Nepali Civil Service

An unproductive deal

Numerous reform measures have been taken in different phases of time, but ‘the million dollar question’ arises as to why the past reforms failed to provide effective civil service?  What are the reasons that people are not being righteously repaid by efficient, effective, accountable and transparent civil service?

Running a good, transparent, accountable and influential government is what every elected and non-elected group of people involved in running governments look for. Be it civil servants or political appointees, all the bureaucrats make way to good governance. People involved in the process of making and implementing decisions are searching for accountability and transparency. Following the rule of law, the government is responsible for effective and efficient participation in equitable and inclusive decision making process. The general public of any country expects these, but simple and ethical things are very expensive in real and are rarely experienced by people of many countries. The reason is due to heavily politicized bureaucracy, and Nepal is also a victim instead of a beneficiary.

Constituting the major chunk of bureaucracy, Nepali civil services are still running on the same old conventional approach. This leads to an increasing number of frustrated people seeking government services. There are major problems in the Nepalese civil service that should be resolved. With the passage of time problems have been deep rooted, more intense and pervasive. The deteriorating values and ethics reveal low morale and productivity. The reason behind it may also inflict lack of appreciation to civil servants perceiving a good conduct or failing to take disciplinary action against those upholding code of conducts and ethics.

The measurement of productivity of civil service is especially difficult. There is a need to establish productivity indicators and quality standards for all ministries. A large number of civil servants are unproductive as they are either unskilled, incompetent or inexperienced to do the tasks expected from them, or that they are less motivated for different reasons to take up their obligation with passion and zest.

Dedication, trustworthiness and competence are often compromised. Promotions and merits are provided usually with the terms the officials served in the office, which shows uncertainty in the prospects of innovation and career development. Highlighting on the various government policies, despite many changes there exists little opportunity for reward system and little initiation on already weak punishment system as well.

The frequency of changes in organizational structure, government rules and regulations has a huge impact on different department of civil services and breaks down the effective and efficient work flow.

The major problem of Nepalese civil service is persistent corruption at all tiers of administration. Anti- corruption mechanism has remained the weakest, despite that institutions such as Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority have been given a constitutional status.

Another major barrier is the resisting bureaucrats. The bureaucrats are hard nuts to crack and are stagnant and more negative towards change than that of politicians. Most of the civil service reforms have failed due to conservative and more resilient bureaucracy.

There is an identity issue in viewing the civil service in Nepal. It is often viewed as a problem rather than a solution and the role of bureaucracy is mostly overlooked while formulating and implementing reform measures. Bureaucrats always try to catch the reforms in their favor utilizing both ethical and unethical approach.

As the “Iron Law of Oligarchy” articulates, there will always be small number of elites leading every field of human endeavor and every kind of organization. The Nepalese civil service is also victimized of such political and bureaucratic elites. The civil services have fallen prey to deeply rooted and corrupted politicized bureaucrats.

Various commissions have been organized for the civil service reforms in the country. The solutions and recommendations made for effective and efficient work force has extended five decades of democratic practices. Still the mind set and behavior of bureaucrats and politicians have not changed ominously to acquaint with meaningful reforms in the civil service sector. Success of any civil service reform hinges on the political as well as bureaucratic will and commitment, and the utilization of reform in context is crucial for its success. The introduction of performance based incentive systems may increase personal benefits and also efficiency for some but so far has not been successful or at best its impact is unclear.

The answer to all these problems directly relates with the politics. The deep rooted political bureaucracy kindled by the lack of political willingness and support to carry out the service is the major hurdle. Political commitment is missing and is further aided by frequent changes in government over the years.

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