Why this should not be an Iso­lated case

Ma­ha­rash­tra fi­nance min­is­ter’s of­fice is the coun­try’s first in get­ting ISO cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, im­prov­ing file move­ment and bring­ing in trans­parency

Governance Now - - GOOD GOVERNANCE - Gee­tan­jali Min­has

Sit­ting in his of­fice on the fifth floor of the Mantralaya build­ing in mum­bai, sud­hir mungan­ti­war is all smiles. The min­is­ter of fi­nance and plan­ning, ma­ha­rash­tra, has achieved some­thing which other min­is­ters don’t even aim for. His of­fice is the first ad­min­is­tra­tive unit in the coun­try to have an iso cer­ti­fi­ca­tion – 9001:2015.

The cer­tifi­cate, which is ef­fec­tive from may 8, 2017 to may 7, 2020, has been awarded to the de­part­ment af­ter as­sess­ing it on pa­ram­e­ters of time taken in mak­ing and im­ple­ment­ing pol­icy de­ci­sions and mon­i­tor­ing and ad­min­is­tra­tive con­trol of such de­ci­sions.

mungan­ti­war also holds the for­est port­fo­lio. The cer­ti­fi­ca­tion also takes into ac­count the time taken to dis­pose of a cit­i­zen’s griev­ance. The min­is­ter’s of­fice en­sures that no file lies pend­ing at the desk of any of­fi­cial for more than a week. care is taken that every cor­re­spon­dence or let­ter is prop­erly marked for its ‘in­ward’ and ‘out­ward’ num­ber and is tracked at every stage till the fi­nal de­ci­sion is taken on it.

The cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pa­ram­e­ters also in­clude mungan­ti­war han­dling the ad­di­tional charge as guardian min­is­ter for chan­dra­pur and Wardha districts and as act­ing chair­man and mem­ber of var­i­ous cab­i­net and sub-com­mit­tees.

The jour­ney

it all started in July 2016 when mungan­ti­war roped in con­sul­tants from nashik to bring core pro­cesses like his daily and out­sta­tion tours, files, meet­ings, vis­i­tors (VIP and gen­eral) and let­ters (hand de­liv­ery and post) un­der the stan­dard op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dures (sops). A con­trol mech­a­nism was cre­ated and rou­tine mat­ters of all de­part­ments were put on record. Train­ers were also called from Pune and mum­bai to train the staff and of­fi­cers of the de­part­ment and ini­ti­ate them into sops. ev­ery­one, from the peon to mungan­ti­war’s per­sonal sec­re­tary, un­der­went train­ing for six months.

mungan­ti­war’s meet­ings and tour itin­er­ar­ies, which were for­mally not recorded, were brought un­der sops. “When a re­quest to hold a meet­ing comes up from an­other de­part­ment, of­fice, or­gan­i­sa­tion or an in­di­vid­ual, the min­is­ter takes a call. if he de­cides to hold the meet­ing then a list is pre­pared of all those who will at­tend the meet­ing along with the agenda. A note is pre­pared on the is­sues to be dis­cussed, its out­comes and avail­able op­tions, fi­nal­is­ing the draft pro­ceed­ings, record­ing min­utes of meet­ing and send­ing it to those con­cerned with the min­is­ter’s ap­proval,” says ma­hesh she­wale, osd, ad­min­is­tra­tion, de­part­ment of fi­nance and plan­ning, forests.

A sim­i­lar ex­er­cise is car­ried out with other of­fice work. A chart out­lin­ing func­tions of every of­fi­cer is pasted out­side their re­spec­tive cab­ins. This helps a vis­i­tor in ap­proach­ing the right per­son in case he/she wants an ap­point­ment with the min­is­ter, if the min­is­ter’s let­ter of rec­om­men­da­tion is re­quired, if they want to know about

the sta­tus of their let­ter or re­quire in­for­ma­tion on trans­fer or on sup­ple­men­tary funds of the bud­get. Job charts avoid un­nec­es­sary dis­tur­bance for the of­fi­cers and waste of time for the vis­i­tor and pro­vides con­ve­nience to both.

“We are now work­ing on stan­dard­ised lines and this makes gov­ern­ment of­fi­cers ac­count­able. So far, gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees have been used to work­ing on their whims and fan­cies. The per­son sit­ting on chair will now per­form as per the stan­dard pro­ce­dure. For ex­am­ple, if some­one comes for some ap­proval or re­quires a cer­tain num­ber of cer­tifi­cates, the of­fi­cial will have to fol­low the check­list as per stan­dard pro­ce­dure and give their sig­na­ture. if sops are fol­lowed there will be no con­tro­versy and work­flow will be smooth,” ex­plains she­wale.

mungan­ti­war was al­ready hold­ing reg­u­lar dis­cus­sions with se­nior for­est of­fi­cials to ex­change ideas and re­ceive their feed­back. For achiev­ing the pres­ti­gious cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, he gave his field of­fi­cers 99 ac­tion points or a pri­or­ity list to fol­low. He later added an­other 33 points to it. Among other things, these ac­tion points in­clude steps to en­sure wildlife con­ser­va­tion and pro­tec­tion, in­creas­ing for­est cover in the state, con­trol­ling en­croach­ment on for­est lands, set­ting up of a helpline for for­est-re­lated is­sues and or­gan­is­ing quar­terly con­fer­ence of for­est of­fi­cers to draft poli­cies on im­por­tant for­est is­sues.

“The na­ture of work car­ried out in a tehsil or at a col­lec­tor’s of­fice is spe­cific. This is not the case in a min­is­ter’s of­fice where any per­son can come. If it is de­part­ment-re­lated work, then we guide them to the con­cerned per­son. if it is a re­quest let­ter we take the re­marks from the con­cerned of­fi­cer. Of­fi­cers have to fin­ish the given work oth­er­wise give rea­sons. even when the work is not within the purview of the de­part­ment we guide the per­son ac­cord­ingly. That is the in­struc­tion of the min­is­ter to us,” says she­wale.

Train­ing in it was also given to the of­fi­cers to equip them bet­ter with the tech­nol­ogy, it-re­lated ser­vices, their us­age and reper­cus­sions. “While we all use it, no one knows its le­gal im­pli­ca­tions, like what are the ef­fects and af­ter­ef­fects of send­ing/for­ward­ing wrong What­sapp mes­sages. Very soon of­fi­cials from the cy­ber cell will come to train us,” says she­wale.

more­over, train­ing is an on­go­ing and con­tin­u­ous process at mungan­ti­war’s of­fice. Of­fi­cials are re­ceiv­ing train­ing even on the re­cent pol­icy de­ci­sions like gst. mungan­ti­war, a gst coun­cil mem­ber, held a meet­ing with of­fi­cers and peo­ple’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives at the di­vi­sion level to ac­cli­ma­tise them on the pol­icy and ad­dress their con­cerns for its smooth im­ple­men­ta­tion. “He takes up the con­cerns of traders, agri­cul­tur­ists, tex­tile own­ers, film pro­duc­ers and oth­ers who want a lower slab with the gst coun­cil. if not work­able, he con­veys the same with rea­sons to their rep­re­sen­ta­tives,” says Amol Kanse, OSD, bud­get and fi­nance, de­part­ment of fi­nance and plan­ning, forests.

Of­fi­cers and other staff at the de­part­ment have been trained enough to help and guide vis­i­tors. “every vis­i­tor ex­pects to get some in­for­ma­tion on gst. i am not from the sales tax de­part­ment and may not know tech­ni­cal de­tails, but i must have gen­eral in­for­ma­tion to re­spond. even on the re­cent is­sue of the farm loan waiver, which is in the do­main of co­op­er­a­tive de­part­ment, peo­ple were com­ing to the fi­nance min­is­ter with queries [rais­ing fi­nance for the farm loan waiver is done by the fi­nance de­part­ment]. so we re­quested ex­perts from joint and ad­di­tional gst com­mis­sion­ers’ of­fice and the co­op­er­a­tive de­part­ment to train us. For de­tailed en­quiries we di­rect them to the con­cerned of­fices. As is­sues come up and evolve, we need to be up­dated,” says she­wale.

As the state’s fi­nance min­is­ter, Mungan­ti­war is par­tic­u­lar that the bud­get com­mit­ments by dif­fer­ent de­part­ments are ad­hered to. To en­sure this he takes pe­ri­odic re­view meet­ings with de­part­men­tal of­fi­cers, sec­re­taries and with the chief min­is­ter at the cab­i­net level. “Ear­lier, at every step files for fund re­lease would come to the fi­nance

min­is­ter’s of­fice and get de­layed. Now, to speed up, 80 per­cent funds are re­leased in April it­self. There­after, funds util­i­sa­tion is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the con­cerned de­part­ment. The bal­ance is re­leased in de­cem­ber or Jan­uary. These mea­sures make Mungan­ti­war the first fi­nance min­is­ter to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for bud­get com­mit­ments,” says Kanse.

mungan­ti­war also en­sures vis­i­tors com­ing to his of­fice don’t go back dis­ap­pointed. He in­ter­acts with them every Tuesday and en­sures an au­di­ence even with those who come with­out an ap­point­ment. The min­is­ter has also taken for­ward the Pm’s gov­ern­ment res­o­lu­tion (gr) on wear­ing khadi, which has been adopted by chief min­is­ter de­ven­dra Fad­navis too. every Tuesday is a khadi day at his de­part­ment.

Mungan­ti­war is the first min­is­ter in the state to seek feed­back and sug­ges­tions from all de­part­men­tal sec­re­taries to en­sure smooth de­liv­ery of ser­vices. He takes reg­u­lar feed­back on staff be­hav­iour, time taken for file dis­pos­als, fol­low-ups, gen­eral co­or­di­na­tion and plan­ning of meet­ings. “This puts moral pres­sure on staff to per­form and makes them ac­count­able. He gives a 20-point rat­ing for this pur­pose. We have pre­pared a mis­sion state­ment for all of us to fol­low. The state­ment is a pledge to ad­dress max­i­mum cit­i­zen griev­ances by im­prov­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion,” says she­wale.

More­over, it is manda­tory for the staff to wear identity cards. on av­er­age it saves 10 min­utes of time for vis­i­tors com­ing to the of­fice as they know which of­fi­cer to ap­proach. This also weeds out cor­rup­tion. “of­ten vis­i­tors who come to the de­part­ment for the first time or those who come from far-off places do not know which of­fi­cer to ap­proach for their prob­lem. of­ten they are mis­led and mis­guided at the hands of out­siders who look at mak­ing a quick buck. While em­ploy­ees of other de­part­ments also hold i-cards but they don’t wear them,” says she­wale.

Some se­nior of­fi­cers from other state de­part­ments are keen to adopt the fi­nance de­part­ment’s model. “Though many gov­ern­ment of­fices, some schools, zilla parishads and pan­chayat sami­tis have re­ceived ISO cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, the fi­nance de­part­ment is the first ever min­is­ter’s of­fice in coun­try to re­ceive ISO cer­ti­fi­ca­tion,” says Kanse. Im­pressed with ef­fi­ciency in ad­min­is­tra­tion and pol­icy im­ple­men­ta­tion, cm de­ven­dra Fad­navis has asked mungan­ti­war to guide five de­sirous de­part­men­tal of­fices get the pres­ti­gious ISO cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

Job charts dis­played out­side of­fi­cials’ cab­ins en­sure that vis­i­tors don’t waste their time or are not mis­guided; Inset: The ISO cer­tifi­cate to the of­fice of the min­is­ter

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