One of the major changes coming out of the civil service reforms are the creation of new positions called ‘Clusters’ and ‘Cluster or Coordination Secretaries’ who are proposed to be in charge of the four clusters of Governance, Economy, Social and Security cutting across ministries.
The Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) said that working closely with its executives, it has submitted its report on restructuring the Civil Service to the Lhengye Zhungtshog. The RCSC said with approval accorded by the Lhengye Zhungtshog, it will be reorganising the Civil Service agencies into the flour clusters.
The Governance cluster will ensure a whole of government approach to drive Civil Service transformation to serve our public better.
Economic cluster will drive Bhutan’s economic transformation in a sustainable and responsible manner, in line with our aspirations to become a prosperous and developed country.
The Social Cluster will ensure that Bhutanese society continues to progress, as it adopts a holistic approach towards caring for people and communities, and giving them the best chance to succeed and live fulfilling lives.
The Security cluster us to secure, defend and expand Bhutan’s national interests to ensure our nationhood and sovereignty.
Each cluster of agencies will be led by a Coordinating Secretary who will be appointed from amongst the Secretaries in the Cluster. Reporting to the Cabinet and the Ministers, the four Coordinating Secretaries will form the Committee for Coordinating Secretaries (C4CS) and will be accountable for ensuring that the Civil Service is well-coordinated, and plans and implements policies from an integrated, national perspective.
The RCSC is the process of finalising the appointments of the Coordinating Secretaries, before it implements the cluster concept.
The RCSC said, “We are progressively rolling out the changes, starting with the Governance cluster. This will lay a strong foundation for subsequent major changes that we will be rolling out in the other clusters.”
The Cabinet Secretariat will now comprise two Departments: the Office of the Cabinet Affairs and Strategic Coordination, and the Office of the Prime Minister.
The Cabinet Secretariat will take on the following additional responsibilities of National Human Resource Planning from the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources, Perspective Planning and Regulatory Coordination from the Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) and Macro-Economic Policy from the Ministry of Finance (MoF).
Under the MoF, Department of Macro-Economic Affairs will be renamed the Department of Macro-Fiscal and Development Finance. GNHC’s responsibility of managing external grants will be transferred to this department.
Department of National Budget will be renamed the Department of Planning, Budget and Performance. The responsibilities of central and local government planning from GNHC and government performance management from Cabinet Secretariat will be transferred to this department.
Department of Public Accounts and the Department of National Properties will be renamed Department of Treasury and Accounts, and Department of Procurement and Properties respectively.
The GNHC’s strategic planning functions will be elevated and integrated into the Cabinet Secretariat, and its other functions transferred to the MoF as mentioned above, and the Centre for Bhutan and GNH Studies for greater synergy and impact.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Department of Cottage and Small Industry will be folded into the Department of Industry.
The Department of Hydropower and Power Systems will be merged with the Department of Renewable Energy and renamed the Department of Energy.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of Regional Cooperation will be merged with the Department of Multilateral Affairs. The Department of Economic and Tech Diplomacy will be set up to develop our national economic interests on the trade and technology fronts. The Department of Protocol will be renamed the Department of Protocol and Consular Affairs.
These four ‘cluster or coordinating secretaries’ who will be among the 10 government secretaries including the Cabinet Secretary are proposed to get more pay than government secretaries and will have responsibilities and accountability beyond their own ministry.
The aim of the clusters is to ensure better coordination across government agencies and accountability for that coordination too.
The governance cluster will look at finance, central planning, human resources etc across agencies.
The economic cluster will cover mainly economic aspects like infrastructure, energy, labour, trade, industry, mining etc.
The social cluster will focus mainly on areas like health and education.
The security cluster will cover functions in the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs and also the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that look at security as a whole.
While who the four cluster secretaries will be is not clear yet the Cabinet Secretary is expected to be one of the cluster secretaries probably heading the governance cluster.
If there are issues in any of the four clusters’ then the respective cluster secretary will be held accountable.
The cluster secretaries as peers will evaluate each other and also the secretaries below them.
The main function of the cluster secretary is to ensure there is coordination across agencies and for that the secretary must be able to rally people across agencies using good leadership.
One of the biggest criticisms of the civil service over the years has been a silo approach and even duplication and so the cluster secretaries will play an important role in ensuring this does not happen.