Babudom could soon get lessons on the virtues of transparency and open government.
The Modi government has decided to accept five recommendations made by a panel of two former chief information commissioners AN Tiwari and MM Ansari on the steps to be taken to raise the transparency bar.
The panel not only advocated a better compliance of proactive disclosures but also indicated that many employees were not really convinced about the virtues of transparency and needed lessons to change their approach.
In a directive to all departments last month, the department of personnel and training director Sandeep Jain said the government had decided to accept the recommendation.
“All training modules for professional upgradation of employees should incorporate matter relating to the virtues of transparency, open government and RTI law,” Jain said.
The government has also accepted recommendations that requires departments to pro-actively put out information in a manner that is user friendly.
“This is a welcome step,” Ansari told HT, responding to the government decision.
Jain also advised public authorities with high public dealings to put in place an effective system to redress grievances so that people running around to get their problems resolved didn’t have to invoke their right to information.
If the handling of public grievances improved, Jain reasoned, it would reduce the burden of serving RTI applications in departments that have a significant interface with the public.
Similarly, the government has also backed suggestions that information relating to recruitment, promotion and transfers should be promptly placed in public domain.
But there is a view that classroom lessons wouldn’t bring about the attitudinal changes within babudom unless the political leadership and senior civil servants demonstrated a commitment to transparency.
“Till the senior civil servants send the right signals, lip-service certainly will not help the cause of transparency,” a government official said.
Not surprisingly, Jain’s communication was silent on the panel’s recommendation that required departments to carry out a transparency audit of the information that was put out by them under the Right to Information Act.
In its guidelines issued in 2013, DoPT too had advised other departments to get such an audit conducted from external agencies but did not practice what it had preached.