Objectives and Scope

Through a collaborative approach that will leverage both Janaagraha's and local expertise in governance reforms (what we refer to in Janaagraha as "City-Systems") and leverage the expertise of city-level partners in city-specific reform agendas and relationships, the proposed 'City-Systems Reform Network' will focus on the 23 largest Indian cities* covered in Janaagraha's Annual Survey of India's City-Systems survey to engage political and administrative decision makers at the city/state level, and advocate and implement reform agendas to improve urban governance and through that quality of life.

Network Objectives and Scope

The proposed network shall use the findings and related data from the ASICS survey to:

  • Engage key decision-makers in order to enact or amend laws and policies
  • Implement new and improved institutional mechanisms or processes and
  • Establish accountability frameworks in municipalities, civic agencies and state government departments dealing with cities.

The deliverables for the Network would be as under:

  • Detailed State / City level diagnostic evaluation of urban governance based on the City-Systems framework with an actionable reforms roadmap
  • State level engagements through workshops, roundtables and conclaves to engage elected representatives (councilors, MLAs), city officials, Urban department officials of states, and other key stakeholders including business heads, citizen groups, CSOs, etc.
  • Implementation of city-system reforms in areas as covered in Section II above in the areas of Urban Planning, Urban Capacities, Empowered and Legitimate Political Representation and Transparency, Accountability and Participation
  • Reform the way cities manage their finances (how they account, sustainably raise revenues, create accurate budgets and financial documents and invest adequately in capital expenditure and operations/maintenance costs to drive better outcomes for citizens. Some examples of such/similar reforms are given below:
    • Working with state governments to empanel Chartered Accountants to audit annual accounts of municipalities and help cities have more information on their finances
    • Include establishing performance MIS frameworks at the State level to review financial and operational performance of municipalities
    • Aiding States and Cities to improve performance of municipalities especially in respect of revenue collections and financial management, through process improvements, automation, staff reallocations and outsourcing
    • Put in place a process/framework for objective measurement of quality of life metrics, public disclosure of city budgets and civic data and data-driven decision making in respect of budgeting
    • Advocate for and have states enact laws and rules that facilitate participatory budgeting and other participatory processes for citizen participation
  • Advocate for and have states enact laws that mandate empowering local governments (this may be through increased powers over raising revenues, increased devolution of 12th schedule functions such as urban planning, and increased powers over human resource management in line with the spirit of the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act)
  • Institute reforms to ensure adequate citizen participation in local government decision making and action: Advocate for decentralization in local governance through formal institutional platforms for citizen participation such as Ward Committees and Area Sabhas
  • Implement online complaint management systems in municipalities and other civic agencies, and other online web and mobile apps for citizen grievance redress and participation

The Network for City-Systems Reforms is being envisaged as an equal partnership between Janaagraha and city/state level organisations. As part of this partnership, Janaagraha will share all its knowledge, models and products free of cost to partners and undertake capacity building sessions, and partners will utilize the same, leverage their expertise and experience in their particular cities/state of operations, engage with city and state level political and administrative leaders and civil society to drive reforms to city governance. High-level roles and responsibilities envisaged are given below. The relationship between Janaagraha and the network partner will be formalized through a formal Memorandum of Understanding. Network partners will also be provided partial grant support, of an amount decided by Janaagraha, for the duration of the MoU if necessary. However, for the NCSR to achieve its stated long-term objectives, all network partners, including Janaagraha, will need to actively work together to fund-raise and seek long-term philanthropic support.

A broad list of roles and responsibilities that Janaagraha and the network partner will fulfill are listed below.

Janaagraha

  • Prepare State / City level ASICS or an ASICS deep-dive report (a diagnostic evaluation of urban governance in collaboration with the Network Partner with an actionable reform roadmap)
  • Act as a centralized knowledge support partner (on governance data and insights, templates for governance evaluation, sharing knowledge on City-Systems reforms – municipal finance, staffing, transparency, citizen participation etc.). Support the network partner in dissemination of data and insights by providing required information and knowledge collaterals
  • Provide City-Systems reforms training and implementation support to help network partners lead government and media engagement as well as implement City-Systems reforms
  • Support network partners in raising long-term funds/philanthropic support to make NCSR a self-sustaining and long-lasting initiative
  • In addition to these, Janaagraha will be happy to support network partners in engagement with city / state government for signing up to city-system reforms, provide technical support to governments along with partners in implementation of City-System reforms and to jointly review implementation progress

Network Partner

  • Provide data and support in preparation of State / City level ASICS or an ASICS deep-dive report
  • Disseminate data and insights to key decision makers at the state / city level
  • Create engagement platforms and engaging with key decision makers to advocate for reforms (events, round-tables and conferences)
  • Lead implementation of city-system reforms in partner states / cities with support from Janaagraha
  • Recruit and train appropriate staff to lead activities of the network to meet defined objectives
  • In the medium term, fund-raise and seek long-term philanthropic support to help scale NCSR 's activities and make it a sustainable and long-lasting initiative.