While the government has already made clear the importance it is going to attach to the Secretary-level officers in various ministries, the Centre, in a fresh directive, has decided to make Secretaries more accountable when it comes to playing a role in inter-ministerial consultations, particularly in giving inputs to proposals sponsored by other ministries.
If any consulted Ministry/Department has inputs that it considers necessary/critical for decision making in the case, and these could not be communicated to the sponsoring Ministry/Department in time, Secretary of such Ministry/Department could be required to indicate such inputs during the meeting of the Cabinet along with reasons for not having been able to provide the comments in time, reads the latest communication issued by the Cabinet Secretariat.
This latest missive comes days after Principal Secretary to PM Nripendra Misra asked the Secretaries in all ministries to pay special attention to time-bound requests from the PMO and send back crisp and accurate replies in time. Misra had also asked the Secretaries to preferably approve the responses at their own level, placing accountability for every communication to the PMO.
Now, compressing the time-frame for completion of inter-ministerial consultations to two weeks, fresh instructions from the Cabinet Secretariat stipulate that whenever a consulted ministry or department fails to forward its comments to the sponsoring ministry or department in the two weeks duration, the sponsoring ministry will clearly indicate in the body of the note the date on which comments were sought from Ministry/Department concerned and the fact that the comments of the Ministries/Departments consulted have not been received till finalisation of the note for the Cabinet/Cabinet Committee.
Simply put, those ministries which fail to act in time while responding to inter-ministerial consultations, will no longer be able to go scot-free. The latest directions also mandate that ministries sponsoring a proposal will have to ensure that the draft note for the Cabinet or Cabinet Committee is delivered to all Ministries or Departments required to be consulted and the PMO quickly.
Further, in an attempt to cut delays, the government has decided that once a single copy of the final note is sent to the PMO and Cabinet Secretariat, the time taken to forward the requisite number of copies to Cabinet Secretariat will now be three days instead of the earlier seven days. Final notes received in the Cabinet Secretariat up to Thursdays and found to be procedurally in order will be placed before the Cabinet or the Cabinet Committees the following week.
- RAGHVENDRA RAO