Ministries pitch proposals for work-from-home framework
Over two subsequent review meetings on Wednesday and Thursday, the department received feedback from nearly 80 ministries and departments for the draft proposal pitched on May 13.Updated: May 23, 2020 03:52 IST
Three days of work from the office and two days from home, reduced childcare leave and Make in India laptops for government employees are among the suggestions the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG) has received for its work-from-home framework in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.
Over two subsequent review meetings on Wednesday and Thursday, the department received feedback from nearly 80 ministries and departments for the draft proposal pitched on May 13.
“Two meetings were held where feedback has been received from over 110 stakeholders,” a senior official who was part of the meetings said on condition of anonymity . “The data will be analysed before a final policy is decided, but most are in favour of work-from-home for at least some time now.”
According to the DARPG Twitter handle, the department’s additional secretary V Srinivas chaired the second interministerial meeting, comprising representatives from 37 ministries, on Thursday.
“The Information and Technology ministry has suggested an alternate day week, that is, three days from office and two days work from home,” the senior official cited above said.
On Monday, the Department of Personnel and Training issued instructions for alternate day work weeks with 50% attendance and staggered timings for officials and staff below the rank of deputy secretary.
“A recommendation of reduced childcare leave, as most officials are working from home and Make in India laptops has also been made,” said a second official.
Encryption for laptops, time discipline and a dress code were also discussed at the meeting. “We also talked about creating a small office space at home,” said the first official.
The department is waiting for a response from the ministry of home affairs on security features because a number of confidential documents may have to be accessed remotely.
“We have recommended that office laptops be used as they are encrypted,” a DARPG official said, adding that the use of private laptops is also being discussed.
A further response from the Department of Expenditure is also awaited as financial sanctions need to be sought to provide reimbursement for data usage by the officials, a recommendation made in the work-from-home framework.
The official added that various logistics have to be worked out, including creating a support inventory such as cloud space for files and determining the level to which the virtual private network will be extended.
The draft proposal had recommended moving files to the digital platform, e-office, which has been the fulcrum of all government work during the Covid-19 lockdown. However, it suggested that the National Informatics Centre and MHA evaluate existing security protocols to remotely access classified files.
It also asked that the ministries and departments consider allowing eligible officers and other staff to work from home for 15 days a year as a policy decision for the future.
“The response has been very encouraging,” said the DARPG official. “We have received comprehensive comments and the overall push is to continue to work from home.”