BEIJING, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- Xinhua reporters recently dropped into the reception halls of various government agencies to get a first-hand look at staff members' "work styles."
At a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee on Dec. 4, senior officials agreed on eight requirements for rejecting formalism and bureaucratism while maintaining close ties with the people.
In an aim to improve their work styles and closely unite with the masses, ministries and local governments at various levels promptly meted out their own versions of the new arrangements.
For example, the Ministry of Education pledged to "warmly serve the people" by listening to the public's suggestions, enhancing the transparency of its work and improving the petition mechanism, and the Ministry of Civil Affairs has vowed to "practically expand the channels for connecting with the masses."
The reporters found that some departments and agencies have been more successful in improving staff members' work styles than others.
In the bustling reception hall of the Ministry of Finance, seats had been arranged for visitors and a suggestion box stood at the center of the room.
Xinhua reporters asked an on-duty staff member, "If I want to report some problems, but I don't know whom to report to, would you help?"
With a smile, the staff member agreed to help the reporters find the appropriate person to contact.
However, not everyone's work style has improved.
Walking into the reception room of the Ministry of Education at 2 p.m. on Jan. 7, a reporter overheard a conversation between a female staff member and a middle-aged man.
"Would you help me contact him/her again?" the man said anxiously.
"Nope, you do it yourself," the woman replied as she leaned back into a leather chair to play with her mobile phone.
"Excuse me, where is the Service Center for Overseas Students?" asked another man who entered the room shortly after the first man left.
"See there," the woman said, then pointed toward a billboard without leaving the chair.
The man spent some time looking for the answer in several different notices in the billboard.
On Wednesday morning, a Xinhua reporter met Kong Cuiqin in the service center of a human resources authority in western Beijing.
The reporter learned that Kong has spent over two months trying to obtain a birth approval for her grandchild that will be born soon.
Kong said she and her son-in-law have gone to the office over a dozen times to submit required documents.
When they finally met all the requirements, the staff told them the office did not have a blank certificate at that time, then asked them to wait for further notice, said Kong.
"The baby can't wait that long!" said Kong, adding that her grandchild would be unable to be issued a hukou, or household registration, without that certificate.
Later, the staff allowed Kong to obtain a blank certificate from a different district, but refused to help her get it.
A receptionist at the service hall of Xicheng's housing department was extremely patient when answering questions, but a worker at a vehicle testing center in western Beijing was not.
The reporter asked about getting a receipt for a deposit, but was told, "How could you have the receipt before finishing the validation? How could you know how much you would pay?"