The online tool will monitor how long it takes agencies to process applications for their services

ICT: An online monitoring tool that will allow the Prime Minister to personally track how long government agencies take to process online public service applications, was launched, yesterday.

Called the PM’s eDesk, the system will provide the Prime Minister with a real-time graphical representation of the status of 24 government-to-citizen (G2C) services provided by five ministries: home, agriculture, economic and foreign affairs, and education. A further 22 of five agencies are expected to be added to the eDesk system by June.

The applications are categorised into three levels: On time, at risk, and delayed. Each category is also accorded a colour code: green, orange, and red, respectively.

An application placed in the “on time” green zone will indicate that the concerned agency has responded to and completed processing the application within the stipulated turn around time.

An application in the orange or “at risk” zone would have exceeded its turnaround time but has entered an extended grace period. A grace period is automatically calculated based on the length of the turnaround time, and therefore varies from one to three days.

A “delayed” application has exceeded both its turnaround and grace period and falls in the red zone.

When a service is delayed and has reached the red zone, the Prime Minister is provided a link to send an email inquiry to the concerned minister, secretary, and even head of the division.

The system allows the user to trace a delayed application all the way to the department concerned.

Information such as how many applications are received, and approved or rejected are also provided.

The eDesk system also auto-generates a time stamp at the time a citizen submits an online application, so that the applicant is aware of the expected time for delivery of service.

The eDesk system is being introduced to provide a monitoring and evaluation system for service delivery in Bhutan. There is currently no established mechanism for tracking and evaluating service delivery here.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said that citizens have been facing difficulty in availing public services. “If people cannot avail required services on time, it’s the same as not getting the services at all,” he said, during the launch ceremony.

Lyonchoen added that his office will monitor the progress of G2C services to ensure their on time delivery. He said that while most ministries have been able to meet their service delivery requirements, there are some that have not. “I don’t know whether the officials concerned were out of office, or the internet was not working,” he said.

Lyonchoen pointed out that with the Prime Minister’s Office monitoring G2C service delivery, the government will know which ministries and departments provide public services on time, and which do not. “I will personally make a call or email the concerned officials to follow up if their work is pending,” he said. “I will check it first thing each morning.” The system can be accessed on any internet connected device.

Besides the real-time picture of how applications are being processed, the eDesk system will also provide a historical trend of how an agency has handled applications.

Lyonchoen said the main objective of the PM’s eDesk system is to ensure prompt delivery of services and that as long as there is an internet connection, the government should be able to provide these services on time.

The performance of the agencies as recorded by the eDesk system will also be linked to the Performance Management System and be used during year-end evaluation of an agency. Five percent of an agency’s grade is based on service delivery.

G2C office head, Sonam P Thaye, said that an institutionalised computer based system would ensure that an agency is objectively monitored for its service delivery performance. She said this would do away with a prior loophole where officials with good negotiating skills were usually able to explain and cover up service delivery lapses.

G2C’s Lungten Zangmo said the remaining 22 services, which include the security service clearance, could not be added right away as many had been developed independently by agencies but under the G2C project. Work is underway to add them by June.

By Gyalsten K Dorji