do and when services they receive are not acceptable.

These standards are a description of the service provided and where applicable the benefits clients are entitled to received, service pledges or principles describing the quality of service delivery clients should expect to receive, specific delivery targets for key aspects of the service, complaint and redress mechanisms clients could use when they feel standards have not been met.

For the adherence and operationalisation of the SDS to yield the expected benefits to the citizenry, stakeholders need to have a common understanding of their definition and measurement indicators.

The strategies and institutional frame work as well as the time frame for effecting the standards are also crucial.

The SDS is an initiative that would provide a means to improve the effectiveness of the LGS by linking and aligning individual and team responsibilities to service delivery and also providing the mechanism for enlisting trust from the public.

The goals of the SDS are yardstick for measuring and evaluating performance in the context of a Performance Management System.

Dr Mahama expressed gratitude for the collaboration and support of key stakeholders from the RCCs, civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations and Public Service Commission.

The LGS also appreciate the immense support extended to it by the European Union and Danish International Development Agency in the development of the SDS.

The LGS was established by the LGS Act, 2003, Act 656.

The mission of the service is to support local government to deliver value for money services through the mobilisation and utilisation of qualified human capacity and material resources to promote local and national development.

“It is also to provide uniformity and consistency in the provision of services at the local levels, provide mechanism for both service providers and clients to measure, monitor, evaluate and report on the actual performance against the planned targets for further improvements and enforce quality assurance and put compliance mechanisms in place to measure and benchmark service delivery against best practices.”

By Amadu Kamil Sanah

Source: GNA

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