BCSR revamped both in volume and content

The revised BCSR 2023 will protect contract staff’s seniority if they successfully pass the Bhutan Civil Service Examination (BCSE) and can enter the civil service as regular staff in their own Super Structure.

The new and updated Bhutan Civil Service Rule (BCSR) 2023 came into being and was implemented from December 17 this year with changes both in terms of its volume and content.

According to the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC), the size of the BCSR was reduced to 19 chapters with 267 pages from 27 chapters and 482 pages. The reduction was made by removing the bulky procedural aspects to the human resource (HR) manual for use by HR personnel, while maintaining only the key policy provisions in the BCSR.

“This should make BCSR 2023 more user friendly for civil servants,” the Commission stated.

A significant change in the BCSR 2023 is the policy decision to bifurcate the general rules from the guidelines so that agencies will experience greater flexibility in procedural HR matters by including it in the guidelines.

Amongst others, some of the pertinent changes in provisions include increasing the talent pool to expand and diversify the pool of skilled personnel, enhancing civil service motivation and career progression and career extension opportunities.

In addition, the change in the BCSR 2023 also includes improving HR service delivery and greater delegation to agencies to enhance efficiency, effectiveness, and responsiveness of HR functions.

An important aspect of the revised BCSR 2023 will protect contract staff’s seniority if they successfully pass the Bhutan Civil Service Examination (BCSE) and can enter the civil service as regular staff in their own Super Structure.

The BCSR 2023 will also enhance provisions for contract staff such as increased contract duration, access to short term ex-country training and medical escort leave and will allow re-entry into the civil service for separated civil servants based on vacancy and requirement for their specific competencies.

To serve at least 6 months after availing short term training before resigning were also introduced and similarly, BCSR 2023 has also introduced the requirement to serve a minimum of two years after appointment through lateral transfer in order to be eligible for another lateral transfer. Further, transfer benefits will be eligible only after completing five years of service in the same place of posting, according to the new revised BCSR 2023.

According to the Commission, the work to revise the BCSR began formally with a series of meetings with agencies across the country in April and May 2023, wherein the members of the Commission met with civil servants to raise awareness of the civil service reforms and to seek feedback on the BCSR 2018. Over 4,000 civil servants participated in these meetings.

Similarly, the first draft of the BCSR 2023 was shared with the civil servants in September, followed by consultation meetings in all agencies including Local Government administrations.

A total of 2700 civil servants participated in the consultations on the draft BCSR including comments being received via the online platform. Furthermore, in October 2023, civil servants were also given the opportunity to provide their views on the BCSR through the online link on the RCSC’s website.

According to the RCSC, the revision of the BCSR 2023 aims at upholding meritocracy, transparency, and professionalism in the civil service while ensuring currency of the BCSR. It also endeavors to enhance responsiveness and service delivery by streamlining and rationalizing HR functions.

Simultaneously, it empowers agencies through the delegation of key HR functions and flexibility in HR processes and procedures, according to the Commission.

The revised BCSR 2023 is an exercise of the powers conferred by Chapter XI, Section 87 of the Civil Service Act of Bhutan 2010,

The chapter XI under Miscellaneous Provisions of section 87 states, ‘The Commission shall make rules and regulations called the Bhutan Civil Service Rules and Regulations (or the BCSR), for effective administration of the Civil Service in consultation with agencies.’

RCSC during its 210th Commission Meeting held on 12 December 2023 approved the BCSR 2023, which is the 8th edition in the series of reforms made over the years.

Meanwhile, with the revision, RCSC anticipates greater clarity of policies and processes not only for administrators and supervisors but also for individual civil servants facilitating a better understanding of the HR system within which the civil servants are expected to operate and function.

Sherab Dorji from Thimphu