The babus in North and South Blocks, the seat of the government, are back to school. They are now taking lessons on how to be more forthcoming with details on new programmes and schemes approved by the Cabinet.
Earlier, the bureaucrats were less than forthcoming with details— lest they are accused of parting with more details than needed.
Realising that the new government’s major decisions aren’t generating much publicity, Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar has circulated a template among all secretaries detailing what should be included in the press briefs on decisions taken by the Cabinet or the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs.
These briefs will now explain the decisions with point-wise details, background, implementation strategy and targets, major impact, experience involved, number of beneficiaries, states and districts covered, details and progress of schemes already running.
In fact, the briefs were made mandatory during the Vajpaye government’s regime in 2002.
In October last year, the secretaries were told what elements should go into making the press briefs.
All proposals sent to the Cabinet Secretariat for inclusion in the agenda for Union Cabinet and the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) had to be accompanied by a draft press brief, which was to be released once the decisions were taken.
Without mincing words, Chandrasekhar said the briefs sent to his office often lacked details. He reminded the secretaries that all press briefs should be duly approved at a senior level before they are sent to him.
He also sent to them a press brief on a recent CCEA decision on rejuvenation of coconut gardens in Kerala as a sample brief for clarity in communication.
Chandrasekhar told his colleagues “a clearly worded press brief acts as a powerful tool for effective dissemination of the policies and programmes of the government to the public.”
He said many press briefs about the proposals going before the Cabinet or Cabinet Committees do not bring out “essence of the proposals or highlight the details about their possible impact, implementation strategy, targets and benefits expected to be achieved through programmes and schemes.”