Social accountability and the quality of service in public offices of Bangladesh
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In Bangladesh, the government operates with little effective accountability or other checks and balances. With high level of corruption and inefficiently damaging service provision, this is seen as a real challenge. In a predominantly rural population, with a poor record service provision, it is crucial to include the ordinary people in the process of exacting accountability of the public officials.This study focuses on identifying and assessing opportunities in the public service sector in Bangladesh to strengthen accountability by enhancing bottom-up mechanisms. A hugely used office, Upazila Land Office has been studied for this purpose. It summarizes a brief round of interviews of the service recipients of these offices undertaken in February 2007. This paper demonstrates the need for more in-depth analysis on some social accountability issues such as sanctions, (the ability of overseeing actors to impose punishment on the accountable actors for failure or transgressions) and compliance (possible legal incentives, promotion). The Asia stocktaking exercise found that, the government of Bangladesh has already taken the lead in setting up its own mechanism to involve the public in promoting social accountable such as the Local Government Development Fund Project of Sirajganj, Bangladesh. So, It will not be over-ambitious scheme of having introduced some suitable social accountability tools to improve the service given by a public office, such as the Upazila Land Office. Ultimately, both sides must work together. The important thing is to balance the leadership of the civil society (which includes, obviously, the ordinary people) and the state. This paper urges for the requirement of the interface between them to be focused properly.