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With the creation of more government agencies, maintaining a small, compact and efficient civil service has become a daunting challenge for the Royal Civil Service Commission, its annual report 2017-2018 states.

There were 28,973 civil servants in the country as of June this year including 3,195 on contract.

The civil servant to population ratio of 1:25 is relatively large when compared to such ratios of other countries.

The commission has cited increasing government mandates. For instance, the commission stated that it has to provide early childhood care and development facilitators for child care support at the ratio of one facilitator to 15 children in 273 centres in the dzongkhags.

With these pressures, optimising human resources is expected to remain a constant challenge especially at a time when the civil service, in general, is seen as a better or the best option to deliver most of the public services, the commission report stated.

The civil servant to population ratio for Gasa is 1:14, high compared to the national ratio. There is no way that the commission can improve ratio, as public service delivery must be provided equally irrespective of the size of the dzongkhag.

Other mounting challenges come from the proliferation of mandatory positions from various Acts governing institutions,   poor performance management, empire building attitude, compartmentalised mindset, non-realisation of financial implications and sentiments attached to redundant positions.

The growth of the civil service has significant pressure on the government exchequer. According to the annual financial statement, 2016-17, 38.6 per cent of the recurrent budget was used to meet the pay and allowances or personnel cost for maintaining the civil service.

However, the commission makes efforts to contain the growth of civil service, in terms of numbers, through limiting structural expansion using agencification framework, local government common framework, optimising human resources through multitasking, re-skilling, performance and accountability enhancement programmes, streamlining processes and service standards, organisation development exercise, building capabilities to address skills and mindset gaps and by adopting contract recruitment for time-bound projects and programmes which are generally short-term HR requirements.

Today, there are 276 civil servants in the executive and specialist category. The professional and management category grew more than three times from 4,513 in 2003 to 13,889 this year. This category also makes up almost half the civil service (47.94 per cent). Support and supervisory category comes next with 12,464 employees.

The commission puts additional requests for staff under great scrutiny. “If numbers are large, the option of contract staff is given in order to assess workload and seasonality of the job before providing or approving more permanent positions,” the commission’s report stated.

The commission, in general, commits to keeping 10 percent of the civil servants on contract for flexibility.

“However, going forward, with the increasing population, changing socio-economic and political environment, and the emergence of new technologies, even these approaches may have to be reviewed periodically,” the commission stated.

The civil service grew by 92.51 per cent between September 2003, with 15,050 civil servants, and June 2018. In the fiscal year 2016-17 alone it marked a growth of 4.8 percent.

The fiscal year 2015-16 marked the largest drop in its growth. That year the RCSC froze recruitment for non-critical positions, rationalised agencies including divisions, and merged positions to ensure optimum workload and redeployment from the existing stock of employees.

Tshering Palden

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