A lot of the attention of the recent leadership assessment has gone on the senior executives being managed out, but the actual Civil Service reforms are much deeper and wider.
As His Majesty said in the past, the success or failure of Bhutan as a nation rests primarily on the shoulders of the civil service.
On the other hand, an ever burgeoning civil service has been consuming the bulk of the country’s resources, and all political parties wanted to be on their good side with pay hikes and incentives in return for their support during elections. Performance was secondary.
This was an unhealthy understanding at the cost of the Bhutanese people the politicians and civil servants are actually meant to serve.
The Civil Service reforms inspired by His Majesty’s Kasho is a timely intervention whose importance cannot be understated.
The RCSC bringing about the concept of ‘hire and fire’ in the civil service is a welcome move as the main reason that civil servants become complacent is the assumption of it being a permanent job, irrespective of performance or results.
Another welcome change is now asking for actual results from civil servants as opposed to only doing the basics, which many do.
The focus on the net result of improving public service delivery will bring about more accountability to the people.
The reforms will also bring about better coordination.
Mid-level or junior civil servants should not assume the reforms will start and end with the executives being managed out, but they will also be held accountable.
The reforms will result in a more accountable, compact, productive, well coordinated and efficient civil service.
The aim to reduce or remove redundancy is also important as we have too many agencies and other bodies staffed by people without much work. It is also time to ask if a small country really needs 10 ministries.
However, the main change that the reform aims to bring is a major change in the mindset and culture of the civil service from either being high and entitled Dashos or a frog’s well of mediocrity to now actually jumping into the sea to deliver results, serve the people, reach for the sky and help propel Bhutan into the next age.
“There should be only one political ideology and that is good governance.”