Thursday, September 20, 2012

Administrative Reforms since Independence: Major concerns; Important Committees and Commissions; Reforms in financial management and human resource development; Problems of implementation.


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ADMINISTRATIVE REFORMS:
Reform - The word ' Reform ' means to make something better, to improve something or to remove the faults of something especially by changing its behaviour or structure.


Reform is an inherited feature of  Public(govt.) Administration because of the constant growth of its functions for catering to the ever increasing demands of society and to remain relevant in the changing times.


A single definition of Administrative reform has not been come to, however, there are two ways/approaches to understanding it:
i) Reform of Administration as a complex rebuilding of it.
ii) Reform to be a particular change within administration or just a modernising or improvising of administrative procedures.


Various aspects of Administrative reform are:
i) Political
ii) Legal
iii) Institutional
iv) Technical
v) Personnel
vi) Financial
viii) Social
ix) Psychological,etc.

These are often interlinked as well.


Stages in Administrative reform:
i) Theoretical
ii) Practical situation emergence for reform
iii) Preparation stage for implementation of reform
iv) Realisation of the reforms when there is success in achieving the stipulated aims that were pre-set.



Apart from national factors of reform, stress should also be put here on the role of International organisations such as UNO,EU,OECD, WB,IMF,etc. who push countries/members to reform their administrative practices through various means like development funds, Millennium Goals, Good Governance,Sanctions,etc.







ADMINISTRATIVE REFORMS SINCE INDEPENDENCE IN INDIA:
Independence opened up new and bigger challenges before the country as it was under a solemn obligation to bring about social and economic improvement which was an all-round improvement in the lives of the people of the country. The government is irrevocably committed to the DPSPs enshrined in the Constitution,which directs it actively to work for the economic and social well being of the people,refer to importance of DPSP - http://publicadministrationtheone.blogspot.in/2012/09/philosophical-and-constitutional.html

Also, to achieve this apart from reforming administrative machinery,there was a need to reform the attitudes of the Civil services as well from a colonial hangover of domination and non transparency to sub servient to the people of India as envisaged in the Preamble of the Indian Constitution that begins with 'We, the people of India'.

The first reform in Public administration since Independence began with the introduction of the Parliamentary form of government based on Universal Adult Franchise which consequently transformed the civil services to an instrument/tool in the hands of the popularly elected government for implementation of its policies and programmes and a service provider to the public.

The next step in administrative reforms was the establishment of the All India Services,Central services and State services machinery.

After that came the decentralisation reform where Constitutional status was conferred upon local self governments in rural and urban areas which enhanced the arena and functions of Public administration.

 One must note that when the Constitution was being framed, the Constitution founding fathers did not pay much thought to the type of administrative machinery required for an Independent India as they felt that the inherited one was doing its job well,and,perhaps they also felt  that Constitutional and political changes were of major consequence that would automatically make its tool which is public administration undergo the requisite transformation under its impact.
However,such a interlink never really happened,and with the onset of the Planning Commission and its development Plans the painfully inadequate and weak administrative system was discovered. Thus, the first Five Year Plan called for reforms regarding the same.

So, the Staff Reorganisation Unit was setup in 1953, later renamed the Staff Inspection Unit under the Ministry of Finance to review staffing in government agencies with a view to achieve economy in staff consistent with administrative efficiency. This Unit is still in existence and doing useful work but is not directly or immediately related to administrative reform.

In 1954,the establishment of the O & M agency in the govt. located in the Cabinet Secretariat, to begin and sustain administrative efficiency in all branches of public administration brought in some hope for real administrative reforms. Its location in the Cabinet Secretariat enabled it to get cooperation and collaboration from all other Ministries and departments and direct them to achieve the same and keep them accountable. Refer to O & M in detail in this post - http://publicadministrationtheone.blogspot.in/2012/08/techniques-of-administrative.html







MAJOR CONCERNS DRIVING ADMINISTRATIVE REFORMS:

i) Efficiency and Economy
ii) Specialisation
iii) Effective cooperation and coordination
iv) Administration and Development of Personnel
v) Accountability
vi) Corruption








IMPORTANT COMMITTEES AND COMMISSIONS ON ADMINISTRATIVE REFORMS SINCE INDEPENDENCE:
 The A.D. Gorwala Committee appointed in 1951 by the Planning Commission and in 1953 the Appleby Commission was set up as well to analyse the administrative machinery for implementing planned development submitted its report with the recommendation to introduce O & M procedures in govt. departments as well as setting up of IIPA for advancement of administrative knowledge which was subsequently implemented.
In 1956, the Planning Commission again constituted the Committee on Plan Projects to carry out studies in the field of projects,with a view of evolving suitable forms of organisation,methods,standards and techniques for avoiding waste and ensuring efficient execution of projects. This Committee was wound up as a separate entity in 1970 but played an important part in developing development administration. Refer to post on Development Administration - http://publicadministrationtheone.blogspot.in/2012/08/development-dynamics-concept-of.html

The Second Pay Commission in 1959 recommended the pooling of the Secretariat and the attached offices into a single Headquarter organisation.

S. R. Das Committee, a one-man Commission which investigated allegations of corruption and misuse of power against Chief Minister Kairon of Punjab who lost his office as a result of his findings.

Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Corruption, in its report in 1964,found that corruption was not confined to only lower rank of public service. It recommended the setting up of the Central Vigilance Commission armed with adequate powers as well as a code of conduct for Ministers on par with the Chief Ministers of all states. However, once must note here that this reform has been diluted and the CVC has only been conferred advisory/recommendation powers and has to recommend to/take permission from the respective ministry/dept in order to proceed with investigating against its erring officials on the complaint through the CBI. If this machinery has to be made relevant and powerful then there has to be a release of it from this permission system as well as making the CBI an independent organisation away from the clutches of the government. However, the CVC does publish its reports and as to why its recommendations were rejected by the respective Ministry/Officials and if there is a strong and vigilant opposition then it can make a lot of difference and it has made a difference time and again when the situation is favourable.

First Administrative Reforms was set up in 1966 - 1970 with Morarji Desai as its Chairman and on his becoming Deputy Prime Minister, K. Hanumanthaiya took over. The Commission submitted 20 reports discussing different areas of administration and reforms for it with detailed 500 recommendations.
The Commission recommended entry into the middle and senior management levels in secretariat from all services. As well as holding of a mid - career competitive written examination for filling middle and senior level positions in the government and many other recommendations pertaining to the Public Service Commissions, however all of these were turned down due to lack of political will and bureaucratic dominance over implementation of the recommendations,but its recommendations on Training were accepted and implemented in entirety by the government as a plausible means of administrative reform and capacity building.

The biggest issue with implementing recommendations of commissions and committees is that there isn't a sound policy for the same. The responsibility of accepting/rejecting such recommendations is left to the concerned Ministry/department. The implementation branch in the Department of Administrative reforms is ruled by bureaucrats dissect these reports before submitting it to the Cabinet,so a bureaucrat would never pass any recommendation that is uncomfortable for him and his status/position. So it is killed at the very beginning.
Also the ARC's recommendation for a strong Lokpal was also accepted but has yet to see the light of the day since almost half a century of its recommendation.

There is a need for reform here which was recommended in the ARC report as well, where an all-party Parliamentary committee should be set up to keep a watch over the implementation of the accepted recommendations and report on the other recommendations as to why it cannot be accepted. And, during this process the bureaucrats should be kept away. Within three months of receipt of the report from the Commission , the govt. should place before the Parliament a white paper indicating its decisions regarding the recommendations and debates and discussions should ensue by the Parliamentarians for fair play.

The Jha  Commission on Economic Administrative reforms advocated the need to move towards accountability in the positive sense so that greater importance was given to performance instead of rules and regulations/procedures. The concept of Management by Objectives was introduced in the form of Annual Action plan for Ministries and Departments and Memoranda Of Understanding with PSUs,which we can see today ( giving status to PSUs like Navratna and Maharatna,etc.). Similarly, an online monitoring of managerial performance in infrastructure sectors was inititated.

Post this,the administrative reforms have shifted their attention to micro-levels and has since become an area of bureaucrats through the nodal administrative reforms agency i.e. the Department of Personnel and Administrative reforms under the Home Ministry which is manned by career civil servants that would not pass hard reform measures and is only content with soft pedestrian level reforms. On the personnel side of its functions, the Department formulates policies relating to recruitment,training,promotion,employer-employee relations,service conditions,etc. in the civil service. Staff welfare,discipline and morale in civil service and integrity in administration form a part of its portfolio. It also determines the policy relating to administrative reform in India.
But,the range and nature of the work undertaken by the Department above, makes the term administrative reform inappropriate as they are more akin to administrative improvement only,that is improvement of existing structures only that carries a local meaning and significance and the official manning it are far away from actual problems of administration and are just performing clerical activities.

To be effective, the Department needs to look around for fresh ideas and alternatives in the field of Public administration through meaningful and intelligent comparative studies and debates of Public and Personnel administration forums at the national as well as international level and undertake research on the same. It needs to shed its veil of secrecy and interact with the public more to improve its status as well as functions and gain respect from all departments and ministries who treat it as an outsider and do not allow it to study them or advise them.

The Fifth and Sixth Pay Commissions brought in a lot of reforms as well for sustaining the integrity and honesty of public administrators through enhanced pays that were implemented.
The arrival of the New Industrial Policy and LPG brought in a lot of major reforms, like the introduction of ICT technology in administration ( E- Governance) and Public-Private partnership, as well as dis investments in PSUs which has led to a higher efficiency as well as effectiveness in administration.

The Punchchi Commission also is worth noting here - refer to http://www.preservearticles.com/2011092814259/what-were-the-main-recommendations-of-punchhi-commission.html


The Second Administrative reforms Commission headed by Veerappa Moily has recommended that the subject of Public Administration/Governance be made mandatory for aspiring civil servants, besides setting up National Institutes of Public Administration and the Central Services Authority. The Government of India has come up with a draft Public Services Bill (2007) that aims to change the nature of the civil services as well as face the challenges to governance in the context of complex global challenges. This paper presents an overview of the changing nature of civil services in India in the post-Independence period with emphasis on the reforms and the challenges ahead. Refer - http://arc.gov.in/

Implementing Aadhar or Unique Identification Authority of India.

Expenditure Reforms Commission - that emphasized on a drastic downsizing of the government staff strength for securing modern and professional governance and also reducing the increasing salary bill of the Government of India.

The D.S. Kothari Committee Report on Recruitment Policy and Selection Methods, 1976, interalia recommended a major change in the examination system. It recommended a two-stage examination process – a preliminary examination followed by a main examination. This Committee also suggested changes in the training pattern for the civil services.


The Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances(DARPC) has proposed a framework for good governance in the form of a Code of Governance. The main components of this Code are: (i)improving service delivery; (ii) development of programmes for weaker sections and backward areas; (iii) technology and system improvement; (iv) financial management and budget sanctity; (v)accountability and transparency; (vi) public service morale and anti-corruption; and (vii) incentivizing reforms.


However,to conclude here,the opinion is that the central reform agency has failed in its mission and hardly rises above organisational and O& M levels. The Planning Commission provides the perspective for planning and the DARPC does the policy planning,however both of these organisations are ill staffed for the same as they have specialsits mostly who are distant from the administrative realities,so there is a need to have a seperate long term Administrative reforms organisation,free of bureaucrats and staffed with eminent people who have practical knowledge of the working of administration and its major concerns to bring in bold administrative reforms and also people need to be made aware of their rights as well as the duties and responsibilities the public officials owe to them in which the NGOs and NPOs as well as civil society can make a lot of contribution and difference.







REFORMS IN FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT:
Public Finance Management basically deals with all aspects of resource mobilisation  and expenditure management in government. Very important in today's times as rising population and rising demands is leaving a big burden on the economy.

However Public Financial Management continues to be restricted to budget implementation,administration of payment systems,accounting and reporting in the states of funds received and spent.

Reforms however have been brought in that focus on results and outcomes rather than only on compliance with procedures as tools of modern financial management like IT and Financial information system are being implemented to improve efficiency and accountability.

Also the accounting system is being changed from cash based to accrual accounting for more transparency,clarity and efficiency.






REFORMS IN HUMAN RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT:
There have been various commissions and committees set up mentioned above that also dealt with human resource development like training and capacity building as well as Pay Commissions that enhanced and recommended better recruitment & promotion practices as well as conditions of service,etc.

A mention should be made here of the reforms in the educational sector too for building the capacity of the human resource in a country like the Knowledge Commission and Education for all policy,setting up central and state open schools and universities as well as a variety of flexible as well as standardised distance learning courses as well as the enactment of the Right to Education Act.
Refer - http://mhrd.gov.in/policy_initiatives







PROBLEMS OF IMPLEMENTATION OF REFORMS:
i) Lack of Political will
ii) Lack of Bureaucratic will
iii) Bureaucratic stranglehold over administrative reforms
iv) Lack of long term strategising agency for administrative reforms free of bureaucratic stranglehold.
v) Lack of information dissemination among people and stakeholders of reforms being carried out.
vi) Over staffing and burden over the exchequer for paying salaries instead of diverting it to reforms implementations.
vii) Lack of comparative study and interaction of Administration practices and administrators internationally as well as among the public.
viii)Move from administrative improvement attitude within existing structures and machineries to proper administrative reformist attitudes that pushes the envelope.
ix) Lack of practical solutions and recommendations by the Commissions and committees at times due to idealistic/theoretical attitude or lack of practical experience in the subject.
x) Lack of awareness among public in regards to their rights and the public official's duties and responsibilities towards them.
 xi) Corruption and vested interests and weak anti corruption agencies.


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8 comments:

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