Soon after the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) lifted the freeze on lateral transfer of Gewog Administrative Officer, at least 10 GAOs have already applied elsewhere.

Of the 10 applicants, three have been selected and expected to join new agencies by next month. RCSC on November 14 through a notification lifted the almost two year long freeze of their lateral transfer.

One of the GAOs who applied in another agency soon after the lift said the notification came as a relief. Although the position of GAO was not frustrating, not being able to apply elsewhere when attractive positions were announced unlike other civil servants was disappointing.

“Our position is considered critical but depriving us of opportunities was not fair,” one of the GAOs said. “Sitting in one position for over a decade is tiring.”

Another GAO who recently got selected as a trade officer in Thimphu said that although he was not waiting for the RCSC to lift the restriction, it was a coincidence that two days after the notification, he saw a vacancy. “I was the lone candidate and got selected,” he said.

He however, said that he applied for the position not because he was frustrated with the post of GAO.  It is his 11th year as a GAO and has served in about four gewogs. “As a GAO we learn to multitask and is an exceptionally good job,” he said.

The lift came following several complaints from GAOs on not being allowed to move from one position.  It was learnt that many GAO applied for posts elsewhere and got selected but were denied of the No Objection Certificate during the freeze period.

Following proposal from the human resource committee of the home ministry, beginning this year RCSC has started recruiting five Post Graduate Diploma in Public Administration graduates for the position of GAO.

Home ministry officials said that in the past, the GAO attrition rate was high and RCSC could not find replacement. Post of a GAO being considered critical could not be left vacant for long. “It is a standalone position with a lone civil servant in the gewog and no one can replace them,” one of the officials said.

Today, the human resource officers of the ministry are engaged full time in attending meetings related to the GAO position.

Of the 205 gewogs, at least 15 gewogs are without GAOs. About 32 GAOs are on two-year contract. But they are not entitled to any contract allowance besides a basic pay of Nu 16,365 and housing allowance.

“Possibly within a month we’ll announce vacancy and recruit people to fill vacant GAO posts,” an official said.  All GAO positions will be filled prior to implementation of the 12th Plan.

Nirmala Pokhrel