Recommendations for an improved Civil Service

The civil service system in Bhutan still follows the traditional model, and not the performance system, says a senior analyst of QED presenting his doctoral thesis paper on “Civil Service Reforms in a New Era of Governance in Bhutan,” on May 8 at Hotel Phuntsho Pelri, Thimphu.

The event called the “Brown Bag Seminar Series” is an idea by QED to provide a platform for individuals and organisations to share working papers and research outputs with the broader research community.

Lhawang Ugyel, a senior partner and researcher at the QED Group, specialising in public policy and quantitative research methods, shared his paper, a doctoral thesis being carried out at the Australian National University.

His research recommends five points, i.e. the long term vision of the civil service, easing stagnation/ enhancing professionalism, managing performance, recruitment and selection process and civil service retirement age.

Speaking on the present trend, Ugyel said that Bhutan has the centralised civil service system, which allows the RCSC to have more focus on selections of the professional and executive categories.

He also pointed out the need for autonomy and outsourcing of the occupational groups like education and training, forestry and environment protection and in architectural and engineering as well on the human resource autonomy, but recommends that financial autonomy would not work. Ugyel’s research also found the lack of coordination among the government agencies.

On the long-term vision of the civil service, Ugyel recommends that the RCSC play a bigger role as a whole of government approach or joined up government. “Looking at large public sector and civil servants as small part of it,” he added.

He said the introduction of the “One Stop Shop” is the best way to deliver services where a customer goes in one place and gets the services.

Thereby, he recommends the RCSC to become “facilitative” rather than “restrictive”. He said the RCSC can enhance mobility and groom leadership in the executive category, in administrative and human resource audit to be enforcers not enablers and pointed the need of framing broad policies and rules.

With managing performance, Ugyel says the present form of management is good enough and quite comprehensive around the evaluation and objective rating, but he pointed out that there is a difficulty in the identifying the performers and non-performers.

Ugyel recommends for each agency to identify the top 5% and bottom 5% and rest 90% for an automatic promotion of the workers. For the top 5%, the term year for promotion is to be maximum 1-2 years, need of the strong justifications from the human resource committees, then submit to RCSC for final approval, identify for civil service awards and make a presentation of the project or assignment. But, for the bottom 5%, he recommends it the promotion only after consecutive three or more years and without any penalty.

In the recruitment and selection process into P-category, he recommends having the preliminary examination and the subject papers and there should not be any distinction between the RCSC select and non-select. For the entry to EX-level, he said there is a need for interview and presentations for short listing based on recommended potential candidates. At present, the entry level to EX –level is made through an announcement based on the minimum number of years served in the previous position and interviews.

The research also recommends that the retirement age of the civil servants be increased by five years, which can lead to longevity and productivity.

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