RCSC faces the prob­lem of keep­ing the civil ser­vice apo­lit­i­cal

Bhutan Times - - Front Page - Biku Gu­rung

One of the chal­lenges faced by the Royal Civil Com­mis­sion (RCSC) is to keep the civil ser­vice apo­lit­i­cal. This was re­vealed in the 1st An­nual Re­port of the Sec­ond Com­mis­sion cov­er­ing a pe­riod of four­teen months from April 2014 to June 2015 re­leased last Fri­day. As man­dated by the pro­vi­sions of the Ar­ti­cle 25 Sec­tion 9 of the Con­sti­tu­tion of the king­dom of Bhutan and Sec­tion 19 of the Civil Ser­vice Act of Bhutan 2010, the Royal Civil Ser­vice Com­mis­sion shall sub­mit an An­nual Re­port on its poli­cies and per­for­mance to the Druk Gyalpo and to the Prime Min­is­ter.

Civil ser­vants are con­sid­ered the back­bone of good gov­er­nance and play the most crit­i­cal role in the na­tion build­ing pro­cesses. In ad­di­tion, at the heart of good gov­er­nance is the role and char­ac­ter of civil ser­vice. Good gov­er­nance, good sys­tems and high stan­dards of pro­fes­sion­al­ism in the ser­vice are fun­da­men­tal to our na­tion’s jour­ney to trans­form from a young democ­racy into a vi­brant and ma­ture democ­racy. This re­quires a Civil Ser­vice cul­ture where peo­ple dis­charge their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties pro­fes­sion­ally, im­par­tially, and apo­lit­i­cally and serve the Gov­ern­ment of the day with­out fear, favour or prej­u­dice.

The RCSC as the cen­tral per­son­nel agency of the Gov­ern­ment has the re­spon­si­bil­ity of cre­at­ing an apo­lit­i­cal Civil Ser­vice but thus far, no mech­a­nisms have been put in place to ac­tu­ally en­sure that the Civil Ser­vice re­mains so. Con­se­quently, it has be­come im­por­tant to pro­vide civil ser­vants the aware­ness and abil­ity to nav­i­gate the new sit­u­a­tion where one has to work closely with elected lead­ers. It has also be­come im­por­tant to pro­vide civil ser­vants the pro­tec­tion re­quired to en­able them to per­form their du­ties with­out fear or favour. There­fore, the RCSC will be com­ing out with pro­to­cols for in­ter­ac­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion with elected lead­ers to be put in place as ev­i­dence of their im­par­tial, apo­lit­i­cal, pro­fes­sional ad­vice and which can be used to pro­vide ob­jec­tive ba­sis for RCSC in­ter­ven­tion in times of con­flict be­tween civil ser­vants and politi­cians. Ex­plicit poli­cies on record keep­ing and doc­u­men­ta­tion – hard copies and emails- in re­la­tion to in­ter­ac­tion with min­is­te­rial of­fices will be put in

place. Pro­to­cols are also re­quired to en­sure that writ­ten notes ac­com­pany oral briefs and that records of dis­cus­sions in all min­is­te­rial in­ter­ac­tions are main­tained. The RCSC will also use the up­com­ing Ex­ec­u­tive Fo­rums to dis­cuss these is­sues so that the ex­ec­u­tives, who in­ter­act most with min­is­ters and politi­cians, have clar­ity on how they should en­gage. At the same time, hav­ing such ex­plicit pro­to­cols and poli­cies will also have the ef­fect of cre­at­ing such aware­ness among the min­is­ters and politi­cians, and equally im­por­tant, their ex­pec­ta­tions from civil ser­vants.

Fur­ther the RCSC also faces the chal­lenge of main­tain the civil ser­vice small, com­pact and ef­fi­cient. Mak­ing the civil ser­vice and ef­fi­cient has been a daunt­ing task as civil ser­vice is the sin­gle big­gest em­ployer of work force in the coun­try. The civil ser­vice to pop­u­la­tion ra­tion is 1:28 which is quite large as com­pared to other coun­tries.

With con­sti­tu­tional obli­ga­tions of the gov­ern­ment tom pro­vide free ed­u­ca­tion and pri­mary health care as well as ba­sic in­fra­struc­ture in a rugged moun­tain­ous ter­rain with scat­tered pop­u­la­tion, the op­ti­miza­tion of hu­man re­sources will re­main a con­stant chal­lenges. This is fur­ther com­pli­cated by sys­tems where there is lit­tle ac­count­abil­ity for ex­cess re­cruit­ment or idle peo­ple. At the same time, a num­ber of acts cover in­sti­tu­tional ar­range­ments, which may not al­ways be op­ti­mal. All this show that main­tain­ing a small com­pact and ef­fi­cient Civil Ser­vice will re­main a con­stant chal­lenge as the man­date rests with the RCSC but de­ci­sions lead­ing to Civil Ser­vice growth are not with the RCSC alone. There­fore, it will be im­por­tant for the RCSC to work closely with all the im­por­tant in­sti­tu­tions. The RCSC has raised these is­sues in a num­ber of meet­ings and go­ing for­ward, pro­poses to do so pe­ri­od­i­cally.

The other chal­lenge faced by the Civil Ser­vice is cor­rup­tion where 38 civil ser­vants have been in­ves­ti­gated by the Anti Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion ( ACC) of which 34 were sus­pended. Another 3 cases were sent to the RCSC for ad­min­is­tra­tive ac­tion and one, con- victed for mis­de­meanor, was sent on com­pul­sory re­tire­ment. Many of these cases were com­pre­hen­sively cov­ered by the media, in­clud­ing so­cial media. Notwith­stand­ing the fi­nal out­comes of the cases un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion, there is lit­tle doubt that public per­cep­tion of the in­tegrity and hon­esty of the Civil Ser­vice suf­fer as a re­sult. As the back­bone of good gov­er­nance, such neg­a­tive per­cep­tion is of se­ri­ous con­cern for the Com­mis­sion and ef­fort must be made to re­duce such oc­cur­rences as this can lead to ero­sion of public trust.

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