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Rating system planned for govt services

Xu Wei
Updated: Dec 24,2019 09:06 AM    China Daily

The State Council has decided to establish a government service rating system nationwide to spur authorities at various levels to improve their work style and make administrative services more accessible to businesses and the public.

The General Office of the State Council said in a guideline published on Dec 17 that an online integrated evaluation system covering all government service windows, systems, telephone hotlines and terminals will be set up before the end of next year.

The goal is to ensure that each administrative service can be evaluated, while each administrative service provider and platform will be subject to review, the guideline said. It also called on businesses and individuals to share authentic reviews of access to administrative services, and pledged that unfavorable feedback found to be legitimate would lead to rectification of criticized services.

To enable easier access to governance services, the guideline said procedures will be further streamlined and administrative information systems and resources will be better integrated. The functions of one-stop services will be further improved and speeded up.

A national standard on the rating of administrative systems will be developed to enable detailed indexes and rating methods, the guideline said.

Zhu Lijia, a professor of public management at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said the evaluation system would accelerate the transformation of government functions and prevent dereliction of duty and abuse of power.

"The mechanism will also help garner opinions and feedback and improve the work style of officials," he said.

However, it was important to ensure the feedback gathered was objective and truthful, he said, adding that the development of information technology would enable better oversight of services.

"The ultimate goal is to enable authorities to respond to public concerns in a timely manner," he said.

The guideline said administrative service bodies must set up evaluation terminals or QR codes to allow the public to access the rating system and provide reviews, which could include ratings such as very good, good, average, bad and very bad.

Businesses and individuals will also be able to leave feedback on whether guidance is clear and procedures are convenient enough, and suggest further improvements.

The authorities must gather public opinion about the level of awareness of new policies and the level of satisfaction with the services being offered.

Administrative units that receive an unfavorable review must respond as soon as it is received, contact the party that submitted it and make appropriate corrections if the criticism is valid, the guideline said.

It called for data technologies to be used to summarize difficult administrative services procedures and analyze public expectations.

The guideline also highlighted the importance of protecting the rights of those giving evaluations and those subject to reviews, saying that coercion or interference with businesses and individuals providing feedback must be prohibited and their privacy must be protected.

Civil servants whose services are evaluated will be given the right to gather evidence, offer explanations and appeal against unfavorable ratings, it added.

Ma Liang, a public administration professor at Renmin University of China in Beijing, said he was pleasantly surprised to see the authorities borrow from practices commonly used in the e-commerce sector.

However, for the system to achieve its intended outcome, it would be important to conduct the ratings in a detailed manner to make government services more traceable and offer clues for further improvement.

In the meantime, it was important to make sure businesses and individuals had the courage to assess government services and administrative bodies were willing to accept assessment.

"The government should make full use of the large amount of data accumulated in the process, and find problems and take due measures required to rectify them," he said. "Thus we need to make the rating system applicable, easily accessible and truly count."