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5-Day Deadline for Top Bureaucrats to 'Improve Work Culture'

Top bureaucrats of the country have been given a five-day deadline to implement Prime Minister Narendra Modi's directive for improving the work culture in the central government, including repeal of "archaic" processes and reducing decision-making layers.

The deadline for the secretaries to provide a plan of action expires tomorrow.

The instructions were issued by Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth on June 5 as a follow up to the meeting that Modi held with the top bureacrats last Wednesday during which he said the rules which create hurdles in speedy decision-making should be done away with.

The circular, issued by Seth, carries 11 points which lay stress on efficient and speedy decision-making in a transparent manner.

"I expect you to act upon these immediately and indicate a plan of action latest by June 9," the Cabinet Secretary's circular said.

It asks each department to "identify and repeal at least 10 rules or processes and even archaic acts that are redundant and would not lead to any loss of efficiency".

Every department has been asked to identify forms that are in vogue and shorten them, where possible, to one page only, the circular says, adding seeking of "unnecessary or irrelevant information should be discouraged".

All departments have been asked to reduce decision-making to a "maximum of four layers".

The circular says files and papers should be weeded out in accordance with the rules of record-keeping, including digitisation, wherever necessary and the exercise should be completed in 3-4 weeks.

Each department should work out modalities of fulfilling promises made to the people and effective and timely resolution of public grievances must be ensured and monitored by the secretaries of departments concerned, according to the directive.

The circular also instructs the secretaries that the "goals set for the period 2009-14", the UPA-II tenure, and their present status should be analysed and information about the same should be provided to the prime minister by the secretaries in their presentation.

Emphasising the need for team work and collaborative decision-making, it says that if any issues remain unresolved, the intervention of the cabinet secretary or the PMO should be sought for resolution.

It also underlines the need for usage of Information Technology and e-governance in the functioning of the ministries.

The directive also lays emphasis on clean and hygienic environment in offices for creating a "positive work environment".

All government buildings and work spaces of departments should be cleared of obstructions and spruced up, says the letter. In pursuance of this goal, passages and stairs should be cleared of obstructions, which means no office material or cupboards should be found in these spaces.

Modi, while holding a meeting collectively with 77 secretaries and senior officers of all the ministries and departments here on June 4, had asked them to take decisions and promised to stand by them.

Expressing full faith in their commitment and competence to build a better future for the country, he asked them to simplify and streamline administrative rules and procedures to make them people-friendly.

He said that "there may be rules and processes which have become outdated, and instead of serving the process of governance, they are leading to avoidable confusion" and stressed upon the need to "identify and do away with such archaic rules and procedures".

Promising to be accessible to all officers, he encouraged them to approach him with their "inputs and ideas".

Also, on Modi's directions, a special drive was started today to clean the offices of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) at North Block here.

The drive is aimed at creating a healthy work environment for the staff in the two key departments by getting rid of clutter and weeding out old and unwanted files, officials said.

The staff in both the departments have been told to keep their working space clean.

Besides, senior officials in the MHA and DoPT will be ensuring that their subordinates work in neat and clean offices, a DoPT official said.

There are certain offices where construction material is lying for years. In some office premises, unused vehicles are also parked.

The department secretaries will be making sure that no such vehicles or building materials are lying around, he said.

Also, there will be regular visits by senior officials of the MHA and DoPT to ensure that the cleanliness drive is not stopped midway.

Recently, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions Jitendra Singh visited the offices and sections under them.

Both ministers interacted with the officials and directed the authorities to ensure clean working spaces.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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