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Afghanistan

Develop Electronic Complaint System for Local Government (AF0020)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Afghanistan Action Plan 2019-2021

Action Plan Cycle: 2019

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: The Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG)

Support Institution(s): Civil society organizations

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, E-Government, Local Commitments, Public Participation, Social Accountability

IRM Review

IRM Report: Afghanistan Design Report 2019-2021

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Civic Participation , Public Accountability

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review

Description

What is the public problem that the commitment will address?
Existence of administrative corruption has resulted in the lack of transparency at some sub-national levels and created gap between people and government. In some cases, people join extremist groups. Local governments have not been able to understand public priorities this causes public mistrust in the democratic process and reduces public hope for aforementioned processes. Misuse of power and authority in the selection and implementation of projects at sub-national level is one of the major reasons of corruption. Existence of corruption in some offices, inaccessibility of public to register their complaints and receive the right feedback created gap between public and officials. Gaps eliminate efficiency in public service delivery and projects implementation.

What is the commitment?
Develop inspectable electronic system to receive and address complaints report to complainants at sub-national level. The portal will receive and address complaints at the provincial level within a specified time (within 10 working days), and report about the complaints. The system has three distinct sections: filing complaints, receiving and addressing the complaints, and reporting on conclusion and outcome of complaints. People can visit the website, submit their complaints online and receive feedback. Civil society can continuously monitor system activities. System tracks the status of every complaint with a timeframe and specifies particular office to address/solve the complaint. Listening to voice of people and addressing their problems through this electronic system will attain good governance. Office of the governor bears the responsibility to monitor the system.

How will the commitment contribute to solving the public problem?
Public can conveniently register and share their complaints through electronic online system with the local governments/bodies. Having considered public complaints and opinions, local governments identify the public needs and shall provide better and appropriate services. This system will probably reduce the gap between people and local governments and ascertain public participation in governance. As a result, accountability, transparency, and public trust in democratic values and good governance will increase.

Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values?
This commitment is related to four OGP values. Applying the latest technology increases civic participation. Through public participation transparency, accountability will be expanded at sub-national level.
Transparency to address public complaints and need based service delivery in participation with CSOs will surge. This commitment creates transparent informational mechanisms and makes sub-nationals accountable to public.

Additional information
IDLG policies with civic participation to promote public participation and transparency.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

7. Develop Inspectable Electronic System to Receive and Address Complaints in Local Government

Develop inspectable electronic system to receive and address complaints report to complainants at sub-national level. The portal will receive and address complaints at the provincial level within a specified time (within 10 working days) and report about the complaints. The system has three distinct sections: filing complaints, receiving and addressing the complaints, and reporting on conclusion and outcome of complaints. People can visit the website, submit their complaints online, and receive feedback. Civil society can continuously monitor system activities. System tracks the status of every complaint with a timeframe and specifies particular office to address/solve the complaint. Listening to voice of people and addressing their problems through this electronic system will attain good governance. Office of the Governor bears the responsibility to monitor the system.

Main Objective

Public can conveniently register and share their complaints through electronic online system with the local governments/bodies. Having considered public complaints and opinions, local governments identify the public needs and shall provide better and appropriate services. This system will probably reduce the gap between people and local governments and ascertain public participation in governance. As a result, accountability, transparency, and public trust in democratic values and good governance will increase.

Milestones

  • Requirements gathering to develop online system.
  • Preparing necessary procedures for the development of system.
  • Design and develop Information System.
  • Provide training to staff on how to use the system and make it accessible to general public.
  • Public awareness on newly introduced online system and implementation of system in 4 major cities of Afghanistan.

Editorial Note: For the complete text of this commitment, please see Afghanistan’s action plan at https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Afghanistan_Action-Plan_2019-2021_EN.pdf.

IRM Design Report Assessment

Verifiable:

Yes

Relevant:

Civic Participation, Public Accountability

Potential impact:

Moderate

Commitment Analysis

This commitment aims to develop an online portal, or information system, where citizens could file complaints regarding the government’s performance and public service delivery at the subnational level. Similar to Commitment 2 on the amendment to the Local Governance Law, this commitment focuses on improving governance at the local level. It opens opportunities for citizens to file complaints against misconduct, gaps in service delivery, and other forms of inefficiency. The Independent Directorate of Local Governance will lead the implementation of this commitment, in collaboration with civil society stakeholders.

In the status quo, public complaints could be directed to local government officials manually through the local government office. This makes the process of filing public complaints complicated, time consuming, and relatively cost-ineffective. [81] A complaint management system (CMS) on the mmis.dmm.gov.af website has been launched in recent years, [82] albeit only covering governance at the municipal level. Thus, public complaints can be filed only in areas of service that are maintained by the Deputy Ministry of Municipalities. [83] However, through this commitment, the government aims to develop a system where citizens can file complaints on services at all levels and in all areas of governance easily, quickly, and cost-effectively.

The system, or portal, will include features for citizens not only to file a complaint, but also to track the status of their complaints. This will allow citizens an opportunity to have a say in how services are delivered and how laws are enforced, and to demand accountability in related processes. Therefore, this commitment is relevant to the OGP values of civic participation and public accountability.

If fully implemented as written, this commitment stands to have a moderate potential impact on addressing public concerns and complaints at the local level. This commitment builds on the existing system of collecting public feedback at the municipal level but aims to expand its scope and improve transparency. In developing the public complaints portal, several improvements will be made, based on the experience with the existing municipality complaints system. For example, civil society will be given an oversight role to monitor the government’s handling of and responses to public complaints. [84]

Additionally, the government will launch initiatives to increase public awareness of the system. This effort will include campaigns on television and radio broadcasts, newspaper placements, brochures, and seminars at schools, universities, and mosques. [85] This awareness is important. Despite having been launched and made available for public access, the municipal-level CMS only received 600 complaints across 33 municipalities throughout 2019. [86]

However, despite the commitment’s promise, technical challenges—particularly, the low internet penetration rate—could hamper its potential impact and effectiveness. Data reported by the Afghanistan Telecommunications Regulatory Authority in the first quarter of 2020 showed that only around 18.8 percent of Afghanistan’s total population have consistent access to the internet. [87] High costs; geographical challenges, especially in remote areas; and inadequate technological infrastructure are just some of the challenges that have kept many in Afghanistan from accessing the internet. [88]

According to a government official, however, in addition to being able to use the website for public complaints, citizens will also be able to register and track complaints through a mobile application and call centers. [89] The use of call centers, in particular, expands the scope of this commitment beyond the online system, ameliorates associated risks, and provides greater opportunity for wider public participation.

Overall, therefore, the commitment benefits greatly from proposing a comprehensive and carefully considered approach. It covers not only the process of filing public complaints, but also the mechanism that the government must adhere to in efficiently managing such complaints within a specified time. According to a government representative, upon confirmation of receipt of a public complaint, the government will give the responsible government office 10 days to provide a response.

To ensure the integrity of the system, the government will minimize human intervention and automate this process as much as possible. [90] The data generated by the system could be used as a possible measure of the government’s compliance in responding to public complaints. However, there is a lack of clarity on the nature of the mandated response. This lack, and the possibility that such a response may be automated, makes it unclear whether citizens can expect meaningful recourse or merely an acknowledgment of receipt of a complaint.

Going forward, as the government and civil society organize awareness-raising activities, it is imperative that capacity-building initiatives are carried out, especially those targeting service delivery administrators at different levels of subnational government. Among other areas, the capacity building could focus on enhancing technical expertise in using the online system and improving bureaucratic efficiency in navigating the resolution of a complaint across different offices within the specified amount of time.

As the system goes live, it is important that the government collect additional user feedback. This feedback could then be used to make improvements to the system or as a baseline to build on when replicating the system in other areas. Additionally, given the technical limitations and limited internet access, the government could also consider strengthening and popularizing alternative channels to file complaints. Citizens could use the call center. Or the government could introduce entirely new mechanisms, such as text messages. Having call centers and giving text message access would provide more accessibility than having an online system, whether in major cities or in remote areas. The public complaints system run by the Office of the President offers a toll-free line that citizens can call to file complaints and follow up on them. [91] That system is a good example of an approach that prioritizes accessibility.

[81] Integrity Watch Afghanistan, interview by IRM researcher, 4 June 2020.
[82] “Complaints Management System,” Independent Directorate of Local Governance of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, accessed July 2020, https://mmis.dmm.gov.af/CMS/RegisterComplaint.aspx.
[83] Abdul Samad Maqsodi (Independent Directorate of Local Governance of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan), interview by IRM researcher, 31 May 2020.
[84] Integrity Watch Afghanistan interview.
[85] Maqsodi interview.
[86] Ibid.
[87] “Afghanistan: Internet Usage, Broadband, and Telecommunication Reports,” Internet World Stats, accessed July 2020, https://www.internetworldstats.com/asia/af.htm.
[88] Sulaiman, “Afghanistan to Slash Prices, Improve Infrastructure to Expand Internet Access,” Asia News, 14 November 2017, https://afghanistan.asia-news.com/en_GB/articles/cnmi_st/features/2017/11/14/feature-01.
[89] Maqsodi interview.
[90] Ibid.
[91] Integrity Watch Afghanistan interview.

Commitments

  1. Revise Law on Recruitment and Authority of Attorneys General

    AF0014, 2019, Access to Justice

  2. Revise Law on Local Government

    AF0015, 2019, Legislation & Regulation

  3. Establish Anti-Corruption Commission

    AF0016, 2019, Anti-Corruption

  4. Draft Beneficial Ownership Legislation

    AF0017, 2019, Anti-Corruption

  5. Portal for Processing Legislative Documents

    AF0018, 2019, Capacity Building

  6. CSO Monitoring of Education

    AF0019, 2019, E-Government

  7. Develop Electronic Complaint System for Local Government

    AF0020, 2019, Capacity Building

  8. Reform and Strengthen Education Data

    AF0021, 2019, Access to Information

  9. Participation in Local Budgeting

    AF0022, 2019, Fiscal Openness

  10. Electronic Revenue Collection System

    AF0023, 2019, Capacity Building

  11. Co-Create University Curriculum

    AF0024, 2019, Education

  12. Reform Promotion System for Police Officers

    AF0025, 2019, E-Government

  13. Monitoring Framework for Medicine Wholesalers

    AF0026, 2019, E-Government

  14. Monitoring of Private and Public Health Centers

    AF0027, 2019, E-Government

  15. Participation in National Budget

    AF0028, 2019, Fiscal Openness

  16. Open Justice for Anti-Corruption

    AF0029, 2019, Access to Justice

  17. Women's Empowerment Plan

    AF0030, 2019, Gender

  18. Establishment of Women Grand Council

    AF0031, 2019, Gender

  19. Law on Processing, Publishing and Enforcing Legislative Documents

    AF0002, 2017, Legislation & Regulation

  20. Courts to Address Violence Against Women

    AF0003, 2017, Access to Justice

  21. Public-Police Partnership Councils

    AF0004, 2017, Capacity Building

  22. Registering Assets of Government Officials

    AF0005, 2017, Anti-Corruption

  23. Scheme for Establishing Health Service Accreditation Entity

    AF0006, 2017, Capacity Building

  24. Urban Improvement National Policy

    AF0007, 2017, Infrastructure & Transport

  25. Protection Policy for Women Under Conflict and Emergency Situations

    AF0008, 2017, Fiscal Openness

  26. Civil Society Monitoring Plan for Education and Higher Education

    AF0009, 2017, Education

  27. Plan for the Establishment of a Joint Committee Overseeing the Implementation of the Anti-Corruption Strategy

    AF0010, 2017, Anti-Corruption

  28. Strengthen the Information Mechanism in 60 Governmental Agencies

    AF0011, 2017, Access to Information

  29. Starred commitment Implementing Open Contracting

    AF0012, 2017, Access to Information

  30. Starred commitment Public Participation in Road Network Projects

    AF0013, 2017, Infrastructure & Transport

  31. Starred commitment Mechanism of Public Partnership in Inspection Process

    AF0001, 2017, Anti-Corruption

Open Government Partnership