Several administrative reforms approved by Cabinet yet to become reality

Manpower audit in deptts fails to get due attention of bureaucrats

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, June 18: Several administrative reforms approved by the State Cabinet to streamline the functioning of the Government at various levels have failed to become reality due to lackadaisical approach of certain bureaucrats, who otherwise were supposed to issue prompt orders to achieve the objectives behind the decisions taken at the highest forum.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that during the past quite long time discussion was going on at highest level on the steps required to be taken to further streamline the functioning of the Government at various levels in order to come up to the expectations of the people.
After hectic deliberations, some areas were identified for immediate attention and accordingly a proposal was prepared by the General Administration Department for the consideration of the State Cabinet, which is the highest decision making body in the Government.
On April 24 this year, the Cabinet approved a slew of administrative reforms and issued directions to the concerned bureaucrats to issue formal orders so as to pave the way for immediate follow-up action at all the relevant quarters. However, these reforms have yet not become reality due to the slackness on the part of concerned departments and bureaucrats despite lapse of nearly two months.
It was decided in the Cabinet that working days and working hours in the key departments for Government business will be increased and a system will be put in place for automatic abolition of posts which are not filled for three years.
These decisions could have been implemented with just one stroke of the pen by the General Administration Department by issuing circular instructions to all the concerned departments but this has not been done so far, sources informed, adding “it seems that either any detailed exercise was not conducted before placing proposal before the State Cabinet or dilly-dallying approach is creating impediment in implementing the decisions”.
The Cabinet had also issued directions for expediting manpower audit in all the departments to work out norms for optimal sanctioned strength of employees in all the offices and departments across the State. “But no seriousness has been shown towards this decision also”, sources said while disclosing that only few departments have started this exercise while as others are still in deep slumber.
This was not for the first time that Government had laid thrust on manpower audit in the departments. The announcement in this regard was initially made in the Budget speech by the then Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu in January 2017 when he had stated that existing Government structure right from bottom to the highest level reflects thinking behind these structures of several decades back.
“The Government has expanded at all levels with incremental additions in an adhoc manner without even having taken once a comprehensive review on the Government structure. Accordingly, I propose to set-up a Commission of reputed professionals to conduct manpower audit at all levels”, the Finance Minister had mentioned.
He had even gone to the extent of stating that recommendations of the Commission will be given consideration by the Government in a time bound manner for rationalization of structure and objective will not to be indiscriminately abolish posts or departments but to effectively use manpower for services of the people.
The issue was also deliberated upon in the State Cabinet, which vide Decision No.151/11/2017 dated October 3, 2017 accorded sanction not only for conduct of manpower audit but also for amendments in the relevant Recruitment Rules.
Accordingly, the General Administration Department vide Order No.1280 dated October 9, 2017 asked all the Administrative Secretaries to take immediate steps for conducting manpower/human resource audit across the departments under their administrative control and even suggest necessary changes in their relevant Recruitment Rules.
However, not even one department has submitted manpower audit report to the General Administration Department thereby sending a message that even instructions of the Cabinet don’t carry any importance for bureaucrats, sources said, adding “even there is no satisfactory compliance to the instructions regarding necessary changes in the Recruitment Rules despite the fact that in respect of majority of the departments the Recruitment Rules are obsolete and employees have been pressing for their updation”.
When contacted, an officer of the General Administration Department, while confirming inaction on several administrative reforms approved by the Cabinet, said, “a mechanism is being evolved for follow-up action and the same will be finalized shortly”.