Citizens of the Philippines were used to receiving poor service in government offices. Activities as basic as obtaining a driver’s license were slow and complex, and the tortuous processes created opportunities for public employees to solicit bribes for faster service. In an effort to improve service delivery, Congress passed the Anti–Red Tape Act in 2007. But, getting civil servants to comply with the act from civil servants presented a big challenge. In 2010, the Civil Service Commission began to conduct annual social audits to assess both the public’s satisfaction with frontline services and the degree to which offices adhered to the Act’s provisions. For the audits to succeed, the commission had to both persuade skeptical citizens to cooperate with the survey, and find ways to motivate civil servants to improve in response to poor ratings. Because budget constraints limited the use of financial incentives, the commission linked the results to other oversight programs and used social pressure to prod civil servants to improve the quality and efficiency of their work. During the survey’s first four years, the commission oversaw improvement in citizens’ ratings of public services but still faced challenges in raising awareness of the law and using it reshape public expectations.
Maya Gainer drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Manila in November 2014. Case published April 2015.
Associated Interview(s): Jesse Robredo