'Babus must set high standards for themselves' | delhi | Hindustan Times
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'Babus must set high standards for themselves'

Takes critical view of yearly performance targets adopted by Central ministries. Chetan Chauhan writes. Other suggestions on governance

delhi Updated: Sep 17, 2012 01:18 IST
Chetan Chauhan

Indian bureaucracy expects high performance from others and lax from itself, the planning commission's 12th plan document claims.

Taking a critical view of the Result Framework Document (RFD) on yearly performance targets adopted by different Central ministries and departments, the plan panel said the targets are often kept at very moderate levels by ministries.

"This defeats the purpose of developing a document which can ensure physical progress consistent with the needs of the economy," the plan section on governance said. "Unless the targets are kept at a challenging level, the document is likely to give a wrong picture of the departments, and its accountability."

The Cabinet secretariat had introduced RFD after the UPA came back to power in 2009 to ensure bureaucratic "accountability". The secretaries with divisional heads are required to set yearly performance targets for different sections of ministries. Performance in RFD is one of the parameters to judge a babu's annual career progress.

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The plan panel, which reviewed performance of several ministries against RFD targets, believes that the bureaucrats deliberately keep targets at low or moderate levels, so there is no difficulty in achieving them.

The panel has cautioned against the approach and had asked the departments to make realistic RFDs. It also wants the RFDs to reflect the outcome in true sense and should make bureaucrats get incentives to meet the targets.

Another key element missing from RFD, the panel said, was the outcomes from citizens' and stakeholders perspective. "By ensuring a broad range of well-managed consultations to determine goals, extensive accountability can be brought about," the document said.

Suggesting a key change in RFD, it wants the documents to cover performance of a sector, cutting across ministries.