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April 4th, 2016
Technology • Justice

The citizen feedback monitoring programme (CFMP) in Punjab province

The CFMP had its beginnings in Punjab’s Jhang district. The administrative head, Zubair Bhatti, decided to investigate civil service corruption by ringing citizens who had just used Jhang’s public services to get their feedback about the interaction. This very direct form of engagement developed into the CFMP, a dialogue between senior administrators and citizens, whose success meant it was rolled out across the whole of Punjab province.

The initiative

It was necessary to collect evidence about civil servants' interactions with the public. “Bhatti wondered whether there was a way that new technologies could be applied to help monitor the day-to-day conduct of government service workers. He decided to experiment by ordering officials of the property registration office to collect the cell phone numbers of citizens who used the service ...  and then send a daily list to his office. Bhatti called random numbers from the list and asked the people who answered about their experiences during their visits to the registry.” [2]

This experiment of randomly calling people for feedback became the basis of theCFMP, which was then applied in all the districts of Punjab through the offices of the Punjabi government. It is using the programme to bridge the trust deficit between the state and the citizens, in particular by:

  • Curbing corruption.
  • Monitoring public service delivery.
  • Enhancing citizen engagement.

The challenge

Throughout Pakistan, there has been a problem with corruption in the civil service. “In early 2008, Zubair Bhatti, administrative head of the Jhang district in Pakistan's Punjab province, recognised the need to reduce petty corruption in the local civil service.” [1]

In the Jhang district, officers in the government administration handled services such as property registrations and driving licences, as well as health, education, and income assistance programmes. There was a well-founded suspicion that officers were accepting bribes to carry out these administrative tasks, either to speed the process up or to provide something to which an individual was not entitled.

The public impact

The CFMP has had a major public impact in Punjab. “The CFMP outreach currently stands as:

  • “11.18 million transactions have been recorded in the CFMP database.
  • “8.6 million citizens have been contacted.
  • “1.12 million citizens have responded.
  • “178,160 citizens have reported corruption [or made] complaints.
  • “11,200 actions have been taken by various government departments on the basis of negative feedback received via CFMP.” [3]

Stakeholder engagement

The main stakeholders for the project were:

  • The district officer of Jhang, Zubair Bhatti, who initiated the experiment and was then involved in its roll-out across the province.
  • The Government of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif, the chief minister, who viewed the project as a priority initiative and made it clear that he wanted the project scaled up quickly to reach thousands of citizens every day. [4]
  • The Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB), an autonomous body set up by the province's government, provided web-based entry of citizen cell phone numbers in district offices and developed a web-based form to capture citizen feedback.
  • Punjabi citizens, who provided the feedback.
  • The media, whose coverage of the incident helped spread word about CFMP and “explain to the public how the system worked. As the pilot program gained traction, the volume of calls increased, and four more districts joined.” [5]

Political commitment

The project had strong political backing right from the beginning. “The chief minister agreed to scale up the CFMP in Punjab with Bhatti's assistance. In March 2010, the provincial government asked The Asia Foundation [Bhatti's new employer] to give Bhatti two months' leave to help with the project.” [6] Sharif saw CFMP as a “step towards addressing the petty corruption that infected service provision in Punjab … as well as the rest of the country.” [7]

However, the CFMP did run out of steam in 2013.  “The Pakistan Muslim League, which governed Punjab, won national elections in May 2013 and set an ambitious countrywide agenda. As a result, the provincial government had new priorities that sidelined the [CFMP].” [8]

Public confidence

When Bhatti started the initiative, citizens responded willingly with feedback and the experiment increased the public's confidence in the system. “Bhatti believed that making personal calls to citizens sent a powerful message that he and other high-level officials were honest, trustworthy, and seeking to help … He realised he could build credibility for the government by reaching out to citizens rather than waiting for disgruntled citizens to come to him. Bhatti could sense the excitement in citizens’ voices when he called. It reassured him.” [9]

Clarity of objectives

The objectives of the initiative were clear and specific. The government wanted to curb corruption by better monitoring the public service delivery and by building citizen trust in the administration. However, these objectives were not quantifiable. The outcome was measurable in terms of the amount of citizen feedback registering complaints of corruption and other elements in the CFMP database.

Strength of evidence

The first districts, including Jhang district, piloted the initiative. “Developing the citizen feedback model was a process of trial and error. The six pilot districts started to collect the cell phone numbers of citizens who used selected district services.” [10]

The CFMP project was successful in securing a grant from the World Bank. “Each year, the World Bank hosted a competition for support from its innovation fund. In partnership with the Punjab provincial administration, Bhatti developed a proposal entitled Proactive Governance: The Punjab Model. The innovation fund, which supported pilot projects that increased transparency and access to information, accepted the proposal and granted the project US$100,000 for technical assistance.” [11]


Since the Punjab government was funding this initiative, the project was financially sound. Also, the project received a US$100,000 grant from the World Bank which was used to solve problems of technical feasibility.

There was a problem in finding someone to manage the process. “Few district level officials in Pakistan remained in their positions for more than a year, and the constant rotation within the civil service raised hurdles to long-term planning and implementation. This created issues with human resources feasibility.” [12]


There were skilled officials involved in the project. Bhatti, who started the initiative in the district of Jhang, was a pragmatic person who knew the shortcomings of the official complaint system and took a proactive approach to reach out to the visitors of the registry. Once CFMP was implemented, it was handled by a very competent operational manager.


The outcomes of the project were measurable: The indicators included:

  • The number of people showing their satisfaction level in public service delivery
  • The number of corruption cases filed after the implementation of the project
  • The number of actions taken by the government to act on the complaints

In April 2014, the World Bank commissioned an evaluation to measure the performance and impact of the CFMP. The phone-based survey covered more than 20,000 citizens who had used CFMP services since 2011. Preliminary results showed that although only 30 percent of those surveyed said CFMP had reduced corruption, 76 percent of the respondents said they still believed it would help reduce the problem in the future.


The principal actors at the beginning were well aligned: Bhatti, the district administrator, and Sharif, the provincial governor, cooperated to pilot the service and roll it out at a provincial level. There was also assistance from the World Bank and from the media, including The Economist, who publicised the CFMP.

However, there was some problems with alignment. There was sometimes misuse of the service to file false claims against an official to “damage the reputations of rivals”. [13] The efforts made by “the chief minister's office for implementation meant some district coordination officers saw the program as a tool for monitoring their performance rather than an instrument for improving public service delivery”. [14]

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