Civil service reform hiccups

The recent civil service reform is making headlines after a group of in-service civil servants shared their dissatisfaction and even approached the Prime Minister with their grievances. The Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) justified the reform to build a professional, apolitical and meritocratic civil service.

Regular civil service reforms are necessary to fine-tune the system and keep it relevant to changing times and environment. But reforms, as always, are accompanied by challenges mostly during their implementations as some people are affected in the process and become disgruntled.

Historically, it must have been quite a challenge for the RCSC when it was established in 1982, centralising all the HR actions and applying uniform rules and regulations across all agencies that were functioning independently. Then the Cadre System in 1989 was followed by the Position Classification System (PCS) in 2006 which had its own share of challenges. Further, with the coming of the Constitution in 2008 and enactment of the Civil Service Act in 2010, the system needed alignment to the legal provisions.

We appreciate RCSC’s current reform to address stagnation faced by the majority of civil servants in the Supervisory & Support (S&S) position category. Now, for those reaching the S1 position level, the highest in the SS position category, can move up to SS1, which is four position levels higher than the current, and this translates to 20 more years of service beyond the current stagnation. For example, a diploma holder entering the civil service at S2, with regular promotions, now has more than 30 years of service without stagnation.

This will highly motivate some 11,248 civil servants belonging to the S&S category.

Otherwise, for vertical movement beyond the S1 position level, one has to come through the Bhutan Civil Service Examination (BCSE) to get into the Professional & Management position category as section 47 of the Civil Service Act of Bhutan 2010 specifies: “The Commission shall recruit university graduates through competitive examinations conducted in accordance with the procedures laid down in the BCSR for initial appointments to Professional and Management positions in Civil Service.”

However, the RCSC must hear and try to resolve the individual grievances of those affected by the reform wherever possible but not at the cost of the reform. This reform will address the stagnation issues accrued from the past reforms.

For reforms, we can ascertain wisdom and guidance from what our Fourth Druk Gyalpo said: “A good system of government that is not dependent on any individual or personalities, a system that will function efficiently because of its in-built merits, that is a legacy we must create for our future generations.”

1 reply
  1. irfan
    irfan says:

    The present RCSC has done away with the ‘certificate of eligibility’ issued to the candidates in general category who has scored the minimum cut off marks in BCSE examination without actually getting selected starting from BCSE 2014. When that happened, the reform that we are discussing now has always been an expected one. The candidates already selected through ‘certificate of eligibility’ are now remapped as P5-B and hence, all candidates selected through BCSE now starts from P&M category, but not in anyway from S1 level of S&S category. Moreover P3, P4 and P5 are replaced with SS2, SS3 and SS4 post reform.

    Only sometime back, the RCSC came up with another structural change with as many as 5 new horizontals in place if I remember it right. So, the present reform dealing with the verticals is only expected to create positive results. Still, I wish Kuensel would have provided some more information to the readers. This is regarding the number of in service candidates from S&S category who actually have appeared the preliminary exams of BCSE 2016 and cleared it to appear in the main exams.

    And if positions P5 to P3 of P&M category are replaced with SS4 to SS2 respectively with this reform, are we expecting professional graduates selected through BCSE 2016 to start their career in SS4 of S&S category? May be that I am only confused here as that shouldn’t be the case as otherwise P&M and S&S categories will get overlapped. And it’s clearly mentioned that job description and responsibilities has not been altered. In that case, do we expect selected BCSE exam professional candidates to enter P&M category in P2 level directly! It’s not the case; is it?

    But then, we all have the reasons to expect it to be a good reform to begin with. The BCSE exam now onwards is only going to be a lot more competitive for both the general and professional candidates. Either the openings for candidates will reduce in future or we expect to see Civil Service to grow horizontally also with more smaller career growth pyramids to be placed under one single big pyramid to consider. And we always expect Civil Service to be efficient, effective and optimised in size.

    One key observation that’s obvious now is that S1 level of S&S category no more has a direct entry and I also assume that there is no direct recruitment even to SS4 level. That way we are only hopeful that it may also see a reform even in the final selection process as well as procedure of BCSE exam in near future.

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