A matter of favoritism – corrupt practice

Tashi Wangmo, Thimphu

The case of double funding for a fraudster, non-assessment of applicants on selection of candidates for further studies and incomplete performance appraisals considered for promotions were three predominant cases found by Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in the civil service.
As per the investigation report of ACC/ID/2011/CASE-5, five seats were allotted by a Donor Agency to pursue Post Graduate (PG) course through an agency which is outside the purview of Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC). Despite securing a full scholarship from this agency, Nima (name changed) applied and secured a government scholarship for the same study. This is forbidden as all civil servants should work with integrity and it is blatant violation of Civil Service Code of Conduct and Ethics of Bhutan Civil Servants Rules (BCSR) 2010.
In 2009, he had applied for a scholarship to his concerned office and in return, he was asked to find training institutes. Although no vacancies were announced, he had applied and secured 2nd position. But still, he got on the move.
On 9 may 2011, the scholarship implementing agency informed the parent agency to release eligibility and tuition fees of the candidate. Subsequently, Chief Human Resource Officer submitted nomination to RCSC for the RGoB scholarship. He signed undertaking with the agency only to present himself as the employee of the scholarship implementing agency to secure admission for the studies.
On 13th May he had also executed an undertaking with the RCSC, and the parent agency had disbursed Nu. 108,223 as a daily subsistence allowance (Nu. 12,000 per month as a stipend) and also disbursed Nu 5,000 to account officer of scholarship implementing agency as the registration fee.
Later, the investigating revealed that he was already receiving a monthly stipend of Rs. 25,000 from the Government of India and all the expenditure during training was also being covered.
He was asked to refund Nu. 108,336 with 24% penalty and administrative action of withholding annual increments of him were taken by the parent agency. A slot for specialized PG studies was also wasted as he was not allowed to continue his studies.
In another incident, RCSC’s HR Audit Report, 2014, stated that the performance of an autonomous agency got affected for 2 months since a key personal assistant (PA) left the organization for better opportunities.
On 23rd September, 2012, a new PA was recruited defying all code of conducts that interviewers were mandated to preserve while selecting new recruits. While some of the interviewers gave overrating, some failed to charge their duties by not following selection process properly. It was found out that it was due to carelessness and negligence or to favour someone over other candidates.
There has been no record of action taken but the HRO on interview duty was held accountable and liable for necessary administrative action for negligence.
The costs have not been monetized but the question of suitability of the selected candidate for the post lingered. Unsuitability could have an influence on the productivity of the organization and there is a possibility that the organization might have rejected the most suitable candidate who can perform better and required lesser training and supervision.
At the organization level, other employees could also be demotivated due to such practices and at the societal level, the society could lose faith in the system.
Similarly, the report mentioned one of the ministries decided to promote 41 staff without carrying out proper performance appraisals. This not only violated BCSR but it is also against the rationale of PMS and promotion.
Promotion without complete performance evolution (PE) forms with latest performance evaluation ratings, inconsistencies in PE ratings, promotion without fulfilling required qualification and without complete documents such as audit clearance certificate and last promotion orders were uncovered by the audit observation.
The RCSC did not directly address the issue but decided that the agencies are required to strictly adhere to the requirement of performance management system and maintain complete performance appraisal forms accordingly in future.
According to BCSR 2010 chapter 13: Promotion, clause 8.3 states that the officials will have to have consistently ‘Outstanding’ annual performance rating for last three consecutive years.
This case showed that there are huge gap between HRM, particularly, the PMS policy and practice. The HR audit observed breach of BCSR 2010, especially presence of gross inconsistency between promotion rules and actual practice in the Ministry.
This shows that the RCSC’s performance management system was not effectively implemented for some cases. And the existing rules were violated due to RCSC’s decentralized performance managements system at the level of agencies appear to lack effective monitoring and accountability procedures.

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