The Bihar government is planning to set up a new chief minister’s office that will open up governance to professionals outside the system in a bid to fast track chief minister Nitish Kumar’s development schemes.
Being drafted on the lines of the Prime Minister’s Office, the ‘participatory’ model will welcome talent from outside the existing government eco-system without creating a parallel system. The focus will be on the delivery mechanism at the grassroots to bring about improvement in the socio-economic indices, a promise that Kumar’s government has been struggling to deliver on.
Insiders say it will complement the objective of finding best possible solutions by drawing on professionals from different fields.
Poll strategist Prashant Kishore will pilot the change for the first five years through the chief minister’s pet project Bihar Vikas Mission, “the special purpose vehicle” set up to implement Kumar’s key poll promises.
The new CMO will have around 1,500 professionals – young or retired – for a specific period to work as force multipliers and provide much-needed background support.
The existing administrative system, headed by the chief secretary and comprising department secretaries, district magistrates and others, will continue work as they do, while the mission will trouble-shoot for them.
“In over 69 years, barely 3% people in Bihar could get piped drinking water. Now, the challenge is to take it to 100% in five years. The challenges are similar in other spheres. Despite improvement in power sector, a lot needs to be done to take it to all households. The mission, therefore, has seven buckets for CM’s seven resolves, which will pool in all possible resources to translate his vision into reality,” said an expert involved in the process.
Some resistance however is being expected from government officials who may not see the new system as support for effective and timely implementation of policies.
“The mission is just a facilitating body to complement the existing system, not to confront. But yes, it is a novel initiative, as opening up governance to new talent outside the system is unheard of in India, and will be a challenge, but it is worth taking. CM has been talking to senior officials himself,” said a government functionary.