New Delhi: Changes in RTI law and slack response to key transparency issues kept the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions in news in 2012.
The ministry, considered as government's nodal wing for administrative and anti-corruption measures, also took steps including rotational transfer of central government officials, restricting tenure for foreign postings, timely completion of graft cases and directed all ministries to make public tours details of officers working under it.
Besides, in a bold step, it also suggested all central government departments to put in place regulatory parameters to check arbitrariness in the execution of discretionary powers by them and the ministers and make them public.
Minister V Narayanasamy created some controversy over his reported remark on multi-member CAG but later sought to retract his comments.
To stop corruption, the ministry suggested all central government departments to set up an exclusive and independent vigilance wing. It also asked secretaries of ministries to review the pending disciplinary proceeding cases and sanction of prosecution cases each month.
Citing inordinate delay in expeditious disposal of disciplinary inquiries, it also asked all central departments to ensure timely conclusion of such cases.
The Ministry, which acts as a nodal authority for implementation of Right to Information Act, also issued a slew of measures on transparency law including a 500-word limit and new formats for filing appeals.
However, its two key plans -- to conduct a study on the implementation of RTI Act and compliance of anti-corruption measures as a mandatory requirement under UN Convention Against Corruption -- failed to take off despite repeated efforts.
The ministry in May proposed a 'RTI Call Centre and Portal Project' to make the entire process of filing applications and first appeals user-friendly and transparent. It has issued a public advertisement in this regard. But last month, the government decided to go for fresh tendering after it failed to get the desired response.
Similarly, the Personnel Ministry dropped its proposal to review country's fight against corruption through a self evaluation study by independent experts in view of cold response.
An expression of interest to undertake a self evaluation study to assess anti-corruption measures as part of a mandatory obligation after ratification of the UNCAC was floated in May. But not many takers had come forward to show interest in the government initiative forcing its closure.
UNCAC, which acts as a universal legal instrument to deal with the menace of corruption globally, was ratified by India on May 9 last year.
In a move aimed at increasing transparency, the ministry also asked all its ministries to make public details of official foreign and domestic tours undertaken by ministers and senior officers.
Besides, the Ministry issued guidelines to strictly ensure that officers do not over stay their overseas stint and follow a maximum of seven-year time limit.
In order to ensure efficiency of its employees, it also decided to review the working of all-India service officers so that non-performing officials could be retired from services. Whereas, it has implemented the policy of rotational transfer of all its employees.
The ministry, which is reviewing anti-graft measures being taken by central government ministries, departments and public sector undertakings, faces the challenge of checking the menace of corruption from the governance especially from key public service delivery system.
First Published: Monday, December 31, 2012, 11:41