Successive governments have promised to improve the quality of service the state provides to the general public. However, this has been far from the case. The general public visiting government offices to avail of services provided by the state invariably face a lot of hassles thanks to uncooperative stance of the civil servants. The situation is far from satisfactory even now despite the incumbent government’s unequivocal stance in regard to efficient delivery of services to the citizens. The case of Kalanki Digital Land Revenue Office exemplifies the inefficiency of most government offices in the country.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had inaugurated the ‘fully digital’ facility in June this year with a view to deliver service to the public in a prompt and transparent manner, but five months down the line, as per a news report in this daily, things seem to have degraded to the usual state that one experiences in a government office. The office has token-issue machines and display boards to serve the people on first-come-first-serve basis. However, the machines have gone out of order, so the service seekers throng its windows and doors.
A digitalised office, as the name suggests, should be free from the use of paper and cash. However, the digital infrastructure does not seem to have reduced the use of papers. The office employees tend to rely on years-old books of records while the service seekers are seen going around with papers of different sorts. Strangely, the model office still maintains a paper attendance register for its staff despite the installation of two digital attendance machines. Another merit of digital system is to discourage middlemen who pester the service seekers but the office is infested with numerous middlemen and paralegals and it is pretty hard for people to get services without their involvement. There is often disruption in service delivery system due to the breakdown of Internet and the server. The only thing functioning as per the plan is the one-door system, relieving the service seekers from going room to room to get the work done.
This is not merely the case of Kalanki Land Revenue Office. In fact it is a general characteristic of almost every government office across the country. It has been years since the government automated the driving license issuing system. Anyone wishing to get a driving license can fill the form online and is supposed to get it without any trouble. However, the arrangement is far from functioning. Mostly the server is down and the service seekers have to stand in queue for hours to submit their application and wait for months before they actually receive the license. Similarly, individuals wishing to make their passport can fill the form online before they visit the concerned office for further action. Nevertheless, most service seekers don’t have an easy access to computer or are unfamiliar with the formalities and have to rely on middlemen to get their work done.
The situation is almost similar in most other government offices. The government employees are not cooperative, so the ordinary citizens either face a lot of hassles or have to pay the cunning middlemen to have their tasks accomplished. Unless the government succeeds in changing the mind-set of the employees most of whom are guided by personal interest rather than a desire to serve the general public, even the digital service system won’t guarantee fair and transparent service to the countrymen.