In July 2003, Laixi City began adopting a system called Service Agents for the People. In 2005, services available were expanded and in 2007, Laixi established service agencies at three levels—municipal, township and village—that are dedicated to providing a full-range of services free of charge.
The service delivery system offers immediate acceptance of applications and timely feedback to those requiring assistance. It has proven to be a popular model and enjoys wide support from its users because it provides solutions to practical needs and ensures equitable, transparent, and efficient service.
Since the initial launch, service agents have handled over 200,000 cases. These cases have involved almost all aspects of people's lives and work, including administrative examination and approval, social security, employment of rural labor, technological training, and requests for information.
Leading media, such as People's Daily, Xinhua News Agency and China Central Television have given a great deal of publicity to the system and delegations from other governments have made investigative trips to Laixi to visit the program.
With China's rapid economic development and social progress, its people are asking for and expecting more from government. Laixi's innovation has proven to be a proactive transformation that is responsive to these demands in a way that reduces power conflicts and improves administrative efficiency. The system ensures that personnel and funds are properly allocated and that regulations and procedures facilitate service delivery and efficient operation. In addition, the system reflects the concept of public service and is the kind of institutional arrangement that supports democratic development. In other words, the system of Service Agents for the People puts ordinary people at the center of government service delivery by ensuring civil servants offer both timely service and convenience.
In spite of the project's great success, there are two questions that still need to be explored to ensure continuous improvement. First, how can the relationship among different government departments in the administrative service halls at city and township levels be improved? And second, how can the efficiency of civil servants serving the people be improved?