TRANSPARENCY AT STAKE
* ‘Please discuss’ & a ‘multilayer working system’ trap files at Janata Bhawan
GUWAHATI: ‘Please discuss’ and the typical ‘multilayer working system’ are the reasons for the pending files at Janata Bhawan and other government offices.
“An acute sense of reluctance towards work culture among a section of bureaucrats who love to write ‘Please discuss’ in files instead of moving those and a ‘multilayer working system’ which trap the files from moving upwards are prime reasons behind such a state of affairs,” a source in Dispur told The Sentinel.
Whenever junior-rank officials prepare and submit a file to his immediate senior, bosses of the departments concerned take an easy route by writing ‘Please discuss’ to avoid giving more time in going through the files. Senior officials say they write ‘Please discuss’ in files which need further clarifications and study; and thus return the files to their juniors, informed sources.
“But many senior officials including commissioners and secretaries of different departments write ‘Please discuss’ in files at their own whims and fancies. In an age of digital revolution confusions and clarifications in files could be easily sorted by simple calls or messages. But bureaucrats at Dispur keep returning files; and discussion never takes place even if they write ‘Please discuss’,” the source said, adding that most of the bureaucrats avoid fixing a time frame to clear files.
The ‘Multilayer working system’ is the other word which traps the files at the bottom. Even though the second Administrative Reforms Commission headed by Veerappa Moily in the country recommended three layers (assistant level, superintending level and final decision -making level), files in Assam government offices have to pass through six layers. Sources said many files fail to move more than four to six month.
Pending files breed corruption like anything. Yet no government at Dispur ever felt like taking any bold step for one-time clearance of all pending files – as though such backlog files worry none among the top bureaucrats. The public is the worst sufferer and they keep on running from door to door in government offices and departments to get their files cleared.
Right from assuming office, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has been harping on work culture. If he really means business, he needs to ensure that all pending files are cleared in the State Secretariat and then adopt the same procedure to the departments and their district-level offices with the same zeal. Already three and half years have passed since the Sonowal government took charge of the State. It is high time for the government to move files and make those accountable who are not moving files.