Kashiraj Dahal: Civil Service Reform Blueprint of Nepal

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Kashiraj Dahal, the former chairperson of the Administrative Court, served as the coordinator of the Administrative Reform Suggestion Committee formed in 2012. Additionally, he led two separate high-level committees—the Administrative Reform Implementation Monitoring Committee and the Federal Administrative Restructuring Committee—from 2014 to 2020.

The cornerstone for implementing state policies, laws, plans, and programs lies within government public administration. A weakened administration impedes the establishment of an outcome-driven state system. To address this, public administration must prioritize both people-centric and results-oriented approaches. Achieving this necessitates a multifaceted, proficient, and skilled administrative body capable of providing informed counsel and guidance to the government.

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Inclusion in constitution

To transform public administration into a people-oriented, results-driven, politically impartial, competent, and professional entity, it is essential to embed the fundamental values of public administration outlined in the constitution. Additionally, incorporating the core principles of good governance into the constitutional framework is crucial. This includes provisions to enhance the effectiveness of constitutional bodies, address key aspects of local governance, and integrate fundamental matters related to public administration, such as empowerment and fortification of security agencies. Moreover, ensuring a robust foreign policy can be part of these constitutional considerations.

Promotions and transfers

Civil service promotions should adhere to a structured approach, initially based on seniority (Batch Promotion) and continuing until individuals are on a negative list. Transfers, promotions, and career advancements must follow predictable paths grounded in scientific and objective criteria. Reevaluating the criteria for appointing chief secretaries and secretaries is vital, emphasizing attributes like decision-making and leadership skills, financial administration proficiency, a clean image, and high moral conduct. Such a merit-based system ensures transparent and fair career progression, fostering capable leaders in the civil service.

Retirement age

The life expectancy of Nepalis has increased and hence a reform is required in the current age limit framework by establishing a retirement age of 60 in the civil service, aligning with international practices. Introduce voluntary retirement options for those not promoted within a designated period. Transition to inter-service competitions for higher positions, veering away from the proven inadequacies of open competitions. This strategic overhaul ensures a more synchronized and effective civil service structure, accommodating global standards, promoting timely career progression, and fostering a dynamic workforce.

Trade unions

Evaluate the influence of employee trade unions and reform the system to ensure their operation is focused on thematic and professional matters. Streamline the process by allowing only one official trade union determined through elections. Enforce a code of conduct for trade union officials, emphasizing transparency by publicizing the list of affiliated employees. Legal measures should be taken if any members are found to have political affiliations, reinforcing the trade union’s commitment to non-partisan engagement and promoting a more accountable and responsible workforce.

Review inclusion practices

Implement diversity management in the civil service, ensuring targeted benefits after a thorough analysis of the impact of inclusion practices on the administrative system. Establish a policy preventing multiple benefits of inclusion for individuals within the same family. This strategy fosters fair and equitable opportunities while mitigating the potential for undue advantages. By strategically managing diversity, the civil service can enhance inclusivity, maintain transparency, and uphold principles of equal access to opportunities within the organizational framework.

E-governance

Enhance administrative agility and optimize service delivery by cultivating a technology-friendly environment in public administration. Embrace the principles of e-governance, integrating information technology to streamline processes and improve efficiency. This transition not only fosters a more responsive administration but also empowers citizens with seamless access to services. Embracing technological advancements aligns with contemporary practices, ensuring a modernized and effective public administration that meets the evolving needs of both the government and the public it serves.

Zero tolerance against corruption

Empower anti-corruption institutions like the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) to bolster their effectiveness. Instill a zero-tolerance policy against corruption, ensuring the unyielding pursuit and apprehension of wrongdoers. Controlling corruption is contingent on the unwavering commitment of political parties. Without their collective willpower, achieving a corruption-free environment remains challenging. Strengthening anti-corruption bodies and fostering a united political resolve are pivotal in the relentless pursuit of eradicating corruption and promoting transparency within the governance framework.

Service at remote areas

Prioritize employees in remote areas to enhance effective service delivery. Introduce conditions for promotion eligibility tied to a specified duration of service in remote regions, encouraging a commitment to these challenging areas. Recognize and reward long-term service in remote locations through awards, fostering dedication and motivation. Augment remote allowances to acknowledge and compensate for the unique challenges faced by employees in such areas. This approach not only ensures fairness in career advancement but also incentivizes sustained contributions to public service in remote and often underserved regions.

Meeting SDGs

In the face of the formidable challenge of achieving the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the nation requires a swift response to cultivate both politically astute leaders and capable public administrations. This urgency stems from the need to collaboratively confront and address the complex issues posed by the SDGs. By nurturing a cadre of leaders skilled in navigating political landscapes and empowering proficient public administrations, the nation can enhance its capacity to effectively meet these ambitious global targets within the stipulated time frame.

Conclusion

Above mentioned crucial initiatives are necessary to fortify the foundations of public administration. By embedding fundamental values in the constitution, adopting merit-based promotion and retirement age reforms, fostering transparency in trade unions, embracing diversity management, and prioritizing technological integration, the proposed changes aim to create an agile, accountable, and efficient civil service. These measures are essential for addressing contemporary challenges, meeting SDGs, and fostering a committed workforce. Implementing this blueprint requires collective dedication from political entities, signaling a pivotal step towards a robust and responsive civil service.

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