PM to meet agency heads every 3rd day of every month to discuss co-ordination issues

Yangchen C Rinzin 

A common issue in the civil service today is the lack of co-ordination among agencies that hamper work progress.

To many, the lack of co-ordination and “working in silos” has become a cliché, especially among the bureaucrats.

However, an attempt is being made to solve incoordination, according to the Cabinet Secretariat, Director, Chencho.

The first step initiated was coming up with the APA month where heads of various agencies and ministries, including ministers, attend respective agencies to prepare plans with a set of targets to achieve in the particular fiscal year.

“This is one area the prime minister is trying to strengthen on the existing APA process and give ownership to the respective agency,” Chencho said. “So, for this fiscal year, we ensured that all APAs were prepared during the APA month in presence of all the agency heads.”

It also requires that all agency heads should be in the station during the APA month. APA month is targeted to eliminate duplication in the plans.

Incoordination issues among agencies, even within the same ministry which has often led to duplication of developmental activities, was raised in almost every meeting for decades.

Chencho said that there were issues where agencies come up with different policies or laws or Acts, including rules and regulations, but often failed when it came to implementation.

“There were incidences when various plans, resources and budgets are often misaligned. But there was no accountability fixed when the agency could not deliver, as targeted in the APA,” he added.

The government now requires all agencies to have monthly APA reporting within less than two weeks every month.

This is a process where the agency can inform the government on some of the targets that cannot be achieved or require government’s intervention. The prime minister will accordingly intervene or create a mechanism to solve the issue.

In another attempt to solve incoordination, the prime minister will meet all the agency heads every third day of every month and conduct coordination meetings/consultations where all heads will discuss together the coordination required to achieve certain targets.

The prime minister has conducted co-ordination meeting twice so far.

To keep track of the developmental activities and other issues, the prime minister will also meet different agencies, including dzongkhags, thromdes, and autonomous agencies to update on APA implementation every month.

“APA month or such initiative is only to ensure that we improve the APA and not intended to do away with the initial objectives of APA formulation,” Chencho added. “We’re aiming at how robust the APA formulation needs to be by taking everyone on board while preparing APA.”

The director said that APA month would be now formalised in the APA system, which could also partly be a part of civil service reform. “Since reform can happen anywhere and anytime, we must start somewhere to solve the incoordination issues. We’re quite confident this time that there will be coordination.”

This time, the agency would be also required to align targets against only 10 key performance indicators. This is expected to keep agencies focused and prepare realistic/achievable targets.

With these initiatives, there will also be a stern year-end evaluation at both agency and individual levels.

Chencho added that the evaluation must be strict because all the plans are prepared after several coordination meetings and interventions from the prime minister. “So, they cannot give an excuse in the end that they could not achieve the plans when they were given enough time to inform the government if plans are not achievable.”

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk