As the single biggest employer of the workforce in the country, maintaining a small, compact and efficient civil service remains a daunting task for the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC).
Speaking at the Bhutan Dialogue titled RCSC and the Performance of Civil Service in Thimphu yesterday, chairperson, Karma Hamu Dorjee, said that with more than 29,000 civil servants, keeping civil service small, compact and efficient was a challenge.
Karma Hamu Dorjee said that governance was complex and required lot of initiatives and reforms to strengthen the system, bring in new approaches, and new areas of development so that it maintains effective and efficient civil service.
However, she said that keeping compact and small was completely not in the hands of the RCSC because lot of growth in the civil service is caused by changes in policy.
“For instance, if the government of the day wants to establish an early learning centres, it means there is going to be a need for lot of staff, as it is human resource intensive,” the Chairperson said. “If the government wants to establish central schools, then with the schools comes a lot of human resources.”
She added the lists goes on including a new hospital and also when new policies are put in place or sometimes Acts are enacted that again require human resources.
“We can rationalise it to an extend to make sure there is utilisation of staff to meet the changes. However, we’ve protocols to ensure that right person is put in right job considering all the technical aspects.”
However, she said that the complete decision is usually not in their hands. “If we look at the period between 2013-2018, there is almost a growth of 3,500 civil servants and largely this is because of policy decisions. For example, you give a bolero to the gewogs, we need a driver, these are all the ways that the civil servants are growing.”
The chairperson said that the government of the day has a legal mandate to implement the policies, implement development plans and programmes, and priortise plans where they have to put in effort. “So, our role as civil servants is to support the political masters, as long as it is within the legal frameworks and rules and regulations.
She further explained that if the next government decided not to have boleros, the RCSC has ensured or tried that most of these drivers’ new position is put under contract to maintain the flexibility in case, if these positions are removed. The drivers can leave when the contract period is over.
The Chairperson also said that because of change in policies, the requirement for teachers also shot up and as an interim measure for those teachers on EOL or resigning, RCSC needs to recruit teachers on contracts. More than 300 teachers have been put in system based on the needs so far, it has still not met the teacher attrition rate.
With the 12th Plan focused on decentralisation, which would mean additional human resources, Karma Hamu told Kuensel that RCSC would redeploy staff from other agencies based on the need and not necessarily recruit new staff.
“They should ensure that the staff is fully utilised. For this, we’ve already started the OD exercise in dzongkhags presently and we’ll consult with all the agencies, gewogs, and thromdes on the requirement of additional human resources.”
Concluding her dialogue on the RCSC, the chairperson said that RCSC would hopefully establish excellence in services down 15 years and that it should remain as the place that would attract the best and the brightest civil servants.
“The beauty of the civil servants is that we can work in so many organisations and sectors and in so many positions so it gives you an experience. Having learnt under so many bosses, both good and bad, you learn from the success and you also learn from their mistakes,” she said.
According to its annual report, the commission states that the civil servant to population ratio of 1:25 (735,553 PHCB 2017) appears large when compared to other countries.
The strength of the civil service as of January 31, 2019 was 29,442, comprising 26,355 regular civil servants and 3,087 contract employees. On June 30, 2018, the civil service’s strength was 28,973.
Yangchen C Rinzin