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May 11, 2018
Simplified Services Bring Citizens out of the “Shadows”
The persistence of hidden government services complicates interactions between government agencies and citizens. Complicated or unclear processes for accessing such services have even led some citizen to hide their true circumstances from government agencies.
Not long ago, the procedures for applying for renovation and reconstruction of one’s own apartment was so complicated, that it deterred applicants from completing the process. The procedures could take months, sometimes years. Memories of endless certificates, signatures, and long lines – to be repeated for each approval process – symbolize the work of government bureaucratic for many citizens.
Asem Nurtayeva, resident of Ust-Kamenogorsk, was all too familiar with the challenges of bureaucracy. After she renovated her Soviet-era apartment, Asem went to file the appropriate paperwork. “When I started to ask out about the documentation, I was told that [the renovation] was illegal and that the documents on the completed work couldn’t be issued.” Many Kazakhstani families have found themselves in Asem’s situation after undertaking home renovation projects. Without an up-to-date ‘technical passport’ for the house or apartment, it is impossible to buy or sell the property – and in some situations can carry heavy fines.
In an effort to improve the quality and efficiency of government services, the Fund for Informational Support for Society Development, based in Ust-Kamenogorsk, launched the project “Quality of Services: A Zone for Public Monitoring” in 2016. The initiative has successfully introduced new tools into the work of government agencies with the goal of simplifying and standardizing the process of public service financing, regulation, and delivery at all levels. The new methods introduced through the project to identify and legalize ‘hidden’ services have already generated promising results.
Today, receiving the appropriate paperwork for home renovations has been simplified; procedures have been standardized and included in the register of government services. Asem experienced this shift first-hand: “I submitted my certificates and blueprint, and in 10 days I received the paperwork for my renovation. It was quick and painless. I saw for myself the result of a simplified documentation process. It was great.”
In December 2017, the methods developed through the project were presented at a national governance, where they received high ratings from members of the majilis, or lower parliament, and representatives of national and local government agencies in attendance. The methods have been have been forwarded to the national government of Kazakhstan for final approval and adoption by government agencies.
The project “Quality of Services: A Zone for Public Monitoring”, launched by the Fund for Informational Support for Society Development in 2016, was made possible by the Good Governance Initiative Fund, a project of the US Agency for International Development and the Eurasia Foundation of Central Asia. The Fund awards grants to traditionally underserved CSOs in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan to improve governance practice through improved public service delivery, public policy, and legislation.