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Grievance Redress Mechanisms in the Public Sector: A Literature Review

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This paper is part of the background research for the Skeptic’s Guide to Open Government (2022 Edition). Suchi Pande and Naomi Hossain developed it with guidance from the Accountability Research Center.

Grievance redress mechanisms (GRMs) in the public sector are institutionalized processes designed to enable people to complain about and seek redress for services they rightfully should have received. This paper reviews evidence on GRMs from around the world, focusing on mechanisms attached to public services and programs in the Global South, where they are relatively new and emerging fast. GRMs matter in particular in the Global South because they are increasingly widespread and found in multilateral aid programs, across national governments, within specific programs and services, as well as in the private sector. GRMs are expected to improve public service efficiency, effectiveness, and fairness by giving people a systematic means of seeking redress for governance failures, and they have strong potential to improve accountability to the most excluded and marginalized people, who tend to find it most difficult to make claims on their state.

The review includes a simple framework for understanding the key elements of successful GRMs, as identified through the review process. These are: 

  • Citizen capacity to complain
  • State capacity to respond
  • Proactive transparency

The review concludes with key research questions to improve our understanding of how GRMs work and could be better designed and implemented.

Read the full paper below.

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