Reducing Middle Men and Agents in State Government Offices

Many of you who have been in the circle since 2014 know how LocalCircles has been advocating introduction of systems and elimination if middlemen, agents, consultants at Citizen & Business interfacing offices across India

While some areas like direct benefits transfer, Railway Ticketing or GST have reduced middle men, in most State Government offices middlemen, agents or so called consultants continue to thrive with literally no meaningful change. With this reference, we would like to seek your super specific inputs on what should be done to eliminate middle men, agents and consultants at Government offices like Pollution Boards, RTO, Property Registration, Municipality, Electricity Board, etc.

Below are the key Issues, Root Causes and Solutions identified by your previously, related to minimizing the role of Middle Men/Agents in India.

If you have direct experiences with middle men at Govt Offices, please do share the same as well with specifics.

Minimizing the Role of Middle Men/Agents in India

Issues Identified:
1.In India middle men are involved in almost all the sectors
2.Middle men lead to an increase in the prices of goods
3.Middle men charge a commission
4.Middle men lead to corruption
5.Government officers themselves point customers towards the middle men so that they could make money without taking bribes themselves
6.Middle men are involved in hoarding
7.Middle men lead to increase in the time taken for the goods to reach the end consumer
8.Middle men increase the turn-around time of the service delivery
9.In some Government departments, you just cannot get work done until you go through a middle man
10.Middle men exploit the knowledge gap of the consumer
11.Some middle men mislead and take advantage of the situation
12.Only agents seem to have the latest forms

Root Causes Identified
1.Most people do have not proper knowledge of processes at Government Departments
2.Most corporates and citizens don't have much time to spend on long and hectic processes
3.Government Departments do not have any Key Performance Indicators (KPI/KRAs). They don't take any responsibility to improve Turn Around Times (TATs)
4.E Governance is not popular yet
5.Most of the times, the websites are not updated with the latest information
6.Availability of forms is always an issue
7.Lack of transparency in law
8.The escalation mechanism is missing
9.Illiteracy is another major issue which leads to people depending on middle men
10.No commitment for completion of jobs by Government officers
11.There is a strong nexus between Government officers and these middle men
12.A lot of middle men also have political contacts
13.Through the middle men channel, the Government officers don’t take bribe directly from citizens but get the bribe indirectly
14.Middle men manipulate the law of supply and demand to their favour
15.There is a lack of awareness among common people
16.The only motive of the middle men is to earn more and more money out of a transaction
17.Middle men know how to get things moving and what is absolutely required for things to happen fast
18.Middle men are not afraid of law as they are used to bribing and getting let off
19.No stringent measures/law against the presence of middlemen

Solutions identified:
1.Centralized systems should be set up at various locations to collect food grains & various commodities from the farmers
2.Fair price shops should be established across the country
3.The shops purchasing material in large quantity should be given a rebate on the materials purchased, similar to big super markets
4.Officials should be made accountable and punished for delay/failure in delivery of service within stipulated timelines
5.All the offices should be made user friendly and properly guided with signboard
6.The names of the officials responsible for any procedures should be publicly available and they should be held accountable for their work or lack of it
7.RTO and Passport offices should ban entry of agents in their offices
8.Information on Government procedures should be made easily available
9.Dedicated helplines should be set up to answer any query that a person might have
10.All Government procedures and permissions should have a stipulated time limit
11.Introduce a public relation desks in every Government
12.Computerise the systems and make paper work as less as possible to minimize middle man work
13.E-services must be encouraged
14.The relatively simpler works should all be automated
15.The tendering system should automated to decrease human intervention
16.The citizens should take up responsibility of not encouraging middle men, if if their work takes a little longer time
17.All the forms should be made available on the internet
18.Contract for updating the Government websites should be outsourced. more  

View all 248 comments Below 248 comments
Contractors, Agents, Middlemen IF CARED, MIGRANTS could have been SAVED WELL . more  
1. All middlemen be registered as service providers with some fee to be charged for assisting the clients. more  
Registration and Licensing Middlemen, Agents is a must under a Comprehensive Regulation. They are to be made Responsible for Reasonable Pricing since many are engaged in Contracting on behalf of Wealty Businessmen .
STCs and Market Yards are also to be made Responsible . more  
We need not discard all middle men as useless and corrupt. In many of the areas they are making useful contribution and earning their livelihood. It is a common scene that if someone don't find any employment then he becomes property dealer, share mkt./ Tour agent and so on without any heavy investment. There is a need to develop system and procedures for controlling corrupt practices. more  
All Govt offices be computerised and monitored so that no one bypasses the system. more  
Great idea, but you need to realize that the bribe takers are typically people appointed by the elected rulers to milk the public and the industry for personal and party funds. Why would they kill the goose that lays golden eggs? Most cases are mere eyewash or accidental exposure due to silly mistakes by the bribe takers or sheer greed with stupidity that exposes them. However, the trail is never investigated to find the main gang leaders but simply suppressed after a brief amount of publicity and free TRP to the media.
As ordinary harassed citizens, its better to try and avoid these people using the electronic methods now available and for those not able to do this, help them out. Therefore, local public help organizations would be the best bet to help root out corruption by helping uneducated or computer illiterate public by providing free services to register issues and fill out applications on government sites so that the personal contact is reduced.
The income tax faceless tax system is a good example and a good start. more  
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