A delay in receiving public services also increases expenditure for citizens and officials. People become reluctant to avail the services due to a lack of transparency - a lasting colonial legacy - and inadequate administrative reforms.
Cumbersome and time-consuming public services slow down decision-making and policy execution processes of the government, progress and the attainment of national aspirations.
Considering this fact, a2i (Aspire to Innovate) has taken the initiative for Service Process Simplification (SPS), or converting manual services to electronic or mobile-based services (E/M services).
Digitisation has brought efficiency and reforms of tools, in a more effective, transparent, accountable, and inclusive manner.
These digital platforms encompass the whole of the government approach, covering a wide range of issues and institutions, including information dissemination, e-governance, e-learning, e-commerce, data-driven decision-making, innovation etc.
Time, Cost and Visit (TCV) measurement is a unique evaluation tool to assess the service delivery process, by measuring impacts from the citizen's point of view.
This tool helps different agencies of the government to design more citizen-focused services through innovation and digitsation. It's an effective tool for simplifying public services (SPS), enhancing service recipients' satisfaction, and reducing their miseries.
SPS is mapped around reducing TCV:
a) Time needed to receive a service
b) Cost (fees, travel cost, opportunity and other contingent liabilities), and
c) Number of visits to government offices to complete and receive service.
By prioritising citizen-centred evaluations, the TCV tool has helped to identify gaps and inefficiencies in service delivery, and has enabled the government to take corrective measures to improve public service delivery.
It has also contributed to promoting transparency and accountability in public service delivery and building trust between citizens and the government.
Mr Shakil is a young professional who lives in Dhaka city. A few years ago, he decided to pursue higher studies abroad and needed to obtain a passport. He knew from his friends that getting a passport was a time-consuming, expensive, and often cumbersome process that involved long queues and multiple visits to government offices.
He thought he needed an application for multiple days' leave from his office to complete his passport formalities but then came to know about the online passport service.
He filled out the passport application form online and uploaded his photograph and supporting documents from his smartphone. He also paid the passport fees online, eliminating the need to visit a bank to pay the fees and choose the appointment date and time.
On the day of his appointment, Mr Shakil arrived at the passport office and was pleasantly surprised to find that there were no long queues or waiting times. He quickly processed all the required official procedures for a passport within a few hours. He could not believe how efficient and hassle-free the process was compared to what he had heard from others.
Mr Shakil's experience provides a positive anecdote about the impact of digital government services on the customer experience and efficiency of service delivery.
Overall, the online passport service in Bangladesh has made it easier for millions of people to obtain passports quickly and efficiently, enabling them to travel, work, and study abroad. This is a significant step towards modernising government services and improving citizens' satisfaction.
The Government of Bangladesh is focused on innovation and digitisation in public service delivery to improve accessibility for citizens. However, measuring the effectiveness of these digitised services was initially challenging.
The TCV Measurement tool was used to calculate TCV for a total of 1,955 digital services belonging to 318 agencies and 39 ministries until December 2022. This indicates the scale of the government's digitisation efforts and provides insight into the resources invested in these efforts.
Number of customers: The data shows people have been served a total of 6.06 billion times from the 1,955 digital services rendered by different ministries, departments, and agencies. This suggests that the government's digitisation efforts have had a widespread impact on the public.
Time, Cost, and Visits savings: TCV calculation results indicate that the government's digitisation efforts have resulted in significant savings for service recipients. Specifically, service recipients saved 16.83 billion days, $21.92 billion in costs, and 12.7 billion in visits.
Pre-digitisation state comparison: Based on data, it also highlights the impact of the government's digitisation efforts by comparing the current state to the pre-digitisation state.
The comparison indicates that the government's existing digitisation and service simplification efforts have resulted in significant savings for service recipients.
Especifically, the government's digitisation efforts have saved service recipients 73% time, 68% cost, and 85% visits compared to the pre-digitisation state.
Taken as a whole, the data suggests that the government's digitisation efforts have significantly improved public service delivery by increasing efficiency, reducing costs, and saving time for service recipients.
Additionally, digitisation has helped to ensure transparency and accountability in service delivery, which can help build trust in government institutions. Overall, these efforts have helped to modernise and improve service delivery in Bangladesh.
The author is a Programme Associate – Data, in a2i (Aspire to Innovate).
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard