Governance Now Visionary Talks Series

Babus will not rate ministers: Cab Sec

Clarification comes following protest from ministers

GN Bureau | February 16, 2010


File photo of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He clarifies that performance monitoring will be driven by ministers
File photo of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He clarifies that performance monitoring will be driven by ministers

The cabinet secretariat on Tuesday cleared the air on the proposed performance monitoring system (PMS) and said that bureaucrats will not be apprising the ministers' performance.

“It has been reported in a section of the media that the government had developed a performance monitoring system whereby performance of ministers would be reported by bureaucrats. This is incorrect,” the cabinet secretariat said in an official release.

“It is not factually correct to say that the serving officers will evaluate the performance of the ministers. The prime minister’s order is clear that the entire process has to be driven by the ministers.

“According to the order: 'At the beginning of each financial year, with the approval of the minister concerned, each department will prepare a Results-Framework Document (RFD) consisting of the priorities set out by the ministry concerned, agenda as spelt out in the manifesto if any, President’s Address, announcements/agenda as spelt out by the government from time to time. The Minister in charge will decide the inter-se priority among the departmental objectives.' “

The clarification comes are media reports that a committee of bureaucrats will review the performance of the ministers. Several central ministers were reportedly opposed to the idea.

“The PM’s order further requires that 'to achieve results commensurate with the priorities listed in the RFD, the minister in charge will approve the proposed activities and schemes for the ministry/department. The ministers in charge will also approve the corresponding success indicators (Key Result Areas – KRAs or Key Performance Indicators – KPIs) and time bound targets to measure progress in achieving these objectives,' “ the release said.

It is also not true that a minister and secretary are jointly required to sign the RFD, it said. The PM’s order does not have any such requirement. The minister has the prerogative and the final authority to decide on the priorities and deliverables for the concerned department at the beginning of the year. Once the priorities, direction and deliverables are decided by the minister, it is the responsibility of the department to achieve these results. The PMES makes this practice more systematic and transparent.

The assertion that the system is run by a Committee on Government Performance is not true, the cabinet secretariat said. According to the PM’s orders, the main function of this Committee is to ensure uniformity, consistency and coordinated action across various Departments. It does the secretarial work of preparing guidelines, ensuring timely submission of RFDs, and providing feedback to the ministries/departments concerned. It plays a supportive role to facilitate the smooth functioning of PMES. This Committee does not evaluate the performance of ministries or departments. It merely provides technical support to facilitate such evaluation by the ministers concerned. The objective is to ensure accountability of the department to the minister, who lays down the goals and targets for each period and reviews them.

The PMES is consistent with international best practice and the report of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC II), the release said.

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