Chanakya IAS Academy Blog

Introduction: On Independence Day, we heard the PM saying that his government’s motto is to reform, perform and transform. “India’s economy has grown rapidly in recent years, but the country’s bureaucratic quality is widely perceived to be either stagnant or in decline.” It is time to relook at overhauling the bureaucracy, if Modi’s idea of India is to be realised. We need speed, efficiency and effectiveness in our entire chain of command. implementing some of the PM’s key announcements and the commitment on budget announcements and schemes. What needs to be done to make bureaucrats performance-oriented professionals.

The reasons for our bureaucracy’s failures are:

  • Unlike the politician, who has to go to the electorate every five years seeking ‘votes’ as his ‘appraisal’ for the performance, bureaucrats come with a ‘seniority based promotion’ and a defined retirement age and hence, they are least bothered for their performance reviews and also that these ACRs (annual confidential reports) for performance reviews can be ‘managed’.
  • Since bureaucrats make the ACRs of these bureaucrats. Even the most corrupt and inefficient had the best of ACRs.
  • Most of the bureaucrats are there for ‘authority’ and ‘administration’, and not development. Their approach is to ‘control’ and ‘govern’ and not ‘work as a team’ for ‘development’.
  • Also, if one gauges the real working of majority of these bureaucrats, they don’t work for anyone, but they work for themselves, and then, there are egos. So there is never a team approach in whatever they do and this drags the performance of the government.
  • Bureaucrats are more ‘procedure driven’ than ‘outcome driven’. That is why files take months to travel from one desk to another.

What needed to be done:

  • Time has come to think out of the box and overhaul this system. government’s biggest failure will be because of the inefficient and unaccountable bureaucracy who will fail to implement the government’s key schemes.
  • We need to focus on the team approach, ‘One India, one team, one goal’, that touches and transforms life till the last man standing in the line.
  • Redefining the Appraisal System: The current appraisal system looks at the ACR, which is the only thing that counts for a bureaucrat’s performance. If the performance and payment of the bureaucrat were based not just on his individual performance (50% weightage), but also the performance of his department/ministry (25% weightage) and the overall performance of the government (25% weightage), then the bureaucrats would work as a team and give up the siloed approach.

Changes needed:

Move from ACR to CPR (comprehensive performance review), which includes

Individual performance review

  • For defining/planning time-bound quantifiable and measurable deliverables for the year
  • Completion of targets within the time frame
  • Completion of targets without increase in budgets
  • Utilisation of funds
  • Disposal of files and grievances
  • Innovations
  • For any of the misses, the weightage be objectively apportioned.

Department’s performance review

  • Every department must define/plan its key yearly deliverables/priorities. This must be done by the team – the minister and officers up to the rank of joint secretary
  • Completion of targets within the time frame
  • Completion of targets without increase in budgets
  • Utilisation of funds
  • Disposal of grievances
  • For any of the misses, the weightage be objectively apportioned.

Government performance review

  • Implementation of key schemes goals and. Achievements
  • Meeting the inflation target
  • Fiscal deficit
  • GDP growth
  • Utilisation of funds
  • Disposal of grievances
    • The government works for the citizens, and finally it is the citizens who are the best judge of its performance. The above parameters can be objectively judged with data/facts, and others can be subjectively judged by the citizens under Jan Bhagidari Assessment (JBA) through online voting.
    • At the end, it is the government ‘for the people’; so the people must rate the government on overall performance through public voting after the government presents its self-appraisals on the above parameters.
    • Major change in bureaucracy is about making it a ‘performance-based contractual service’. Also, one reaches the rank of joint secretary after a minimum service of 17 years. The reality is that now they are more driven by authority and administration and less by duty and development.
    • The biggest bane of bureaucracy is their job security. Let us give them job security, but for performers. And it is time to change and fix the accountability based on a transparent review process/system.
    • All officers of the rank of joint secretary and above must be put on a five-year contract, based on their performance review along with a performance-based financial incentive. So the best performers need not worry.
    • Also, PS to the union ministers should not be an IAS. PS to the minister is considered an important bureaucrat but he is a junior IAS. The PS to the minister should be in the special secretary rank.
    • Files are taking months to move from one table to another. The e-Office/e-File concept must be implemented. No file should take more than three weeks and more than three levels. If there is a delay of more than a week, a note should be made on the file justifying the reasons for delay.

Conclusion

  • “We cannot march through the 21st century with the administrative systems of the 19th century.” We still have ‘collectors’, and this shows the bureaucracy is still in 19th century. The bureaucracy is still in the 19th century.” When Modi was thinking of the planning commission, he made a profound statement, “Sometime it is better to build a new house than to repair the old one.” Maybe, the same approach is needed for the ‘institution’ called bureaucracy. It needs to start soon and there should be a time-bound plan to implement it.
  • There is a big difference in how the minister and the common man are handled by the bureaucrats. So the first impression here should not be the last impression. Bureaucracy is slowly putting red tape to the red carpet!

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