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February 7, 2019

Task force’s proposals to overhaul bureaucracy finalised

National

February 7, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Task Force constituted by the prime minister on Civil Service Reforms has so far finalised eight major recommendations to overhaul bureaucracy but without envisaging any timelines that when this task will be accomplished.

Official sources told The News on Wednesday that the PTI led government finalised medium term strategy paper in which it explained the governance reforms and elaborated major recommendations of government’s task force.

When contacted to one member of the Task Force on Wednesday, he said that he was not aware what kinds of recommendations were finalized by the task force. When he was told about certain recommendations, he said that this kind of generic recommendations could not fix civil service. “Without any deadline, seriousness of the work can be gauged,” said member of the task force.

The official sources said that modern economic management as envisioned in the structural reform programme outlined by PTI requires an efficient administration comprising well trained civil servants. The prime minister set up a Task Force to recommend changes needed to achieve such administration. Its recommendations are summarised in eight points as the government will soon announce an implementation plan.

Civil Service Reforms:

(i) Open, transparent merit - based recruitment to all levels and grades of public services with Regional Representation as laid down in the constitution. Instead of one general examination for all cadre services, the candidates would be given option to appear at tests for any of the four different clusters with specialized domain.

(ii) The present system of confidential reports which are highly subjective would be replaced by Objective based Performance evaluation with key performance indicators. Promotions and career progression for all public sector employees would take place on the basis of performance and training outcomes.

(iii) Compulsory systematic training at post induction, mid-career and senior management levels would be offered to all civil servants in cadre and non-cadres to enhance their competencies in managerial skills as well as specialized fields.

(iv) Equality of opportunities for career advancement would be provided to all employees without preferences or reservations for any particular class.

(v) The concept of Superior Services would be replaced by equality among all cadres and non-cadres of public servants in terms, conditions, training and career advancement.

(vi) Compensation package would be revised from time to time to provide a decent living wage including decent retirement benefits to all civil servants.

(vii) Security of tenure of office would be ensured for a specified period of time except if the officer is found guilty of malfeasance, misconduct and insubordination.

(viii) Opportunities would be provided to induct professionals and technical experts from outside the regular civil service on contractual basis to fill in the gaps in the skill sets unavailable in the ministries and departments.

Enhancing efficiency and transparency of the government: e-governance would be introduced in next two years in all ministries and government agencies to ensure transparency, efficiency and convenience to citizens in their transactions with the government. Introduction of e-government would be accelerated with local area network connectivity, websites, data bases, electronic filing and tracking, all correspondence through emails forming a minimum package for all divisions/ attached departments/ autonomous bodies. It is realized that technological solutions, hardware and software applications are easy part of the process but the most difficult aspect would be the training and a change in the culture, attitude and practices. E-government would be driven by business needs rather than crafted as an elegant technical solution.

All laws, rules, regulations, circulars, guidelines issued by any government ministry/department/agency would be made available in its most up dated version to the general public free of cost in a user-friendly manner on web page and in electronic and print forms at public places.

Service standards with timelines for each type of service rendered at the District, Tehsil and Union level should be developed, widely disseminated and posted at public places in each department.

Rules of business at the Federal, Provincial and District Governments should be revised to make them simple, comprehensible empowering the Secretaries/ Heads of Departments/ Local Government Officers to take decisions without multiple references, clearances and back and forth movement of files. Post-audit of the decisions taken should be used to ensure accountability rather than prior clearances.

Estacode, Financial Rules, Accounting and Audit Rules, Fundamental Rules and all other rules in force would be reviewed systematically and revised to bring them in line with modern management practices, they concluded.

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