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Riders Of Many Horses, Jockeys Of None

The bureaucracy plays the most important role in implementation of government policies and development of the state, provided the officers have responsibilities they can manage and have the right atmosphere to carry them out. It has come to light that nearly 50 per cent of Goa’s 157 civil service officers in senior and junior scales are holding additional charges of various departments or state-run corporations. The positions they hold as additional charges need full-time heads, which means they are full-time jobs and cannot be done part-time. What is happening is that officers burdened with more charges keep moving from one office to another, unable to do justice to their work, and leaving the staff waiting for a decision or signature. The government or the public cannot blame them as the officers cannot devote full time and attention to none of their responsibilities. The overburdening takes a toll on their efficiency and on the supervision of subordinates. It comes in the way of effective implementation of government policies and schemes and hence of the quality of public service. The media, which is the public watchdog, has been finding it difficult to reach the overburdened officers or get ready comments from them about any of the areas of their responsibilities. That way, there is lack of access or delayed access of citizens to information from the government.

As many as 71 departments or government entities are being handled by a few officers as additional charge. This means there are at least that many vacancies in the government. Why cannot the government fill in the posts, so every department or public sector undertaking has an officer to take decisions? There are officers who have been retained after retirement. Hundreds of civil service officers, who have put in decades of service, are awaiting upward mobility and should be given an opportunity to rise in the hierarchy. There are also qualified Goan youth who are awaiting openings in the government sector. Why have some officers been given no responsibilities? These officers draw their salaries without doing any work. If these officers are not being given postings for some negative records, the government should adopt the standard procedure and deal with them with natural justice.

The government has recently taken a policy decision to do away with ad-hoc promotions of government officers in all its departments, thus ending a long-standing unsound practice. Many of officers promoted on ad-hoc basis languished in their posts for 10-15 years without getting benefit of promotion. As they held ad-hoc posts they seldom took decisions on crucial issues, hedging for their job security. In recent years, several officers on probation have been confirmed in their posts, ending their job insecurity. Earlier, there were cases of officials on probation being summarily dismissed from service after five years or more because they displeased their bosses who invoked provisions under Probationary Act to get rid of them. The new policy should make it easier for the government to promote officers to higher posts and fill them on a regular basis without being accused of bias, as the process will be in the hands of the Goa Public Service Commission (GPSC) whose functioning is transparent and above board. Appointment on regular basis gives an officer confidence to take decisions and perform well.

Now that the GPSC has cleared much of the backlog of promotions and regularization of services of officials, the government should take steps for filling up the vacant posts in the bureaucracy, either by promotions or direct recruitment, as there is a huge pool of human resource. There would be thousands of eligible Goans interested in civil service jobs who would be willing to compete for them. According to GPSC chairman Jose Manuel Noronha, almost 95 per cent of the total vacancies advertised by the government could easily be filled by the GPSC as there is no death of qualified people in the state for most vacancies. Appointment of officers to man every job would expedite decision making as well as implementation of policies and schemes, which in turn will benefit the public at large. If one officer is holding one charge, they would pay all their attention to it and try to perform well. Also, they would be totally accountable for their actions. There would be no room for them to get away for lapses and delay on the excuse of being overburdened. As the bureaucracy provides for robust continuity in administration, the earlier it is fortified, the better for the state.

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