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Not long ago, when a civil servant, especially at the executive level, is asked to report to the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC), there is only one reason. It means she or he had not been doing well. The call to report is a serious threat.

Recently, the commission recalled the Trongsa dzongdag. The reason, the commission cited was to do with some policy issues. It failed to convince both people of Trongsa and many closely following the issue. Dzongdag is a respected post. Recalling a dzongdag to RCSC reminds people of the old days.

The commission had been unclear in its justification why the chief executive of a dzongkhag was recalled. This left room for people to speculate and feed the rumour mill. In the dzongkhags, the “Dasho Dzongdag” is a prominent figure and anything related to him raises the curiosity level.

The commission is not doing any good by dodging questions from the media or not being transparent in their answers. The reasons could be related to policy issues, but discreetly asking the official to pack up and report to the commission and stating he might be appointed to an appropriate position, if there is one, leaves room for speculation. And we know how Bhutanese are good at speculating.

If it is because of alleged complacency and inefficiency, the commission should make it transparent by instituting an inquiry and also providing a fair chance for the dzongdag to explain. If the allegations are true, the commission should take stern action. This will send out strong message to civil servants that the commission will not tolerate any complacency or inefficiency. They have all the right to do so.

The same commission that nominated the dzongdag in 2018 cannot cite a policy. People are demanding answers on why they didn’t refer the policy before nominating him and if he landed in the superstructure category out of the blue. It shows RCSC’s total lack of accountability to the public. It reveals another unfortunate reality of how the commission with a vision of ‘excellence in service’ functions.

Civil service is an important institution. Their efficiency determines service delivery. Our bureaucracy functioned differently in the past in a different system. Today, there is demand of transparency and accountability. Lack of transparency and accountability causes administrative delays and red tapes in the system, which impedes public service delivery.

As a small developing nation that still depends on our civil servants to provide basic services to the people, it is must that we have efficient, committed and responsive civil servants. Inefficient and ineffective services will erode public confidence.

If our bureaucracy should evolve and reform, it can start by being accountable and transparent to its people. There is a call on the civil service to reform and the lockdown has provided as the perfect time to reflect on our shortcomings and opportunities.

The general consensus is that it should be efficient, if keeping it small or compact is difficult.

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