Faced with the challenge of improving efficiency and countering a bureaucracy seeking more hands, the state government has decided to conduct a work audit for its employees.
The audit will cover section officers, case workers and employees in lower ranks, and evaluate how many files they clear, how much time they take to clear a file and how often they go on tour.
The Karnataka State Government Employees Association has been urging the government to fill about 1.5 lakh posts in various departments, but the government is sceptical there is work for so many.
The audit move has caused a flutter among government employees who are asking why officials at the higher level have been exempted from it.
Refusing to accept the argument about staff shortage, Shalini Rajneesh, secretary in the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms (DPAR), has written to principal secretaries of all departments to conduct a “scientific evaluation” of the efficiency of section heads, case workers and subordinate staff. The letter also asks principal secretaries to send details of the extent of staff shortage or surplus.
Emphasising the need for better use of technology, the letter seeks to know the number of computers in each department and the extent of their use. It also urges top officials to take stock and indicate if any sections could be merged or closed altogether.
“We receive frequent demands for filling vacant posts, but we would like to identify excess staff and make optimum use of existing staff,” said a DPAR source. According to secretariat sources, the undersecretary (coordination) in each department is responsible for monitoring the movement of files.
The instructions section of the DPAR is vested with the responsibility of monitoring file movement in all departments. However, the system is dysfunctional.
Though the Karnataka State Government Employees Association has not opposed the government’s move, it is asking why higher officials are not being subjected to a similar assessment. L Byrappa, president of the association told Express, “We are not opposed to evaluation of efficiency. But work pressure is mounting as the government is yet to fill about 1.5 lakh vacant posts.”
He said the workload had increased over the years with programmes like Sakala, which mandates speedy clearance of files being introduced. “The government should conduct a similar evaluation for senior officials,” he urged. On the ground, employees are asking why principal secretaries, secretaries, additional secretaries, joint secretaries and deputy secretaries can get away after delaying the implementation of important decisions.
For example, departmental inquiries related to corruption cases are not completed within the stipulated six months.
Employees in the irrigation and PWD department say the promotion of 79 assistant executive engineers as executive engineers has been pending for 18 months. While the top bureaucracy sat on the files, 20 of these engineers have retired. “This is an abnormal delay with huge potential for graft. So the work of higher officials should also come under the audit,” an employee said.
How Busy Are You?
The DPAR chief is asking section heads and case workers:
■ How many files have you received since January?
■ How many have you cleared?
■ How much time do you take to clear a file?
■ How many meetings have you attended?
■ How many days have you spent touring?
■ How many posts are vacant in your department?