More than 300 employees haven’t logged on to the biometric attendance system installed four months ago at the Home Ministry offices in Delhi, prompting Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram to wonder if his department has ghost employees.
Chidambaram has sought reports from the heads of the 18-odd divisions at the ministry on employees not registering their attendance on the system and the possibility of ghost employees under their charge.
The move comes after a review of the attendance system revealed that it recorded a maximum of 1,223 employees over the last four months. But the government pays salaries to 1,549 employees every month.
Chidambaram also noticed that the number of employees marking their attendance declined in that period: from 1,223 in September 2009, when the system was installed, to 1,087 in December.
The minister’s first inference was that some employees were “chronically not complying with the directions” to mark their attendance.
“The other inference, which I hope is not true, is that there are ghost employees drawing salaries but not physically working here,” he observed in an internal note.
The biometric attendance system at the Municipal Corporation of Delhi had also hinted at the possibility of over 22,800 ghost employees in the body last year. But an internal inquiry accounted for every employee on its rolls.
A ministry official said he did not believe “ghost employees” could survive in the high-security establishment, and that it is probably a case of chronic latecomers trying to duck the system.
They could be in trouble.
“We have been quite indulgent and tolerant for four months,” Chidambaram said in the note, listing out corrective measures to be taken. “Now, we will have to take firmer measures to enforce punctuality and use the biometric system.”