Importance of Administrative Procedures in Delivering Quality Public ServicesMay 10, 2016
Clearly defined administrative procedures are essential for the provision of public services.
Nowadays the term “public services”, and especially “e-services”, is widely used in the professional community, among lawyers and government representatives, yet only 10 years ago the same term was almost unheard of. Until very recently, the meaning of “public service” was not defined by any legislative act, and up until the spring of 2015 the meaning of “public services” was interpreted variously. The quality of public services provided or produced by the state requires clear cut administrative procedures, defined uniform rules and guidelines, terms and full lists of required documents. Furthermore, clearly defined administrative procedures help organizing a unified and consistent workflow for the government representatives.
On the contrary, the lack of clearly defined administrative procedures have an adverse effect on the efficiency and effectiveness of the government authorities. Consequently, efficiency in the management of public services is legitimate if it falls within the procedural and entitlement parameters set down in law (all required procedures are clearly defined, there is a distinct procedure for filing an appeal in place, there are regulated internal guidelines for the government representatives, and etc.). In the absence of the mentioned above parameters a conflict of interests is emerging within a state agency, most commonly between the agency’s management and the employees. The management demands the services to be both of a high quality and paperless, at the same time the employees cannot satisfy the management’s requirements while being bound by current laws and regulations.
As of today, every government authority has a different understanding of what a public service is. This is evidenced from the current entries on the Unified State Register: a set of services that do not qualify as public services are being entered on the Public Services Register. Amongst the most common entries are the requests from the individuals and legal entities, and records of publishing the information about the management’s working hours.
The administrative procedures are essential for regulating order, general principles and rules of providing the public services. The administrative procedures are also important for the delimitation of the competences between the governmental agencies. Avoiding the conflict of competences, the authorities should therefore provide the services for the individuals and legal entities in accordance with the current legislation (activities regarding permits, approvals, authorizations, licenses, consents and certificates issuance; other registration services; provision of public reimbursements, Government guarantees and benefits; other decision making affecting human and civil rights and liberties).
In other words, the administrative procedures create a unified approach, which helps tracking the timeliness and quality of the delivered public services and sets out the liability for breaching the procedures. At the same time administrative procedures create transparency for the users: the individuals and legal entities understand the legal requirements better, they can assess the quality of the provided services, and file an appeal according to the outlined procedures.
A special Working Group established in 2015 has prepared a draft law on “Administrative procedures”, highlighting the following legal arrangements, that should be executed using administrative procedures:
1. Registering (records) of interested parties
2. Registering land or property with the register of rights to immovable property and transactions therewith
3. Licensing of certain types of activities
4. Issuing documents of consent
5. Providing (realisation) land, subsoil blocks, bodies of water, as well as seizing the listed types of property
6. Providing funds from the budget for grants, public reimbursements, welfares, guarantees, quotas and reliefs
7. Managing public property and public rights, titles and interests
8. Providing residential and non-residential property form the public housing funds for the use of the interested parties
9. Entitlement, calculation and reassessment of pensions and benefits
10. Providing interested parties with entitlements for reliefs and exemptions
11. Providing public qualification certification for interested parties
12. Issuing legally binding official documents
13. Customs and tax administration
14. Issuing technical standards requirements and certificates for products and services
The legal arrangements listed above are settled through the public services system (Paragraph 11 and 13 should be used with certain reservations). Therefore we can conclude that all public services should be provided using the established administrative procedures.
It is also important to distinguish the legal arrangements that do not require the use of the administrative procedures, including the following:
- Internal organizational activities of the governmental agency, which do not affect interested parties
- Internal labour relationship of the governmental agencies, departments and public bodies, including internal labour relationship of the military and law-enforcement authorities
- Enforcement operations, questioning, preliminary investigations, and other criminal enforcement measures
- Civil law relations involving governmental agencies
- Trials and proceedings relating to enforcement of the judgment
- Foreign policy activities, excluding consular function
It would be unfair to say that the legal system of Uzbekistan does not have administrative procedures in place. Almost all public services are provided within legal and regulatory framework, which outlines the procedures, terms and conditions. Nonetheless current administrative procedures are regulated by various legal acts, including by-laws and internal policies of different authorities. The lack of uniform standards has resulted in a fragmented approach to providing public services, with every agency having their own standards and interpretations. Moreover it is important to establish a transparent, well-defined and simple system of communication and collaboration between the agencies.
Creating a framework law on administrative procedures would organize the work of governmental authorities. It would improve communication and understanding between agencies when providing complex public services, and finally, the customers will find public services processes more comprehensible and transparent.