Dechen Dolkar

The electronic daily allowance and travel system (eDATS), implemented by the Ministry of Finance (MoF), has presented civil servants with a more complex and time-consuming process, according to anonymous sources within the government. The eDATS was introduced with the aim to streamline the authorisation and claims process for travel, but civil servants have expressed concerns about the increased complexity involved in claiming their travel allowances.

Previously, individual officials could create an account in the system and submit their travel claims independently. However, the new system requires Human Resource Officers (HROs) to create accounts on behalf of the officials who have traveled. This additional step has resulted in a longer and more complicated process, with officials now having to personally request HROs to create accounts for them.

In the past, the head of the agency could approve travel claims in the system without the need for additional documentation after approval from the Human Resource Committee (HRC). 

The updated system now requires an office order to create an account, adding another layer of bureaucracy. This change has been met with dissatisfaction from civil servants who find the process burdensome and time-consuming for both themselves and the HROs involved.

Recognising these concerns, HROs have asked the Ministry of Finance and the Royal Civil Service Commission to re-evaluate the system, highlighting the difficulties they face in creating and approving accounts for every official who has traveled.

MoF officials acknowledged the feedback and assured that they are reviewing the system. 

The modifications were initially made to minimise potential abuses, as in the past, any head of a division could approve claims without much oversight. 

The ministry aims to strike a balance by making the system more flexible and user-friendly. 

After the review, it has been decided that administrative office assistants, HR assistants, and personal assistants will be granted approval authority, alongside access given to the agency’s accountant.

Additionally, individual officials who have traveled will once again be allowed to create accounts and apply for travel claims independently.

Another concern raised by civil servants is the requirement for travel tour approval through the Human Resource Committee (HRC), which they claim hinders their work plans. 

Previously, officials could proceed with travel plans after receiving approval from the head of the department through a note sheet. However, under the new system, travel plans must go through the HRC meeting of the agency. If a travel plan is rejected in the HRC meeting, it can cause delays in the officials’ work plans, as the next available meeting may be weeks away. The HRC meeting is currently held twice a month.

Civil servants have expressed frustration that rejected travel plans result in the budget being returned to the Ministry of Finance, potentially impacting funding for the next financial year.

The Ministry of Finance is working to ensure that the eDATS system strikes the right balance between efficiency and administrative requirements, while minimising delays and complexity for civil servants.