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RTI, Transparency and Good Governance

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RTI, Transparency and Good Governance Presentation by Shri A.N. Tiwari, Central Information Commissioner Elements of Good Governance Lately, Good ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: RTI, Transparency and Good Governance


1
RTI, Transparency and Good Governance
Presentation by Shri A.N. Tiwari,
Central Information Commissioner
2
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.

3
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.

4
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 countrys
    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.
  • 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.

5
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.

6
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.

7
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.

8
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 citizens 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.

9
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.

10
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 ? Citizens Charters,
    Grievances, Library, Websites, Manuals,
    Brochures, Information Access Facilities, etc.
  • Technology Management Information System
    (e-Governance, etc).
  • Record Management Systems ? Storing, Retrieval
    Access

11
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 Management
  • Awareness among citizens ? Demand-side Management
  • Record Management Systems ? Storing, Retrieval
    Access
  • Clarity in Responsibility for Information
    Record Management

12
Designing Information Systems Examples
  • Human Resource Management Information System
  • Financial Management Information System
  • Legal Case-load Management Information System
  • Customer Relationship Management

13
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.

14
Information Service Delivery
  • Some Suggestions
  • Human Resource Issues
  • Training

15
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.

16
Other Aspects of implementing RTI Act
  • The Capacity Building Challenge
  • Empowerment of Citizens ? Mechanisms for
    Information Audit.
  • Addressing Governance Issues
  • Public Procurement and its problems
  • Using Technology e-Procurement
  • Scope of e-Procurement Services
  • Andhra Pradeshs e-Procurement System Cost
    Savings
  • e-Procurement Model PPP

17
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) 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.

18
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.

19
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
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