KP Sharma

In response to the evolving dynamics of the contemporary work landscape and in line with the evolving expectations of civil servants, the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) is presently engaged in a comprehensive review of the Bhutan Civil Service Rules 2018.

As part of this initiative, the commissioners of the RCSC are leading a series of consultative meetings held across the country. These meetings are designed to gather valuable inputs and suggestions from civil servants, an essential step in facilitating much-needed revision.

The revised civil service rules could potentially be implemented in the tenure of the upcoming commission or even before, as the current commission is set to conclude its term in April 2024.

The timing of this review is significant, given the growing number of civil servants who have expressed their concerns about the existing system. These individuals have criticised it for its perceived rigidity, lack of friendliness, and inadequate leadership, all of which contribute to a challenging work environment.

Critics argue that the system, including the Individual Work Plan (IWP), is overly ambitious, leading to an excessive and inequitable workload that can demoralise civil servants and hamper service delivery.

In response to these concerns, an RCSC official has stated that the implementation of the Performance Management System (PMS) has shown promise in effectively managing the system, particularly in terms of enhancing service delivery and addressing detrimental practices within the organisation.

However, there may not be sufficient empirical evidence to substantiate this claim.

The official clarified that the culture of performance management is nurtured through transparent, open, and well-defined communication regarding both expectations and achievements. Regular performance check-ins provide employees with a continuous stream of information, fostering professional development and improved performance.

Despite its effectiveness in holding employees accountable for their responsibilities, the official acknowledged that specific rules within the current framework might be rigid and less adaptable to the current context.

These concerns have also been raised by retired civil servants.

According to the RCSC official, this review has been initiated with the intention of addressing the current issues within the system and transforming it into a more favourable and supportive environment for civil servants.

The official also pointed out that some of the rules may have become problematic over time due to their enactment many years ago, underscoring the necessity for a comprehensive review.

In an effort to tackle issues related to inadequate leadership within government agencies, the RCSC has launched awareness and support services geared toward leaders, including school principals. The commissioners hold regular video conferences with these leaders to enhance their leadership capabilities.

RCSC encourages civil servants to provide constructive feedback on the system or raise any other concerns, either through its website or by reaching out directly through social media platforms. This channel of communication aims to ensure that the voices and perspectives of civil servants are heard and considered throughout this vital review process.