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Published on: Sept. 12, 2020, 10:31 a.m.
Government moves to reform bureaucracy
  • Javadekar: the biggest HRD reform

By Rakesh Joshi. Executive Editor, Business India

The Centre claims to have finally bitten the bullet. In yet another attempt to reform the bloated 46-lakh strong Central bureaucracy, the government has announced two significant steps to strengthen the administrative machinery, remove deadwood and maintaining a high level of efficiency in the bureaucracy.

Last fortnight, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) made it clear that it can, in public interest, prematurely retire its employees at any time even after they have attained the age of 50/55 years or completed 30 years of qualifying service, and not limit their ‘performance review’ to these two set milestones laid down in the pension rules. 

Moreover, even government employees who were cleared to be retained in service as per FR 56(j) and Rules 48 of CCS (Pension) Rules, 1972, may face further review at any time during their remaining service if the appointing authority feels it is expedient on account of the changed circumstances. All departments and ministries have been asked to maintain a register of officers attaining 50/55 years of age or completing 30 years of service who may be asked to take early retirement on grounds of ‘doubtful integrity’ and ‘ineffectiveness’. 

The notification states that the register is to be scrutinised at the beginning of every quarter by a senior officer in the ministry/department/cadre and who will undertake a review of the same to decide on pre-mature retirement or retention of an officer.

Side by side, the government has launched Operation Karmayogi – a skill building programme for its civil servants. The scheme will be accessible for all, from section officers to secretaries. “This is the biggest Human Resources Development reform in the government,” says union minister Prakash Javadekar.

“This scheme is based on the government’s vision on how a civil servant should be. A civil servant of today, in order to meet the challenges of the world, will have to be imaginative and innovative, proactive and polite, professional and progressive, energetic and enabling, transparent and tech-enabled, and constructive and creative,” said C. Chandramouli, secretary, DoPT. 

The programme will support a transition from “rules-based to roles-based” HR management, so that work allocations can be done by matching an official’s competencies to the requirements of the post. Apart from domain knowledge training, the scheme will focus on “functional and behavioural competencies” as well, and also includes a monitoring framework for performance evaluations. Eventually, service matters such as confirmation after probation period, deployment, work assignments and notification of vacancies will all be integrated into the proposed framework.

The capacity building programme will be delivered through an Integrated Government Online Training or iGOTKarmayogi digital platform, with content drawn from global best practices rooted in Indian national ethos. Mission Karmayogi is aimed at “building a future-ready civil service with the right attitude, skills and knowledge, aligned to the vision of New India,” adds Chandramouli. 

According to him, the Prime Minister’s Public Human Resource Council will be set up as the apex body to direct the reforms, with an autonomous Capacity Building Commission to be established to manage the reformed system and harmonise training standards across the country, so that there is a common understanding of India’s aspirations and development goals. A wholly government owned, not-for-profit special purpose vehicle will be set up to own and operate the digital platform and its content. 

New norms

Regarding the earlier notification, government sources said the new DoPT rules seek to remove any ambiguity in interpretation of orders issued earlier. The orders issued earlier were regarding Fundamental Rule 56(j)/l and Rule 48 of the CCS (Pension) Rules, 1972, which provide for review of performance of a government servant after attaining 50/55 years of age or on completion of 30 years of qualifying service, with a view to ascertain if he/she should be retained in service or retired in public interest. For instance, if a review can’t be undertaken due to administrative exigencies, the new norms state such review can be undertaken at any time during his remaining service.

According to senior officials, the order eliminates any ambiguity in interpretation of instructions on whether the government servant is immune to a performance review and premature retirement after he was found fit to continue based on review at 50/55 years or after finishing 30 years of service.

The performance review will be done in January to March, for July to September of the same year. Similarly in April to June, the review will be done for October to December of the same year. July to September, will be reviewed from January to March of the next year and October to December quarter performances, will be done from April to June of the next year.

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