Nagaon district in central Assam is the proud owner of an ISO certificate, often dubbed as the gold standard in administration.
ISO 9001:2008, which has been conferred on the office of the deputy commissioner Nagaon, will help the district administration handle public grievances, establishment management and public facilitation services better, Nagaon deputy commissioner M. Angamuthu told The Telegraph today. ISO 9001 is the most used and well-known standard for quality management systems in the world.
Nagaon is the second district in Assam to be conferred an ISO certificate, the first being Karbi Anglong, which received ISO 9000:2001 in 2008. Karbi Anglong, too, had Angamuthu as its deputy commissioner when the district received the certificate. Till Nagaon got the certificate, the country had 10 ISO-certified deputy commissioner offices.
The Nagaon deputy commissioner said he had started working on the criteria required to get the ISO certificate a year ago and the review team came in June this year. The certificate was issued by Det Norske Veritas of the Netherlands on July 26 and will be valid till July 2014.
“The Nagaon district administration deals with an average footfall of 1,000 visitors, several socio-cultural-political organisations and an array of development and associate partners everyday. One feels one is entering a maze with rooms, officials, staff and people. Besides, there is an archaic office-centric formality in the form of delay, red tapism and other issues,” he said.
ISO 9001:2008 will give the administration a wide and excellent scope to improve all the areas of administration, including revenue, development and public facilitation services. “It gives scope for innovations and upgrade of existing services. The most important feature in this experiment is a scientific approach in delivering citizen-centric activities and solutions,” he added.
“We have started fixing time limits and responsibilities for getting work done and transparency has improved,” Angamuthu said.
Nagaon was carved out as a separate administrative unit in 1832. But it was only in 1839 that the British settled on the present site on the bank of the Kollong to set up the district headquarters of Nagaon, which gradually emerged as a town. It became a municipality in 1893. The 3,993 square km district is one of the largest in Assam. It has three subdivisions, 10 revenue circles, 1,396 revenue villages, 18 development blocks and four municipal boards.
Angamuthu said working under the ISO, gives officials and staff “an edge over their counterparts in understanding processes, files, rules, acts and bylaws. Even in the absence of a particular official or staff, things can be handled and well attended to. This helps to save time and create a harassment-free environment for the public”. The ISO also gives a standard level-playing field for human resources and personnel management. “It also gives options for utilising scarce resources, especially finance, as the system itself gets internal audit done and sets a benchmark for day-to-day activities,” he added.