Discrepancies reported in availing of short term training’s by civil servants

For motivation and not capacity building : In the fiscal year 2018-19, officials from 12 audited agencies had attended 4,242 short term trainings in various locations outside the country, of which 313 short term trainings were found not related to the officials’ designations or job responsibilities

Sonam Penjor

According to the Bhutan Civil Service Rule (BCSR) 2018, a civil servant requires certain procedures to be followed and documents to be submitted before availing both in-country and ex-country training.

Despite the standing rule, many cases were noted where clearances as required were not obtained for Short Term Trainings (STTs) exceeding five days.

Clause 9.3.1 of BCSR 2018 states, “The Human Resource Committee (HRC) of the agencies shall ensure that only relevant and appropriate officials are nominated for the HRD programmes.”

Further, clause states, “Civil servant shall be eligible for STT when the programme is relevant to his work and his position level”. Clause 16.2.1 of BCSR 2018 states, “Travel shall be undertaken by a civil servant only after obtaining approval from a competent authority” and Clause 16.2.6 states “All ex-country travel shall require the approval of the HRC.”

The Annual Audit Report, 2020 published by Royal Audit Authority (RAA) states that in the financial year (FY) 2018-19, a total of 113 STTs comprising 61 STTs without security clearance and 62 STTs without audit clearance were availed across 12 audited agencies.

The report further states that there were no government clearances obtained for 253 STTs.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF) executed 155 STTs without government clearances while the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA) had four cases.

Ministry of Finance (MoF) had seven cases while the Ministry of Health (MoH) had two. Finally, the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs (MoHCA) reported 16 and Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) with eight.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) has not obtained government clearance for 63 STTs availed during the FY 2018-19. However, it justified that MoFA has not documented any government clearance as the HRC approves these travels or approved by the head of the agency after comprehensive review.

“It has been practiced that subsequent office order, which is issued as per the note approval, is being used for issuance of the passport for the officials from MoFA,” the report states.

In the FY 2018-19, officials from 12 audited agencies had attended 4,242 STTs in various locations outside the country. On review of STTs availed by 2,823 officials, it was noted that 313 STTs were found not related to the officials’ designations or job responsibilities.

The RAA noted that STTs were approved based on the availability of funds, frequency of travels by officials and in some cases merely to motivate the officials and not for capacity development.

“The HRC merely formalizes the nominations without assessing competency gap with respect to job responsibilities. These indicated inadequate attention was paid to overall staff development concerns of the organization. Such practice of nominating officials without giving due regard to skills and competency gaps and relevance to job responsibilities not only undermines the training objectives but also render waste of resources,” added the report.

Further, it states that the RAA noted the cases of same course/trainings being attended by officials from different position levels. There are several instances of STTs wherein the participants composed of officials from ‘Executive, Professional and Management, Support and Operational’ position levels.

Meanwhile, the report added that such laxity from the official concerned and HR personnel indicate that the responsible authorities did not regulate STTs properly and defeats the very purpose of having control mechanisms in the form of clearances.

These clearances act as one of the tools to ensure proper assessment of the candidate’s personal records it stated.

The Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) said that these shortcomings are expected to be addressed by the new civil servant information system, Zhiyog Electronic System (ZESt).