Haryana chief secretary PK Chaudhery has abundant administrative experience with specialisation in the core sectors of economy. But the new CS has a challenging task ahead as the state bureaucracy has become easy-going over the years and the big-ticket projects have been hit by time and cost overruns.
A 1977 batch IAS officer, Chaudhery spoke to assistant editor Navneet Sharma about his priorities, strategies and the shift in the balance of power in the state.
What will be your focus areas?
I have reviewed the work of all departments. Everyone needs to identify concrete action points, systematise things and become output-oriented. We have to ensure proper implementation and best use of available resources. More efficiency, transparency and accountability will be introduced with better practices and technology.
How do you plan to implement the idea?
Coordination mechanism will be strengthened by constituting coordination committees under senior officers for various sectors. The CS-rank officers will be briefed on state's priorities for quick implementation.
I am planning to introduce a Results Framework Document (RFD) on the lines of central government for each department. The RFD will reflect projects, timelines and milestones for each department.
It will be prepared by a peer group comprising sector experts, retired officers and economists and frozen after government's approval. The Right to Service may also come at some stage, but RFD will be the determining factor to improve the working of the administrative machinery.
By when will these mechanisms be put in place?
Within two months. Development plans will also be prepared for each sector, besides making a roadmap with zero-based budgeting and planning. It will be different from the state development plan, which is only owned by the person putting it together.
The state bureaucracy appears to have become lackadaisical over the past few years. How will you change this?
I don't want to sound smug and say everything is okay. But I believe in collaborative effort and recognising the contribution of everyone. Things will change.
There has been a shift in balance of power in the favour of principal secretary of chief minister over the past two decades. The office of chief secretary appears to have got marginalised in decision-making. What is your view on this?
You can take antagonistic position or make collaborative effort. Chattar Singh has been my colleague for a long time and we have to work with the same objective.
I do not see any conflict. He is of my seniority. In the Government of India, I used to work with secretary to the minister, who was a junior IAS officer. I want to make it clear that I like to keep things simple.
What about SEZs and other big-ticket projects that have been facing several issues?
The SEZs are losing their sheen. There are many critical issues. The norms are being revised. I worked on these changes in the commerce ministry. We will be now focusing on projects along the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor within the state.
The much-touted Kundli-Manesar-Palwal expressway project has missed various completion deadlines. And an impression is getting created that the concessionaire is being allowed to get away with delays.
The project needs to be pushed. I will see what best can be done.
Since you belong to a political family, people think that it will work to your advantage. What do you have to say?
It is a bit late in the day for people to think this way. My divisional commissioner had asked me about it at the time of my first posting. It is a lot easier for me to deal with this now than in the initial years.