RCSC rolls out new SCS performance management framework

RCSC Urges Productivity, Public Interest, and Leadership Excellence

RCSC calls for enhanced productivity, upholding public interest and exemplary leadership

The Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) has stated that if Bhutan is to realize the vision of becoming a developed state, a higher level of productivity and performance needs to be acquired for which, the Civil Service will have to continue exploring a multi-pronged approach. The Commission has also highlighted the need to uphold public interest and resist the temptation to cater solely to specific interest groups within the public service. Further, the need for leaders to lead transformational leadership by embodying the change and living by examples for the rest to emulate in attaining the desired state, has been underscored.

The above have surfaced in a report that the RCSC released on April 11th, 2024 and are some of the areas that the Commission has identified as prospects for improving service delivery cost effectively, which it says must be pursued actively going forward.

Relating to enhancing productivity and performance, the RCSC has pointed out that the bureaucracy has to raise its performance bar if Bhutan is to realise the aspiration of a developed state. RCSC has mentioned that the current incremental approach to process improvement and productivity enhancement may fall short of achieving the ambitious goals outlined in the 13th Five-Year Plan and the aspiration to transition into a developed country by 2034. While merely striving for adequacy poses the risk of perpetuating mediocrity in performance, it has outlined the need for transformative strategies that push beyond conventional boundaries to truly propel the nation towards its aspirations.

For this the Commission would continue to explore a multi-pronged approach, that include setting and aspiring to more ambitious targets, adopting game changing strategies, improving accountability mechanisms, enhancing elements of competition, performance-based incentives, fostering a culture of flexibility and innovation, diligently pursuing Public-Private-Partnerships and outsourcing all of which should contribute to overall effectiveness in the Civil Service. “However, market measures will have to be considered carefully so as to maintain public interest, ethical standards, and fairness in the management of public resources,” it says.

Related to long term public interest, it says, “Experience has shown that many different groups within the Civil Service approach the Government with their requests. This has subsequently led to situations where politicians have pandered to public servants. Such developments undermine the integrity of governance and distort public policy priorities.” RCSC has underscored that by prioritizing the demands or preferences of specific groups within the public service, it may result in short-term solutions over long-term sustainability and sacrificing the greater good for immediate relief. “This can lead to ineffective resource allocation and inefficiencies. Moreover, pandering to public servants can create a culture of entitlement and dependency, where decisions are made not based on merit or the common good, but on the power wielded by groups that have ability to put pressure due to their large size or influence.” This, the Commission says would undermine merit, hinder effective governance and jeopardise the well-being of society as a whole. “Therefore, it’s crucial to uphold public interest and resist the temptation to cater solely to specific interest groups within the public service.”

Underlining that Transformational leadership is paramount as the nation aims for developed status, RCSC has outlined the needs for nurturing behavioral shifts within bureaucracies, fostering an entrepreneurial mindset, and cultivating innovation. It has said that the Commission will invest in empowering leaders, fostering collaboration, and utilizing technology to drive this change. While, there is the need to cultivate commitment, persistence, and inclusivity, fostering a culture of continuous learning and improvement, “above all, transformational leadership must begin with leaders embodying the change and living by examples for the rest to emulate in attaining the desired state,” it has said.

Considering the optimization of human resources, the Commission has stated that as a welfare state, efforts have been to provide free and easy access to quality administrative and social services. “The nature of geographical terrains, human settlements, transportation connectivity, networking, and communication technology have largely dictated the infrastructure and service delivery processes leading to huge maintenance and service delivery costs to the government,” it says.

Nonetheless, with improved connectivity availability of modern technology, and considering the declining population, in some areas, the Commission has said that there is an opportunity to optimise and improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and overall quality of service delivery. “Bigger service sectors like the MoH and MoESD have the potential to optimise their facilities and services and reduce costs without compromising the quality of services that they provide. Similarly, there is also great potential to reduce government expenditure by reviewing and rationalising the administrative set-up at the Dungkhags and Gewogs and the public services they provide,” it adds.

Recognizing the importance and effectiveness of technological advancement to redefine the way people work, it has highlighted the immense scope of harnessing the power of technology like Cloud Computing, Automation and Workflow Management, Data Analytics and Business Intelligence, Blockchain Technology, and AI in the Civil Service which could potentially help reduce the cost of service delivery. “Mobile applications like G2C services have already made a difference and new initiatives like the NDI and ePIS could significantly bring in efficiency in the processes and alter the service experience for the stakeholders,” it says, adding that technology offers diverse ways to streamline operations, such as automating routine tasks, integrating systems, and deploying self-service portals, chatbots, and virtual assistants. The Commission has further mentioned about predictive analytics enabling faster decision-making, and online learning platforms reducing HR coordination for training. Other advantages like technology facilitating flexible work arrangements, particularly beneficial for civil servants, including parents with young children, thereby enhancing staff productivity and satisfaction are parts of the report.

Highlighting that the traditional work model where one works full-time in an agency, carries out specific tasks within predisposed work hours, and progression in salary grades largely based on seniority is changing fast, the Commission has said that in the future, the most highvalue work will be cognitive in nature. “Employees will have to apply creativity, critical thinking, and constant digital upskilling to solve complex problems. The digital economy demands new ideas, information, and business models that continually expand, combine, and shift into new ventures. The increasing popularity of alternative working patterns such as part-time working, flexitime employment, telecommuting, job-sharing, and compressed workweek mark the important changes in the nature of work.” For this, the RCSC has called for changes in the way jobs are defined and align HR processes around them. “Creating such an appropriate work climate and employment arrangements to attract and retain new generation talents are areas that RCSC will focus on,” it adds.

By Ugyen Tenzin, Thimphu