l Tashi Wangmo, Thimphu
The Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC), in its annual report July 2016- June 2017, State of the Royal Civil Service, has called upon secretaries of the different ministries “to institute a Civil Service tradition whereby government Secretaries submits periodic reports to His Majesty the King.”
“As top civil servants representing the “permanent” government, and thus critical for ensuring continuity of policies and programmes, it has become important that they also submit directly and periodically, to His Majesty The King, the bureaucracy’s perspective, especially on issues of national importance in their respective sectors. Among others, this should help the protection and promotion of national interests irrespective of the inclination of the political leadership of the day,” the Commission recommends.
Civil servants, especially those in the decision making rungs have welcomed this recommendation. “I want to be very frank. But we do face situations wherein we are not able to make a decision, especially in cases where we see and feel that the national interests could be undermined,” a senior civil servant told The Journalist. Underlining that the country and the civil servants have reached the current stage because of the guidance and vision of Their Majesties the King and the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, he said that the RCSC’s recommendation is “perfect.” “The wisdom of our Kings is unparalleled. It would really help in making the civil service stronger and more effective,” he said.
“His Majesty the King is the Head of State. Thus, it is very important that the Throne is well informed of important issues that the Civil Service faces; reviews or reforms made and other,” civil servant based in Samdrup Jongkhar said. She mentioned that though the RCSC is there, reports from respective secretaries would be “more enriching,” and wholesome. “I am not undermining the RCSC. But reports from secretaries of ministries involved in technical areas, due to their expertise, would be more clear and precise,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Commission has also made public its Annual Report, which was previously kept confidential. “Since the Annual Report covers activities of the Commission and thereby, the state of the Civil Service, it is important that civil servants are able to see how their interests and issues are being surfaced and addressed by the Commission,” the report says.
The report has further mentioned that with only a year left to the end of the 11th Five Year Plan (FYP), the Commission has engaged in the formulation of 12th FYP. “The Commission will pursue placing Civil Service HR investments amongst the priorities for the next FYP. Such investments are going to be critical for the Civil Service to build on the reforms and to continue to be the main foundation of Bhutan’s further growth and prosperity,” the report underlines. The report reflects the RCSC’s focus in the 12th FYP, which are enhancement of public service delivery; right-sizing of civil service; promotion of leadership in the Civil Service; improvement in efficiency & effectiveness of Civil Service; strengthening meritocracy in the Civil Service; adequate deployment of civil servants in the LGs; enhancement in the decentralisation of HR functions; and ensuring transparency, accountability and integrity.
Other aspects of the report unfurl the Commission’s recognition that employees are behind the success of any organisation. “Therefore, the Commission has adopted a conscious philosophy of “civil servants first” in the use of its discretion on matters related to the Civil Service. Thus, in all exceptional matters that the Commission deals with, unless there is harm to the national interest or the overall interest of the Civil Service, the benefit of its decisions is always given to the civil servants,” the report reads.
The Commission has further mentioned that it will “continue to support public service delivery by championing the role of a unified Civil Service, not swayed by vested interests, and political influences but rather aligning its human resources and strategic vision towards the achievement of the national objectives of sovereignty, security and self-reliance.”
The Commission further says that by recognizing the well-being of civil servants as essential and fundamental to their performance, the Commission in fulfilling its mandate as prescribed in Section 27(f) and Section 89 of the CSAB 2010, it “is now focusing on softer interventions such as Civil Service Well-being (CSW) initiatives to maintain a safe and healthy working environment including health, safety and welfare of the civil servants. Future Leadership Mentoring Programmes (FLMP) and Retirement Planning are some of the important well-being initiatives undertaken during the reporting period.”