April 2010

Citizen’s Call Centre: Towards Inclusive Governance

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The Citizen’s Call Centre (CCC) is a Government/Public Call Centre, which is equipped to provide information to citizens in a user-friendly manner. An IT-enabled single window facility, the Call Centre is positioned as a platform that enables easy and effective interaction between the citizens and the government and quick delivery of authentic information.

Background

The concept of inclusive governance is gaining wide currency in recent times.The United Nations Development Programme recognises inclusive governance as being critical to human development.

Kerala is the cent per cent literate State in India. Kerala also has led the country in employing ICT for the betterment of the masses. Towards this end, the Government launched the pioneering project of Akshaya in 2002 to bridge the digital divide and make some 65 lakh families in the State e-Literate. The project has emerged as a catalyst in creating massive economic growth and creation of direct and indirect employment in the State by focusing on the various facts of e-Learning, e-Transaction and e-Governance etc.

Citizen’s Call Centre

The main facilities provided by the Citizen’s Call Centre, Kerala are, Information Services and Complaint Registry.

INFORMATION SERVICES

30 lines. The Primary Rate Interface (PRI) is a telecommunication standard used in Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) for carrying multiple voice and data transmissions between two physical locations. Upon receiving the call, the call operator quickly accesses the electronic database with more than 2000 government processes and effi ciently delivers the information.

The project started in the year 2005
with nine departments participating in it. The number rose to 35 departments/ projects in the year 2009. The following table shows the numbers of departments and calls received to the call centre over the years 2005 to 2009. As of October 2009, the Citizen’s Call Centre had handled 134,824 calls pertaining to as many as 35 Government departments/projects.

COMPLAINT REGISTRY


The Citizen’s Call Centre also facilitates
as a platform for registering citizen’s complaints/grievances regarding the functioning of various government departments. It serves as a complaint registry for senior offi cials/ministers of government departments and accepts registered both in Malayalam and English, over the telephone. The complaints received over the phone are transcribed by the operators and forwarded to the heads of respective department by e-mail. Instant mobile alerts can also be sent to pre-designated mobile numbers.

COMPLAINTS UNDER SUTHARYA KERALAM

The Sutharya Keralam is an innovative project of the Government of Kerala aimed at bridging the gap between the public and the Government to ensure effi ciency and transparency. This project helps to bring the complaints and grievances of citizens directly to the notice of the Chief Minister.

The Citizen’s Call Centre accepts complaints calls, transcribes them and send as electronic data to the Chief Minister’s Grievance Redressal Cell. At the Cell, the complaints are recorded in a server placed at the Government Secretariat. All complaints are given due attention. Select complainants can talk to the Chief Minister Live through the teleconferencing facility set up at different district  offi ces and grievances are replied to directly by the Chief Minister and the same is aired ive as ‘Sutharyakeralam’ programme telecaste by Doordarshan Keralam on all Sundays between 7.15 and 8 pm. The data collected via the call centre together with the data collected through the online public interface acts a guideline for grievance redressal processes.

The Citizen’s Call Centre accepts complaints calls, transcribes them and send as electronic data to the Chief Minister’s Grievance Redressal Cell.

The data collected via the call centre together with the data collected through the online public interface acts a guideline for grievance redressal processes.

TAXES – CHECK POST COMPLAINTS –

The Call Centre also accepts complaints for Tax Department and complaints regarding Check-posts round the clock. Tax related complaints received are quickly passed on (both by e-mail and mobile alert) to the Commissioner, Commercial Taxes and Special Tax Offi cer.The Commercial Taxes Department  enquires about the complaint, takes any necessary action and informs them both to the complainant as well as the Call Centre. The Action Taken Report sent by the Department enables the Call Centre to furnish details if the complainant makes further enquiries about his/her complaint. State Consumer Helpline –  Food and Civil Supplies Department – Since May 2008 the Citizen’s Call Centre has been accepting complaints relating to the Civil Supplies Department. These complaints are forwarded to the Director of Civil Supplies and the Secretary to Government, Food Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs to their e-mail IDs.

Thus the main features of the Citizen’s Call Centre are:
1. Accessible from anywhere in the State using the number 155300 at local call charges (Mobile users have to add 0471)
2. Networks other than BSNL may use 0471-2335523, 0471-2115054 or 0471-2115098
3. State Consumer Helpline can be accessed through the toll free number 1800-425-1550
4. Manned by people well versed with the relevant Acts, Rules and procedures
5. Full fl edged data base with more than 2000 government processes
6. Key search facilities incorporated in the software for speedy access
7. Operates on all days except National holidays in a 24×7 manner
8. Information pertaining to various government departments and complaint registration facility included in the project.

ROLE OF PARTICIPATING DEPARTMENTS

The Citizen’s Call Centre actually serves as an interface between the government departments and the public by providing various services, as has been outlined above. The effi cacy of information delivery at the Call Centre depends on the quality of information provided by the respective departments.

To achieve this, the participating departments are asked to compile an extensive list of frequently asked questions/queries for ready reference and retrieval by the call centre operators. Key search facilities have been incorporated in the software to facilitate easy information retrieval. The participating departments are further advised to nominate a senior offi cial conversant with the schemes, policies as well as the activities of the department as the `Nodal Offi cer` to interact with the Project Manager of the Call Centre. Such a measure ensures that the Call Centre can address a caller’s query even  while it is not listed on the database.

For availing the complaint registration facility at the Call Centre, the departments are requested to provide a template including all the fi elds and
parameters pertaining to each type ofcomplaint.Based on this, the Citizen’sCall Centre conducts a system study to develop asoftware equipped with features like mobile alert, complaint forwarding etc. The cost of this software is borne by  the participating department.

PROJECT ACHIEVEMENTS

1. The fact that the number of participating departments have grown from 9 in 2005 to 35 as of October 2009 is itself an indication of the acceptance of the project
2. The Citizen’s Call Centre has handled 176,904 calls during the period May 2005 to October 2009
3. As many as 1,34,824 complaints have been received by the Citizen’s Call Centre during the year 2009 (as of October)

THE TECHNO-ECONOMIC PERSPECTIVE

Avaya defi nity prologix call centre system is installed in the Citizens Call centre. The system is working with basic Call Centre features. The PRI/ISDN lines are connected to this system. This system keeps a track of the available call executives and also has an inbuilt call hunting facility which automatically distributes the incoming call to the call executives according to their availability.

This feature enables the citizens to seamlessly connect with the call centre without having to wait for a long time. The Call Center is equipped with the state of the art telecom infrastructure and ensures service levels in par with international standards. The Project Manager runs regular checking on calls logged, responses given by the executives and ensures that quality service is  being provided to the public.

System is working with 30 lines PRI/ISDN Digital Lines working with Samptronic Head sets and additional facility for 8 port Centre Offi ce trunks
(analog telephone lines). A Nice Call logger with 8 Channel recording facility at a time is also installed in the CCC. Using this facility all the calls can be recorded and can be stored in other media. The manning of the Call Centre is outsourced  to ‘Kundumbasree’ – an Autonomous organisation under the Government of  Kerala, established under the poverty alleviation mission, ensuring social- inclusion by providing livelihood for executives from the rural areas and belonging to the lower strata of the society.

The call center software was developed during 2004 which follows a two tier client server architecture and allows to keep the FAQs of various departments and these can be searched using keywords. The RDBMS used for developing the software- Front end V.B and Back end is Oracle. The application software is installed in a server and working in a client-server architecture

THE ROAD-MAP

The Citizen’s Call Centre project envisages to bring all the Kerala Government departments under its fold and to emerge as the one-stop destination for all information requirements of the citizens. Government projects and departments including Service and Payroll Administrative Repository of Kerala (SPARK), e- Krishi, KeralaWomen’s Helpline, Sports Council and Commissionerate of Rural Development will be added on to the project shortly.

PROJECT BENEFITS AND
CONCLUSION

The Order of the Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances (DARPG), Government of India, constituting the Second Administrative Reforms Commission “elaborates the concept of “citizencentric administration” in fi ve major components: (i) Accountable and transparent government, (ii)  Resultoriented administration, (iii) Citizen centric decision making, (iv) User groups in decision-making, and (v) Freedom of information. The DARPG appointed a Commission of Inquiry, called the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) “to prepare a detailed blueprint for revamping the public administration system” in August 2005.

The Citizen’s Call Centre project, in
its short span of implementation has conformed to the recommendations of the DARPG by facilitating the following:

1. Promoting accountability and transparency of Government and its Departments
2. Reducing delay and ensuring promptness in delivery of services,
3. Augmenting facilities for submission and redress of grievances and providing replies
4. Disclosing information and transparency as a supplement to the Right to Information of the citizens.

By serving as empowering agent for
the citizens, the Citizen’s Call Centre project is well on its way in its task of helping Kerala achieve inclusive governance.

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