RCSC: The Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) could be on the slow but right track in keeping a small, compact and efficient civil service.

Over the last four years, the growth of civil service reduced from 6.63 percent in 2010 to 4 percent in 2014. And with the reduction in growth, the commission is looking at ascertaining the ideal growth rate of civil service.

As of December last year, there were 26,320 civil servants, including those on contract, according to the RCSC annual statistics 2014. Of this, 25,358 were regular civil servants and 962 on contract.

RCSC Chairperson Karma Tshiteem said the ideal growth rate could be ascertained only after the commission gets the ideal size that in turn must be informed from periodic organisational development (OD) exercise. “At the end of the present OD exercise, we will have a clear idea of the ideal size of civil service for the next three to five years, other things remaining the same,” he said.

Once the RCSC has an idea of the ideal size required to deliver the government’s mandate, he said the commission would strive to maintain those same ratio as a measure of efficiency and effectiveness.

Statistics show that civil servants constitute 3.53 percent of the country’s total population as of the end of last year. This means there is one civil servant for every 28 people.

In certain areas, the Chairperson said, the government still faces shortages such as doctors and in the supervisory and support categories. “We have excess people that we are now going to train and redeploy.”

Only 34 percent of the civil servants are female, according to the report. The present commission, therefore, recognised that civil service working conditions must be more “gender sensitive” and so the changes made will attract and retain females in the civil service.

“Around half of the population are female, this (gender disparity) is something that must be addressed sooner than later,” Karma Tshiteem said.

The commission is also exploring how to make civil service conditions favourable to young parents and single parents. He described the issue as new realities on the ground that the commission cannot afford to ignore.

One of the proposals under discussion, he said, is to allow either parent to take parental leave with half pay until the child turns one.

Meanwhile, the commission has announced 434 vacancies for graduates for training in various institutions. There are 210 vacancies in technical field, 148 in post-graduate diploma (PGD) in education and 76 PDGs in education, public administration, and national law.

The chairperson said that the best and the brightest would be absorbed so that the quality of the stock of civil servants keeps improving. In particular, the commission is looking at the needs in terms of short term versus long term and the strategy is to use “contract” recruitment for all short term needs.

He believes that recruitment of regular should be for only delivering core functions over the long term.

On the controversial preliminary exams (PE), he said it will continue. The commission is, however, looking at ways to improve it.”

“The objective of the Bhutan Civil Service Examinations (BCSE) is to filter and get the best and the brightest.” He said cost was also a factor, but added that is a secondary consideration as to why RCSC will continue with PE.

During the last six years, the civil service recorded a growth of 32 percent from 2008 to 2014. The civil service strength in 2008 was 19,848.

The statistics also reveal that the number of civil servants placed under local governments have increased steadily over the years both in dzongkhag and thromde administrations.

In 2010, slightly over 54 percent of the civil servants were under local governments, but the percentage of civil servants placed under local governments crossed 57 percent of the total civil servants.

The average age of civil servants in executive and specialist services is 50.

By MB Subba