Monday, February 15, 2010

Netas upset over bureaucrats assessing them, cabinet secretary’s pet project now at stake

CALL it a new avatar for Indian bureaucrats. Having remained at the mercy of politicians for decades and becoming victims of random transfers and politically-motivated postings, bureaucrats have now discovered a new role --- assessing their political masters!
If Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh-backed innovative idea of assessing his ministries by a group of bureaucrats goes through, it will be the first case of babudom over netagiri in Independent India. Yet, with some senior cabinet ministers opposing the system in public, there are doubts whether the efficiency enhancing tool, aimed at improving administrative delivery and accountability, will actually take off in real sense.
A number of senior Congress leaders have raised their voice against the newly introduced Performance Monitoring and Evaluation System (PMES) as it will allow a select group of bureaucrats assess the work of a minister, according to a media report.
The system, the first phase for which is implemented in 59 of 84 ministries and departments from January 1--March 31, 2010, allows the Committee on Government Performance (CGP) reviewing the performance a ministry. Incidentally, the committee comprises cabinet secretary, finance secretary, expenditure secretary, secretary (Planning Commission), secretary (Performance Management) and secretary of the concerned ministry or department. According to the PMES, Results-Framework Document (RFD) tracking the targets of a ministry, needs to be signed both by the concerned minister and secretary which then is reviewed by the group of secretaries (CGP), thereby giving bureaucrats an upper-hand over their political masters.
Those ministers who are opposed to this move, believed to be a pet project of incumbent cabinet secretary KM Chandrasekhar, include health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, road transport minister Kamal Nath, information and broadcasting minister Ambika Soni and minister of state for environment Jairam Ramesh.
“I would like to make it clear that the very concept of evaluation of the performance of a minister by a bureaucrat is totally ill-conceived. It is the minister who is supposed to evaluate the performance of the bureaucrat and not the other way round,” Indian national daily Hindustan Times quoted health minister Azad saying it. According to the report, both Kamal Nath and Jairam Ramesh have not signed the document so far.
The ministers who are however kept out of this assessment are finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, external affairs minister SM Krishna, defence minister AK Antony (defence) and home minister P Chidambaram.
On November 3, 2009, cabinet secretary inaugurated a workshop on Results Frameworks Documents (RFD) which was attended by 250 officials.
Also Read

Action and Appointments
Nine IAS officers transferred in AP
In a major reshuffle of senior officers in Andhra Pradesh, Shekhar Prasad Singh (1983 batch) has been appointed principal secretary information and communications whereas MT Krishna Babu (1993 batch) will be the CMD of AP Central Power Distribution Company Limited. The other appointments are:
G Sai Prasad (1991 batch): Vice-chairman of AP Housing Board
D Vara Prasad (1997 batch): Collector of Nizamabad district
D Sambasiva Rao (1984 batch): Secretary, secondary education
K Sunitha (1996 batch): Director, Youth Services
D Kadmiel (1993 batch): Chief Commissioner of Land Administration (CCLA)
R Subba Rao (1992 batch): Secretary SC, ST Commission
Yogita Rana (2003 batch): Deputy Commissioner Commercial Taxes


  1. Dear Editor,

    In West Minister model of Parliamentary Democracy followed in this country, the Minister is appointed by the President on the advice of Prime Minister. The Minister in the Council of Minister is individually answerable to the Prime Minister and the Council of Minister is collectively answerable to the Parliament. The council of Minister runs the government till its party or coalition enjoys the confidence of the Lower House of the Parliament. Further, the Minister is an Executive Head of his Ministry. The structure of bureaucracy is subordinate to the Minister and assists him in discharging his lawful functions.

    Bureaucrats, in no way can sit as judges to evaluate the performance of a Minister. How a subordinate would judge the performance of his boss and even if it does, it would not be an objective assessment?. The Prime Minister is treading a wrong path by pursuing the idea of judging the performance of his Minister through the Bureaucrats. The Prime Minister can himself have sessions without any bureaucrat with his colleagues to know the information first hand.

    Why the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, Defence Minister A.K. Antony and Home Minister P. Chidambaram kept out of this assessment?. Will Pranab Mukherjee and Sharad Pawar resign on the inability of this government to control the rise in prices?. Personal immaculateness is alright, but when as Minister heads a Ministry, one has to ensure such levels of purity in the administration under him. The Defense Ministry is most corrupt organization. Why A.K. Antony was left out of monitoring? The media of this country was up in arm against Mr. Shivraj Patil former Home Minister, will the same media would ask Chidambaram to resign after Pune blasts.

    I feel that Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Road Transport Minister Kamal Nath, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni and Minister of State for Environment Jairam Ramesh are right in their criticism of the move of their evaluation by the bureaucrats.

    This move could boomerang on the Prime Minister who holds slippery ground due to his lack being an unquestioned leader of his own party. This may also ricochet on some of the top bureaucrats including the present Cabinet Secretary.

  2. Good work dear blogger -- u hv initiated n informed debate on a critical issue of governance. do keep it up and don't get swayed by misplaced sentiments and priorities.