An Innovative Tool to Measure Citizens’ Hassle in Accessing Public Services

Demystifying innovation, putting citizens at the centre of efforts to improve public service delivery and generating better results. Show more


eveloping citizen-centric metrics to measure inefficiency

Last year, Abdur Rahim, a poor farmer from Kurigram a remote, northern district in Bangladesh, had to travel to the Upazila (sub-district) veterinary hospital which was over 30 km away to seek treatment for his cattle. A week later, he had had to visit the hospital again for the follow up treatment. The lengthy consultation queues and multiple trips ate up 2 full days of his time and cost him BDT 2,500+ for travel alone since he had to hire a small truck to transport the animals.

Recently, however, an animal health service camp was set up in Abdur’s village and as a result, his costs in terms of time and travel expenses have decreased significantly. A TCV (time, cost, and number of visits) study revealed that by providing ‘services at doorsteps’, the animal health service camp had reduced 77% of the time, 97% of the entire cost by eliminating the need for citizens to visit facilities located far from their village.

TCV: Placing citizens at the centre of efforts to improve public services

Reducing TCV has now become the byword for innovation within the Bangladesh government.

Reducing the time, cost and number of visits it takes for citizens to access public information and services puts them at the centre and offers simple parameters to measure and communicate efforts to improve public services and their delivery systems.

However, when a2i first started talking to civil servants and development practitioners about innovation; they almost immediately got bogged down in debates around what did or did not constitute innovation. What exactly is ‘innovation’? How do you identify it? How do you measure how ‘innovative’ something was? Opinions were sharply divided at the senior levels while frontline government employees – who were closer to citizens and thus potentially had more ideas to contribute – found it difficult to even conceptualize it.

TCV as a results management tool

TCV also helped replace confusing and frequently misinterpreted jargon like ‘outcome’ and ‘impact’. Since civil servants and development practitioners understand exactly what indicators to record and track, it has contributed immensely to an increase in the amount and quality of data that is collected and made available. Thus, TCV is also gaining popularity as a results-management tool.

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