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High standards for others low for babus

Indian bureaucracy expects high performance from others and less from itself, the planning commission's 12th plan document claims.

delhi Updated: Sep 16, 2012 12:32 IST
Chetan Chauhan

Indian bureaucracy expects high performance from others and less from itself, the planning commission's 12th plan document claims.

Taking a critical view of Result Framework Document (RFD) on yearly performance targets adopted by different Central ministries and departments, the plan panel said the targets are often kept at a very moderate levels by the ministries.

"This defeats the purpose of developing a document which can ensure physical progress consistent with the needs of the economy," the plan section on governance said. "Unless the targets are kept at a challenging level, the document is likely to give a wrong picture of the departments, and its accountability," the plan said.

The Cabinet secretariat had introduced RFD after the UPA came back to power in 2009 to ensure bureaucratic "accountablity". The secretaries with divisional heads are required to set yearly performance targets for different sections of the ministry. The performance in RFD is one of the parameters to judge a babu's annual career progress, the RFD base paper had said.

The plan panel, which reviewed performance of several ministries against the RFD targets, is of the view that the bureaucrats have deliberately kept the targets at low or moderate levels so that there is no difficulty in achieving them.

The panel has cautioned against the approach and had asked the departments to make realistic RFDs. It also wants the RFDs to reflect the outcome in true senses and should make bureaucrats get incentives to meet the targets.

Other suggestions on governance
* No accountability of individual regulators, most of who are former IAS officers
* Bureaucrats lack pro-active information dissemination approach, needed in 24 into 7 social media culture
* Consultation with people is not considered necessary, which needs to change and effort should be made to build consensus
* Lack of innovation as babus fear to deviate from prescribed rules
*Adopt Total Quality Management as done by countries such as Japan.

Another key element missing from RFD, the panel said, was the outcomes from citizens' and stakeholders perspective. "By ensuring a broad range of well-managed consultations to determine goals, 'extensive accountablity' can be brought about," the 12 plan document said.

Suggesting a key change in RFD, the plan wants the documents to cover performance of a sector, cutting across different ministries, rather than just one department to provide better accountability mode.