The Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) led the reorganization of the civil service agencies along with a group of executives, and has come up with proposals aimed at bringing about a lot of changes in the structure of the 10 ministries and other agencies.
The main proposal is to disband the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources (MoLHR) and the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC), and also to create a new ministry called the Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy.
The proposal is that MoIC will be merged with the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement (MoWHS). This will be a homecoming for the MoIC, as previously both ministries were one, and then known as the Ministry of Communications.
It was felt that there was a duplication in the roles of the two ministries, especially when it came to MoIC looking after all transport and MoWHS looked after roads.
When it comes to the Department of Information Technology and Telecom, it is to be turned into the National Gov Tech which will be a body for information technology that will be for whole Bhutan, and cut across agencies and will be a lead player in Bhutan’s digital transition.
The MoIC’s other departments are Road Safety and Transport Authority, Department of Air Transport and Department of Information and Media which will mainly be absorbed into the MoWHS.
In the case of the MoLHR, it will mainly be merged with the Ministry of Education. This will firstly be complementary, given the vocation education role and institutions under MoLHR, and secondly because there are ongoing efforts to link education to employability.
However, it is proposed that the Department of Labour of the MoLHR will be put under the Department of Immigration, given again the complementary nature of two organizations.
It is also proposed that the Department of Employment and Entrepreneurship will be moved to the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA), again given the complimentary nature of the two.
Then another new ministry is proposed to be created by splitting the MoEA into two. It will be called the Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy by combining the Department of Hydropower and Power Systems and the Department of Renewable Energy. This new ministry will also have charge of the Department of Geology and Mines.
The Department of Forest under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests will be moved into this new ministry.
The MoEA will have the Departments of Trade, Industry and Cottage and Small Industries, Employment and others.
Another major change is that a lot of the autonomous commissions and agencies will be attached to ministries.
The Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) is proposed to be divided up between the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Finance.
The National Environment Commission (NEC) is proposed to be clubbed under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests.
The Dzongkha Development Commission (DDC) is proposed to be clubbed under the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs, again given the similar and complementary mandates.
The Media Council and the National Film Commission, which had been taken out of Bhutan Infocomm and Media Authority (BICMA) to primarily look at content in media, ICT and films through an autonomous board with industry representatives are being sent back into BICMA again.
BAFRA and the Drugs Regulatory Authority could be combined into one, like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the USA.
The Bhutan Narcotics Control Authority may also see some major changes.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs may see the Department of Regional Cooperation being repurposed, especially since SAARC is quite inactive. Its current functions will be moved to the Multilateral Department, and it is proposed to be renamed as the Department for Economic and Tech Diplomacy focusing on looking at economic opportunities and also tech issues that are important for Bhutan once it graduates from its LDC status in 2023.
The Directorate of Services in every ministry with a Director as a head is proposed to be done away with as a department.
Similarly, there will be either departments merging, some being downgraded or even some new ones created in various ministries.
There will be changes in the Ministry of Health and JDWNRH too. The JDWNRH is to serve as a center for other regional hospitals. The change here will look at improving health services and appointments by using technology.
The Ministry of Finance will see additional responsibilities, in terms of long term financial planning, macro level planning and also national planning.
A source said that the reorganization is not about doing away with ministries, agencies or commissions but it is about rationalizing and putting them together in complementary roles.
The source said that when the issue of connectivity was looked at, it did not make sense to have roads under the MoWHS while Civil Aviation was under MoIC.
On the issue of the removal of NEC, DDC, Media Council and Film Commission, the source said they will still exist, but the change is that their secretariat jobs will be done by the ministries and this will prevent a separate secretariat in each place.
However, the membership of these bodies may also change based on the laws that will be amended.
A major exercise out of this will be the amending of various Acts and Laws to affect these changes. The laws are currently being looked at by agencies and the Office of the Attorney General.
Individual Civil Servants not to be adversely affected
Another source said that there are quite a few changes, but it is not going to adversely affect any individual civil servant.
The source put to rest rumors that large numbers of civil servants would lose jobs or be managed out due to the reorganization.
The source said the reorganization purpose is geared towards efficiency and effectiveness in public service delivery. It is also to bring together agencies that serve a similar purpose or function.
The source said that when it comes to certain staff, like office assistants, they will be redeployed as it was seen that they often do not have any work.
The reorganization of the civil service structure will go along with the new Rules for Administrative Disciplinary Actions (RADA) that will be stricter with behavioral and other issues for civil servants and there will be more accountability. However, here, accountability is expected from the service receivers as well.
The senior civil servants not only looked at improving service delivery, but also at enhancing the economic growth of the country, and so looked at the 12th Plan, and if activities can be consolidated across agencies.
The source said one of the other aims of this reorganization is to reduce red tape and administrative burden.
The source said that what was observed was that, when there are too many parallel agencies doing the same thing, then the manpower cannot be distributed effectively. This consolidation and mergers will allow for manpower pools to form, and they will be further trained to enhance them.
RCSC, in a press release on 10 June 2022, announced that it has been working closely with executives to accelerate efforts to transform the Civil Service.
It said they will be reorganising the Civil Service agencies and increasing the use of technology so that they can better serve the public.
It said the restructuring exercise is being guided by broad strategies which aim to establish and strengthen ministries, as the foundational structure of governance, for a more effective role in policy setting and enforcement, and reposition ministries and agencies strategically with allied mandates and common objectives for greater synergy and collaboration, and leverage technology for improved service delivery and productivity.
It is also to cluster common services to provide support functions, such as finance, HR, procurement etc., for optimal HR utilization, and outsource services wherever feasible – for cost efficiency.
It said that as a result of this reorganisation, some positions will be made redundant. Some jobs will become bigger and more complex as more will be expected in anticipating citizens’ needs and demand for higher service delivery standards.
The press release had said that at the same time, they are also overhauling their personnel management and remuneration systems to ensure that civil servants will be incentivised to better serve citizens, and supervisors will manage their staff and other resources under their charge better.
It had said civil servants who do not perform should expect to exit. It said given the extensive changes, they expect the implementation to be in phases, and to complete the main aspects of this round of reorganisation by the end of 2023.