Organisation and Methods (O&M) of functioning of an office is critically evaluated from the headquarters by a team of officers annually. In official parlance, O&M inspection is a most dreadful term as all the receipts and disposals of files are scrutinised and anomalies noted. Liabilities incurred by presiding officers are detailed in black and white for refund. The period between the announcement and conduct of the inspection is most strenuous for an ordinary government servant. The inspection report by convention always has an inclination to find faults in the O&M of the institution. Invariably, it pleases none. The committed ones will be the saddest. For those who expect and deserve the worst, it is business as usual because they have company. Only there is a degree of difference.
It is the only period when an institution gets maximum attention internally and externally. The walls are whitewashed, the tables and chairs painted, and office precincts cleared. Everything gets new a lease of life. The shabbiest among the staff becomes a fine gentleman, clearing all the odd papers scattered around his seat for years.
Habitual late-comers come to the office even before normal timings as if to atone for past mistakes. It is also the perfect time for wearing uniforms for attendants. The oversensitive ones among the staff will have a gradual changeover as the date of inspection advances. “After all it is your fate. No O&M inspection goes without a victim. This time it may be suspension for me”.
The days preceding the inspection are eventful as well, with everyone making a beeline for corrections and alterations in records. Those who give scant attention to the upkeep of records and registers even after all kinds of warnings make a nosedive and become the most submissive. The supervisory staff also faces a predicament in that if they reject such demands, the O& M team will surely unearth such files and cast unfavourable observations against them as well. It is a ‘divided you fall and united you win’ situation. Special prayers are offered to ward off any untoward incident.
The meek have always tears in their eyes and predict doom. “This is the end of my career sir. I have never been successful in my life. I will fail this time too. It is the curse of the gods”. Those are fellows inefficient by birth and are the curse of the civil service. But there is another lot among the disadvantaged who never losses heart. They make all-out efforts to tide over the lapses once the inspection is announced. The registers are made up-to-date.
Communications pending for months despatched at lightning speed, non-existing file recreated. They will also volunteer to play the role of the host for the inspection team. Full-fledged services day and night are their forte.
Food, accommodation and travel facilities are arranged in advance and utmost care is taken for the needs and wishes of the inspection team. The rapport so created with the team will definitely be beneficial for them, they expect. It goes without saying that all kinds of human emotions and tactics are at play at the time of inspection.
The inspection concludes with the visit of the high-ranking official from the headquarters. He would chair a special staff meeting to discuss the performance level of one and all, asking questions and reprimanding those who have failed miserably. There will be warnings of imminent punitive steps the moment he reaches back to the HQ. It will be a sleepless night for many and a pleasing evening for the deities.