A Citizen’s Charter as a product is a short public document that gives important information about the services provided by the public agency concerned. Developed jointly by citizens and government officials, the Charter explains the services available and how to access them as well as procedures for complaints, and how to correct shortcomings in service provision. As a process, however, the Citizen’s Charter responds to the Information Commissioner’s desire to advance pro-active public disclosure at sub-national levels and provides on-going citizen support to the Office of Comptroller and Auditor General’s performance monitoring efforts.
As far as TIB is concerned, Citizens Charter is not an end itself, nor can it be viewed in isolation from a set of other social accountability tools. It is a stage in a series of social accountability interventions leading to an innovation called Integrity Pledge (IP) that involves voluntary engagement of the officials and service providers with the service recipients and other citizens to promote transparency and accountability at the delivery of services in vital sectors such as education, health and local government. As a legally non-binding social contract, the IP contributes to accountability and transparency in a process that involves in addition to Citizens Charter such non-conventional tools as Citizens Report Card, Advice & Information, Open Budget, Face the Public, which eventually lead to an Integrity Pledge. Introduced by TIB in 27 local level institutions of public service delivery, the IP has built-in process of application and monitoring.
The Citizens Charter as experimented by TIB is essentially a stage of social accountability reached in a process built through a number of steps and tools.