The Centre has asked all the state governments to open up public service delivery system for scrutiny under the right to information law but has failed to make the central departments do the same.
The department of personnel & training (DoPT) — the government’s human resource manager — last week told central departments including the Prime Minister’s Office, President’s secretariat and the Cabinet secretariat to report back on how they had complied with the guidelines on implementation of pro-active disclosures under the transparency law.
The department — which is responsible for framing policies and guidelines under the RTI Act — had come out with detailed guidelines in April this year listing the information that they should pro-actively put out in public domain to reduce the need for people to file requests under the information law.
In a letter to all departments and other central bodies, the DoPT signalled its disappointment at the lacklustre response.
“It was mentioned that each ministry/public authority shall ensure that the guidelines for suo motu disclosure under RTI are fully operationalised within the period of 6 months from the date of their issuance i.e. 15.04.2013.
It was also requested that the action taken report on the compliance of guidelines should be sent, along with the URL link, to the DoPT and the central information commission soon after the expiry of the initial period of the 6 months.
“It has been noticed that most of the ministries/departments/public authorities have not sent the compliance report/action taken report to this department and central information commission,” Sandeep Jain, the director at DoPT — who along with former joint secretary Manoj Joshi were instrumental in drawing up the guidelines that RTI activists too had lauded — said in his December 10 memo.
But the poor response from the central departments hasn’t deterred the DoPT from hand-holding state governments towards a liberal transparency regime.
Jain’s letter came weeks after DoPT secretary SK Sarkar drew up an elaborate roadmap to help states to use pro-active disclosures to keep people abreast with the status of service delivery mechanisms.
Under this architecture, states could use the model to put every information about the public distribution system, panchayats, rural employee guarantee scheme and public schools on notice boards.