Making Voice Work: The Report Card on Bangalore's Public Service

24 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016

See all articles by Samuel Paul

Samuel Paul

Public Affairs Centre (PAC)

Date Written: May 1998


A citizen's assessment of public services provided evidence of inefficiency and corruption and stimulated public service providers to be more responsive to customers. So, public feedback can change behavior.

Paul reports how a report card on public services in the Indian city of Bangalore was used by citizen groups to create greater public awareness about the poor performance of public service providers and to challenge them to be more efficient and responsive to their customers.

The report card was the result of a survey of a sample of users (both rich and poor) of the city`s services and rated public agencies in terms of public satisfaction with different dimensions of their services. Public feedback was used to quantify the extent of corruption and other indirect costs of the services. The result was a citizens' assessment of public services.

The survey was completed in 1993, but the follow-up activities continued for three years, with the active involvement of several concerned citizen groups and nongovernment bodies. Paul discusses how the media disseminated the report card findings, how public agencies responded to it, and how agencies joined citizen groups in joint initiatives to improve services. Similar report cards have since been prepared on several other large cities in India.

It is not easy to measure the impact of the report card on the quality and responsiveness of Bangalore`s service providers. Paul examines the problems involved and gives some intermediate indicators.

There is some evidence that public awareness of the problems has increased as a result of the experiment. Civil society institutions seem to be more active and their interactions with public agencies have become better organized, more purposeful, and continuous. As a result, some public agencies in Bangalore have begun to take steps to improve their services.

This paper is a product of the Development Research Group. The study was funded by the Bank's Research Support Budget under the research project Effectiveness of Client Surveys in Improving Service Delivery (RPO 682-07). The author may be contacted at

Suggested Citation

Paul, Samuel, Making Voice Work: The Report Card on Bangalore's Public Service (May 1998). Available at SSRN:

Samuel Paul (Contact Author)

Public Affairs Centre (PAC)


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