It has sought to draw out the relative importance of political will (including the intentions and authority) of governments, and to critically assess their capacity, the degree of co-operation they gained from civil service actors, and to assess the relevance and appropriateness of international donor interventions. INTRODUCTION All countries strive to reform their administrative system in response to the challenge posed by socioeconomic posed, political, and technical environment. Bangladesh is no exception. Since its emergence as a nation- state, Bangladesh has been trying hard to reshape its administrative system. However, despite their perceived importance, administrative reform in Bangladesh has encountered serious hurdles over the last thirty years.
Since 1971 after a civil war 17 reforms have been taken from which some reforms are very crucial. The major administrative reforms and their fate are discussed elaborately in the following… BACKGROUND: Bangladesh bears a colonial legacy in its entire public administration system. Presentday Bangladesh was part of the British Empire for almost two hundred years. In 1947 Pakistani rulers replaced the British and dominated the area then known as East Pakistan until a bitter war in 1971 brought about an independent Bangladesh. A colonial imprint persists in Bangladesh especially in political and administrative Arrangements .
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The British tradition helped the bureaucracy to become an essential tool of governance. At the same time, it is accused of following the “Pakistani tradition of involvement in power politics” (Hague, 1995). The political system of Bangladesh has survived a series of transitions. A few years of democracy were followed by nearly fifteen years of military rule. In 1990, for the first time, Bangladesh achieved a fully functioning democratic structure. Ironically, the nature and role of bureaucracy in both the pre and post-democratic period remained almost the same except for an increase in number of ministries, divisions, departments and statutory bodies (Ahmed, 2002: 323-26).
The role of government has changed in the course of Bangladesh’s development. After independence its focus was the attainment of development in all spheres of life by intervention and the use of administration in a constructive way. Government and administration were seen not merely as a regulator but as a facilitator. However, it can be argued that development, when considered as a multi-dimensional concept, cannot be attained and sustained without good governance. The term “good governance” has Acquired tremendous importance in the contemporary world, especially in the context of the developing countries. For example, many developing countries have prepared .
Essential component in implementing the plans and strategies to achieve the targets set forth by PRSP; but good governance is a component that most developing countries seriously lack. Merilee S. Grindle points out that when determining their priorities and taking steps to ensure good governance, most developing countries go too far: they chalk out a plan or strategy far beyond the limited capacity of the institutions charged with implementation responsibilities. Grindle suggests redefining “Good Governance” as “Good Enough Governance”, that is, “a condition of minimally acceptable government erformance and civil society engagement that does not significantly hinder economic and political development and that permits poverty reduction initiatives to go forward” (Grindle, 2004: 526). In Bangladesh, a second-generation development challenge is to achieve “good enough governance”. No matter how much a government tries, success will not be attained if it lacks competent institutions to implement policies. Public administration is the key institution for policy implementation. If it is not functioning well, then PRSP targets are unlikely to be met.
The state has to make sure that its administrative apparatus is functioning well, so that it can innovate and implement solutions and that it can ensure that the poor will not be excluded from the process and benefits of development. From the beginning of the 1990s, the role of government has changed from an intervener to a referee; instead of playing the game, its main duty is to make sure that a fair game is being played. This reinvented role of the government necessitates redefining the role of the bureaucracy. Bureaucracy can be considered as an “open” system that interacts with or is affected by the environment in which it operates.
Traditionally, this environment consisted of only the “domestic economic, political and social context within which the organization is located. ” Now, however, “public organizations are more often faced with global threats and opportunities that affect their operations and perspectives” (Welch and Wong, 2001: 372-73). The performance of a public organization depends largely on how the domestic political institution handles global pressures as well as how it interacts with the bureaucracy. In a country like Bangladesh, where global pressure is eminent and the domestic political institutions are ill structured, the colonial legacy places the bureaucracy in a difficult position.
As globalization or market liberalization changes both the domestic context and the functioning of the bureaucracy, it is possible—but not necessarily desirable—that the two primary state institutions, politics and bureaucracy, forge an alliance. All countries strive to reform their administrative system in response to the challenge posed by socioeconomic posed, political, and technical environment. Bangladesh is no exception. Since its emergence as a nation- state, Bangladesh has been trying hard to reshape its administrative system. However, despite their perceived importance, administrative reform in Bangladesh has encountered serious hurdles over the last thirty years. Since 1971 after a civil war 17 reforms have been taken from which some reforms are very crucial. The major administrative reforms and their fate are discussed elaborately in the following
Brief Review of Administrative Reforms in Bangladesh: Since the emergence of the country, a number of commissions and committees (for details, please see Annex-A) were constituted by different governments for administrative reform and reorganization to suit the needs of their respective policy declarations. The development partners also prepared several reports toward that end. A review of the major efforts is summarized below. The first political government in Bangladesh felt it necessary to rationalize and transform the provincial administrative system it had inherited into a national system which would be able to shoulder the responsibilities of a new born sovereign nation.
Accordingly, the government constituted a Committee known as the Administrative and Services Reorganization Committee. The committee reviewed the administrative system thoroughly and proposed a comprehensive structure to enable it to undertake increasing development responsibilities. The recommendations were not, however, implemented due to resistance from different quarters. The subsequent military government in 1976 constituted a commission called as the Pay and Services Commission for recommending measures for administrative reform. The recommendations of the Commission were partially implemented. The Commission recommended for the introduction of an open structure system in the secretariat administration and creation of 28 cadres in the civil service.
While the cadre principle was implemented, there was, in essence, a failure to introduce open structure system in the secretarial administration. The martial law government of General Ershad appointed a Committee for examining the organizational set up of the ministries/divisions, departments, directorates and other organizations. The Committee recommended reduction of the number of ministries/divisions, and of staff at the lower levels of secretarial administration, reduction in the layers of the decision making and fixing the supervisory ratio, formalizing and regularizing recruitment processes, emphasizing the principle of merit in promotion, delegation of financial and administrative powers down the hierarchy and providing training for officials.
But major recommendations of the Committee were not implemented (Khan, 1991). Later, the martial law government appointed another committee, known as Committee for Administrative Reforms/Reorganization (CARR). The Committee recommended for renaming of Thanas as Upazilas (sub-districts), upgrading the Sub-divisions into districts and installation of elected local governments at district, Upazilla and union levels for the transfer of development functions to these elected local bodies. This time, the government implemented most of the recommendations of the Committee. It upgraded Thanas into Upazilas and sub-divisions into districts. It introduced democratic governance though limited in scope at the Upazila level.
In 1987, a Cabinet Sub-committee was formed to recommend policy measures for implementing recommendations of the Secretaries Special Committee on the Structural Organization of the Senior Services Pool (SSP) and the Secretarial Committee relating to the problem of unequal prospects of promotion of officers of different cadre services. The Committee recommended the abolition of the SSP and certain other measures to improve prospects of promotion of officers of various cadre services. The government accepted the recommendations of the Committee and abolished the SSP in 1989. In the same year, another committee was constituted to reexamine the administrative structure and the man power position. The Committee found that 7000 officers and employees were surplus in 37 departments and offices.
On the basis of its findings, the Committee recommended the abolition of 27 departments (Khan, 1991; USAID, 1989; Ali, 1993). During the tenure of the last government, an empirical study was conducted and two committees were constituted to look into problems of public administration and recommend measures for reforms. The Public Administration Sector Study was sponsored by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) with a view to suggesting an open, transparent, accountable and performance oriented administrative system to support parliamentary democracy. The Four Secretaries Committee and Committee for Restructuring Ministries/Department were constituted by the government.
The areas of investigation of these committees and study included secretarial administration and work procedures, ministry-department relationship, ministry-corporation relationship, project cycle, organization and structure of government, decision making, accountability, human resources development, financial management and corruption. Recommendations made by them were of multifarious nature corresponding to the nature of the problems. The present government constituted the Public Administration Reform Commission in 1997 with the mandate to recommend policies, programs and activities to improve the level of efficiency, effectiveness, accountability and transparency in public organizations and to enable them to fulfil the government’s commitment to ensure socio-economic development and reach out its benefits to the people.
The Commission made three types of recommendations, interim, short term and long term for administrative reforms in areas such as, defining of mission and functions of the public offices; affirming professionalism in the civil service; performance monitoring and result oriented performance, audit of government agencies; delegation of powers to subordinate and field offices; open and free access to government documents and reports for the sake of transparency and accountability; separation of judiciary from the executive; separation of audit from accounts; simplification of outdated laws, rules, regulations and forms (GOB, 2000). The Government has implemented some of the interim recommendations of the commission. The cabinet in a recent meeting accepted in principle the other recommendations of the commission. Major Issues of Administrative Reform in Bangladesh: The importance and significance of various reform efforts can not be denied as these have addressed to a large number of issues relating to public administration in Bangladesh. But it is believed that the following issues should be taken into consideration while attempting for any comprehensive eform effort in the future. 1Role of Government The role of government in terms of dimension and nature of involvement in various activities has direct bearing on any reform effort. With respect to size and functional involvement, the Government of Bangladesh has assumed an all pervasive character. The lack of private initiative, which is a historical phenomenon, as well as government’s compulsions, especially just after the emergence of the country, provided the basis for the extended role and functions of the government. As a result, the role and functions of the government in Bangladesh has become all encompassing from the centre to the grassroots level.
Its traditional functions also termed as regulatory functions (maintenance of law and order, collection of revenue and administration of justice) now constitute only a small segment, though their importance has not been reduced at all; rather increased manifold, of the voluminous functions of public administration. But by the nineties of the last century, some major and qualitative changes have taken place both in the internal and external environment of the country. The thrust for the reduced and limited role of the government is recognized nationally and internationally. In the economic sector, local private, and international and multinational initiatives are quite successful in various ventures while the government is found unsuccessful in managing and running public enterprises.
On the other hand, a large number of Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs), national and international, are shouldering some service and development responsibilities and also demonstrating better performance in their own spheres (CDRB and DPC, 1995). All these realities are now considered as the reflection of the freedom of individual belief and rights-two lofty ideals of modern day democracy. Thus there are both objective and subjective reasons to review the role and functions of the government. 2Public Policy Commitments Public policy commitments generally reflect the hopes and aspirations of the people and the demands of the time. These commitments are made in a democratic polity by the political parties both in power and aspiring to go to power. Public policy commitments are later translated into administrative actions.
In Bangladesh, it has been observed that the public policy commitments made by the government are not pursued wholeheartedly. The institutional mechanisms, both internal and external, are also weak to monitor the translation of these into concrete administrative actions. Internal mechanisms include, administrative and political will of the government and effective administrative monitoring system. On the other hand, external mechanisms are specific parliamentary standing committees and effective role of the political parties in parliament and constructive role of the press and media. Moreover, public policy commitments lack consensus especially of the opposition political parties.
As a result, public policy commitments made by one government are, in many cases, scraped or set aside by the next government that comes to power. 3Neutral Governance Currently neutral governance has become a common concern of politicians, administrators, academics and common people as every body are beneficiaries of it. Neutral governance is essential for the sustenance, growth and development of democratic polity. Modern day parliamentary democracies are based on multi party system. Under the system, a number of political parties with varying ideologies and agenda compete for assuming the state power or forming the government through the electoral process. Political parties stay in power so long as they enjoy the support and confidence of the people.
The public administrative system that symbolizes permanency and continuity has to function under and at the direction of different political parties at different points of time. Under the above reality, the administration must ensure neutral governance. The concept of neutral governance with respect to a developing country like Bangladesh could be viewed from the perspective of Maintenance of Law and Order/Enforcement; Administration of and Access to Justice; and Planning and Execution of Development Programs. 3. 1Maintenance of Law and Order/Enforcement Maintenance of law and order is essential for ensuring neutral governance. Broadly speaking, maintenance of law and order has two aspects viz. maintenance of public peace, investigation and trial of criminal cases (GOP, 1960). The above involves both executive and judicial functions. Three elements are involved in it, the police, the magistracy and the judiciary (Ali, et. al. , 1983). The maintenance of public peace does not mean prevention and control of any special type of crime. This deals with general law and order situations that may even be disturbed by non-criminal activities. Though crime may be committed, the real nature of the emergency here may be political or economic or communal. On the other hand, the investigation and trial of criminal cases may be described as prevention; investigation and detection; and prosecution of crime.
It is believed that first of all crime should be prevented. If not prevented then the crime is committed. Once a crime is committed it must then be investigated and detected. The successful investigation leads to prosecution. Besides these, the police perform many other functions that have direct or indirect bearing on the maintenance of law and order/enforcement. Some of these are: execution of processes of criminal courts, regulation of crowds and traffic and other duties to meet emergency situations. To ensure neutral governance with respect to the maintenance of law and order/enforcement, the police administration should enjoy freedom from interference from any quarters.
If interference are made Police administration can not function or discharge its duties and responsibilities without fear or favour. But in recent years, it has been alleged that the law enforcing agencies have been subjected to influences of various kinds to meet the political ends of the parties in power. Such practices seriously erode the confidence of the people and directly violate the principle of neutral governance, above all, they encourage the police particularly at the lower echelons, to take advantage of such biased position of the authorities to convert the opportunity for unrestrained personal gains. And this is what has happened in Bangladesh. 3. 2Administration of and Access to Justice-Rule of Law
Administration and access to justice is a primary requirement for establishing the rule of law in the country. Again, the rule of law must be considered as an important dimension for sustainable democracy, accountable administration and equitable development. In the area of administration of justice in Bangladesh, the judicial system is subjected to some fundamental and procedural problems. Although there is constitutional provision for the separation of judiciary from the executive, concrete steps are yet be taken to separate the two especially at the lower level. It has been reported that now a bill proposing the separation of the judiciary and the executive is pending in the parliament for enactment.
The combination of the executive/police and authority of criminal justice in the hands of the executive government was the innovation of the colonial power and it was specifically designed to meet the colonial purposes. However, non-action to separate the judiciary from administration helped accentuate bureaucratic authoritarianism and interference in the judicial process especially at the lower levels. Moreover, certain constitutional provisions require collaborative efforts of the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and the Supreme Court in the area of personnel management of the judges. Interference of the executive branch in the personnel management of the judiciary hampers judicial independence. In Bangladesh, successive governments meddled with the affairs of the judiciary to serve their narrow political ends.
This state of affairs has seriously eroded the confidence of the people in the impartiality of the judicial process. Access to justice is another precondition for establishing rule of law in the country. Easy and timely access to judicial redress is essential for limiting or arresting the high handedness of the executive organ of the government. Repressive and sweeping laws also limit the private citizens’ access to the judiciary. Moreover, the structural and institutional inefficiency of the judicial system has created manifold problems which fails to check the excesses of the executive arm and the bureaucratic authority and to safeguard the civil rights of the people at large. 3. Planning and Execution of Development Program Another dimension of the concept of neutral governance is the neutral or impartial planning and execution of development programs. In developing countries like Bangladesh, initiatives for balanced development of the different parts of the country should come from the government. Moreover, for obvious reasons, the government has to shoulder the major responsibility with respect to economic and social sector development. But it has been observed that, in many cases, development programs are undertaken and executed to serve the narrow party interest of the political party in power at the expense of the national interest.
The other phenomenon that is very much in existence in Bangladesh is that the people who are associated with the ruling party are awarded with various contracts relating to the execution of the development programs. Such practices breed corruption and the quality of the execution of the development programs also suffers. Sometimes, a nexus is developed between the political parties, government executing agencies and the implementers/contractors that results in waste and unnecessary cost escalation of development projects. But the concept of neutral governance with respect to planning and execution of the development programs suggests that national, not narrow party and or other interests, should come into prominence in the planning and execution of the development programs.
The legitimate policy bias should not pervade the concept of neutral governance with respect to planning and execution of specific development plans and projects. It is natural that different political parties will have different policies and programs but this does not mean that their implementation should any way suffer from any partisan application. .4. Provider of Services Government’s role has changed with the passage of time. In the beginning, the basic purpose was to maintain the steady state. As such, the role was basically regulatory in nature. The concentration was on revenue collection, maintenance of law and order and administration of justice. The administrative system that Bangladesh inherited from the British in 1947 was developed for assuming the above stated roles.
Then the government for the first time was called upon to shoulder new responsibilities in addition to its earlier role in traditional/regulatory administration. In the sphere of traditional administration, the emphasis was on maintaining steady state so that the nation can strive for better life both at the individual citizen’s level and also at the national level (Hussain, 1986). With the changed scenario, a new dimension was added to the role of the government, i. e. , development administration. The assumption of this new role was necessitated with the rising expectations of the people. Government at this stage, in the absence of any other alternative choice, had to intervene in different sectors (broadly, economic and service) of the national life to ensure all round national development.
The situation in 1947 was such that there was virtually no private sector and entrepreneurial capacity of the private citizens was almost non-existent. Under compulsion, the government had to intervene in all sectors. This phenomenon continued through out the Pakistani period. Another point should be noted here that during this period whatever capacity developed in the private sector was confined mostly to the erstwhile West Pakistani (now Pakistani) nationals (Ahmed, 1980; Jahan, 1977) After the emergence of Bangladesh the situation was even worse. The institutional business enterprises and industries were mostly owned by the Pakistanis and these were left behind by them. The government had no choice but to nationalize those.
On the other hand, government of the time also opted for a mixed economy. Consequently, the government’s roles and functions increased manifold. Besides, this period also witnessed the creation of a number of public enterprises especially in the economic sector (Sobhan and Ahmed (1980). In the service sector the government’s role and functions also increased considerably. The government ultimately became the main provider of services to the people. After the change of government in 1975, Government’s policies regarding its role underwent fundamental changes. Emphasis was put on the development of private initiatives in all sectors of national life.
In the economic sector, thrust was given for the development of private entrepreneurial class (Ahmed, 1980). At the same time, the government went for the denationalization of different state owned enterprises. This period also saw the rise of a large number of Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs). These organizations started to take active part in development and service sectors especially at the grassroots level. In spite of all these developments, the government in Bangladesh still remains the primary providers of services in all sectors. The all encompassing role of the government resulted in mismanagement and overburdening of the administrative system.
Now the time has come to redefine and delimit the role of the government as provider of services and also to look for alternative strategies for providing these to suit the demand of time. 5Civil Service An efficient and effective role of civil service in a developing democratic polity is of vital importance. The efficiency of public servants is a sine qua non for managing the affairs of the state. On the other hand, the involvement of the public servants must not transcend the boundary of the democratic framework. However, bureaucratic efficiency depends on conducive political and bureaucratic environment and culture suiting the needs of the hour; existence of the democratic values in the administrative system; and existence of mechanisms to have checks on bureaucratic excesses. 5. 1Bureaucratic Norms
In multi-party democracy, public servants have to perform functions, such as, to inform the ministers and parliament with complete and accurate data presented objectively and in time; to advise ministers by analysis of data and appraisal of options in which they can have confidence; to implement ministerial decisions and to administer resultant decision; and to be responsible to minister and parliament for their actions (or inaction) with particular reference to the safeguarding of public funds and ensuring effective value for money (Stowes, 1992). With respect to the bureaucratic norms of the civil service in Bangladesh experience reveals that these are adhered to a very limited scale. A number of socio-economic and political factors, including historical peculiarities have impeded the growth of accountable structure of administration in Bangladesh. As a result, the ‘high office arrogance’, unethical behaviour, gross inefficiency, failure to respect legislative intent and failure to show initiatives have become apparent in the civil service of Bangladesh (Hussain and Sarker, 1995). 5. 2Decision Making Process
Efficient decision making procedures are part of the professional and result-oriented administration. The organization and structure of the government and public service and administrative culture have bearing on the decision making system. In Bangladesh, the Rules of Business outline the basic provisions relating to the distribution of responsibilities among different units of government. Under the existing arrangement of the governmental administration, the ministry is responsible for formulating policies. The directorates/departments/statutory bodies and field offices implement policies. In fact, the existing arrangement implies a policy formulation-implementation dichotomy.
Interestingly, such a dichotomy has a corresponding relationship to the structural arrangement of the system, resulting in the conflicting relationship between generalists and specialists. There is also confusion about the nature of decisions. It is difficult to draw a demarcation line between the policy decisions and the operational decisions. This confusion complicates the disposal of cases. This, along with centralized tendency in administration causes delay in decision making. Jurisdictional infringement, buck passing, distortion of priorities, employee disorientation and misallocation of resources are many of the factors responsible for such a state of affairs (Huda and Rahman, 1989). The other important aspect that may be noted here is that the discourse on decision making is confined only to the bureaucratic structure.
For instance, there is no indication in the Rules of Business regarding the role of parliament members in decision making particularly at various administrative levels, without violating the separation of power policy. 5. 3Corruption Corruption has been and continues to be an unfortunate integral part of administrative culture in Bangladesh. But in recent times, it has taken an all pervasive form. A recent donor sponsored study reflecting on the harmful effect of bribery, corruption, kickbacks and under the table payments for various administrative decisions and actions noted that the per capita income in corruption free Bangladesh could have nearly doubled to US$ 700 (currently it is estimated to be US$350) (Transparency International, Bangladesh, 2000).
Government officials especially, involved in development projects, service delivery, enforcement and regulatory agencies at all levels are reported to be colluding with private bidders and contractors and service seekers and consequently amassing vast illegal incomes in the bargain. The reasons for such corruption can be summed up: Firstly, because of institutional weaknesses, civil servants involved in corrupt practices, in most of the cases, are not taken to task and they indulge in corruption with impunity. Moreover, even if found guilty, they have never been adequately punished nor compelled to return to the state their ill-gotten wealth.
Secondly, for quick service delivery, citizens in general, now do not mind to pay bribes and kickbacks. Thirdly, there is now social acceptance of corruption. Fourthly, barring occasional public procurements, the representatives of the people, i. e. politicians especially those who are in power, are not very enthusiastic to take effective measures to curb corrupt practices in public dealings. Rather in many cases, it is alleged that they have become party to various dubious deals. 6. Administrative Accountability Government policy decisions are implemented through bureaucratic mechanisms; as such, administrative accountability is essential for good government.
In developing polity, there is a tendency on the part of the public bureaucracy to exercise power in an authoritarian manner. Bangladesh bureaucracy is also no exception to that. Authoritarian organization culture still persists. Democratic values are still lacking in the bureaucracy. This is due to the colonial legacy that the administration inherited and lack of experience of the bureaucratic system to function under broader democratic political environment. There is a marked lack of clarity and in deed there is an imbalance between the role of bureaucracy and the role of public representatives and political leaders in the policy making and overall governance system.
No systematic measures have been taken so far to streamline the institutional integration of popular interests and technical expertise at all levels of government. As a result, efficiency and accountability suffer under democratic political leadership. The arrogance of high office, unethical behaviour, failure to respect legislative intent and apathy towards work have been rampant (UNDP, 1993). However, elaborate measures should be undertaken to curtail bureaucratic excess. Its role should not go beyond the limits that may thwart democratic ideals and practices. Some of the measures could be through the effective roles of the parliament, media and the civil society. . 1Role of Parliament Bangladesh has again gone back to the parliamentary form of government after amending the constitution (GOB, 1998). Under the present system, the executive branch is responsible to the parliament and that the peoples’ representatives must have sufficient voice in the design and formulation of public policy. In Bangladesh, the parliament is primarily concerned with enacting legislation and ratifying decisions that the executive has already taken. Thus, it is clearly observed that peoples’ representatives have no substantive role in policy formulation. The role of parliamentary committees is very significant in this regard.
These statutory committees are expected to scrutinize various aspects of government actions. Moreover, they should function in such a manner so as to ensure transparency of vital government businesses. However, in Bangladesh, the parliamentary committees so far have failed to play the vital role in making the administration accountable. Some important committees such as, Public Accounts Committee, Committee on Estimates, Committee on Public Undertaking and other standing committees on various ministries are not performing well enough to ensure accountability of executive government. Committee meetings are not held regularly and ministers in many cases do not attend the meetings.
More importantly, the decisions of the committees are not followed by actions. The other feature of Bangladesh politics is the excessive reliance on exercising executive authority by keeping the parliament in the dark. In most cases, policy issues are not discussed in the parliament. This weakens parliament’s authority to hold the executive accountable to it. Another interesting feature of Bangladesh politics is that the opposition political parties oppose the ruling party for the sake of opposition only. Moreover, boycotting/non-participation in the sessions of the parliament has also become a regular practice of the opposition political parties.
But to have healthy political environment and to hold the party in power responsible for the actions/inaction, opposition political parties should play a positive role both within and outside the parliament. 6. 2Role of Media Role of media is very important in ensuring administrative accountability. Information about government actions are largely reported through the media both electronic and print. By ensuring free flow of information, the media also ensures transparency of administrative actions. Currently, the print media is enjoying considerable freedom in Bangladesh. They bring lapses and excesses of the executive to the notice of the public and thereby making them accountable.
But exclusive government control over state run mass media like radio and television run contrary to the concept of free flow of information and transparency. Such exclusive control has negative bearing on ensuring administrative accountability. In Bangladesh, both radio and television are solely owned and controlled by the government. As a result, these two media are acting as the spokesmen of the government or rather the party in power. Impartial information and views, in most of the cases, are not usually broadcast. Moreover, views of the opposition political parties and groups do not receive proper and adequate attention of the state run radio and television.
As we know, the role of media by facilitating the free flow of information of all government actions is very essential for ensuring executive and administrative accountability. The reforms which, according to the press reports, are on the anvil appear to fall short of expectations of the nation in as much as the government control on the state run electronic media remains virtually overlooked. 6. 3Role of Civil Society From a functional perspective, there is a general tendency to treat civil society as one of the three sections that constitute a nation – the other two being the public sector or the government and the private sector or the profit-seeking enterprises.
Very broadly, civil society can be defined as those organizations that exist between the level of the family and the state and enjoy a degree of autonomy from the state and the market, and provide a counter-balance to the power of the state and the market. Civil society may also be viewed as organized activities by groups or individuals either performing certain services or trying to influence and improve the society as a whole, but are not part of government or business (Jorgensen, 1996). In Bangladesh, civil society includes indigenous community groups, mass organizations, cooperatives, religious societies, trade unions, and professional bodies. Given the dynamics of the political process, it is indeed difficult to set a prescribed role for the civil society in Bangladesh. The role of civil society, in fact, depends on the nature of the demand and prevailing conditions of a polity.
However, areas of involvement of the civil society in the context of Bangladesh are policy advocacy, mobilization of public opinion, demand creation, active participation in policy formulation process, bridging the gap between citizens and government, pressurizing the government with the help of the media, supporting the popular movement in favour of a given policy issue, lobbying with the donor groups/development partners, playing the role of mediator/ arbitrator between citizens and government, and policy analysis, etc. Civil society, by its actions, performs as pressure group in the polity in attaining administrative accountability. In the true sense of the term, the civil society is only emerging in Bangladesh. In recent years, the civil society has made some limited but positive contributions towards ensuring executive and administrative accountability. But it has been observed that some groups of the civil society movement are politicized and divided on political lines. Though there has been a steady and random growth of the civil society organizations, there is virtually no active network of them to look after collective interests of the people.
More concerted efforts are needed to organize and further develop the civil society institutions so that they can play an appropriate role in making the executive and the administration accountable to people. MAJOR ADMINISTRATIVE REFORMS The major administrative reforms and their fate are discussed elaborately in the following List of Major Committees and Commission for Administrative Reform |S. n. |Name of the Committee/Commission |Focus Areas |Major Recommendations |Observation | |1 |Civil Administration Restoration |Organizational set up for the |Establishment of 20 Ministries, 3 other secretariat organizations and|Secretariat administration was reorganized with 20 ministries. | |Committee, 1971 |Government after the emergence of |7 constitutional bodies |Constitutional bodies like Supreme Court, the High Court, the Public | | | |Bangladesh |Detailed specification of functions of civil servants at the |Service Commission, the Election Commission and the Office of the | | | | |Division, District, Sub-division levels |Comptroller and Auditor General were established | | | | |Providing appropriate status and respect to the officers and staff of| | | | | |civil administration as lawful organs of the Government | | |2 |Administrative and Services Structure |Civil Service Structure |Unified civil service structure with a continuous grading system |The report of the Committee was not published | | |Reorganization Committee, 1972 | |from top to the bottom. Division of all posts into two broad | | | | | |categories: Functional and Area Group Posts. Top 3 grades, i,e. I, | | | | | |II and III to be designated as Senior Policy and Management Posts | | |3 |National Pay Commission, 1972 |Pay Issues |10 scales of pay in line with the recommendation of the ASRC |New national pay scale with 10 grades was introduced | |4 |Pay and Services Commission, 1977 |Civil Service Structure and Pay Issues |52 scales of pay and equal initial scales of pay and equitable |The New National Grades and Scales of Pay was introduces with 21 | | | | |opportunities for advancement to the top for all |scales of pay | | | | |Introduction of Superior Policy Pool at the top of the civil service |28 services under 14 main cadres were created within the civil service| | | | |Establishment of Civil Service Ministry by abolishing Establishment |A Senior Services Pool was constituted | | | | |Ministry | | |5 |Martial Law Committee for Examining |Reorganization and Rationalization of |Reduction in the number of ministries/divisions/directorates and |Number of ministries were reduced from 36 to 19 | | |Organizational Set up of |Manpower in Public Sector Organizations|sun-ordinate offices |Number of other offices were reduced from 243 to 181 | | |Ministries/Divisions/Directorates and | | |Number of constitutional bodies were reduced from 12 to 9.
Number of | | |other organizations, 1982 | |Reduction of layers for decision making |officials and employees mostly working at the lower levels was reduced| | | | | |from 9,440 to 3,222 | | | | |Delegation of administrative and financial powers down the hierarchy | | |6 |Committee for Administrative Reform and |Reorganization of Field Level |Up gradation of Thanas with Thana Parishads as the focal point of |The new system of administration and local government was introduced | | |Reorganization, 1982 |Administration |local administration |in 460 Thana’s (Thanas were later renamed as Upazilas) | |7 |National Pay Commission, 1984 |Pay Issues |New National Pay Scale with 20 grades |The New National Scales of Pay was introduces with 20 scales of pay | | |Secretaries Committee on Administrative |Promotion Aspects |Maintenance of status quo for 10 cadre services as promotion prospect| | | |Development, 1985 | |had been satisfactory | | |8 |Special Committee to Review the Structure |Structure of Senior Services Pool (SSP)|Continuation of SSP as a cadre |Recommendations were referred to the Cabinet Sub-committee for | | |of Senior Services Pool, 1985 | |Entry into the SSP only through examination to be conducted by the |examination | | | | Public Service Commission | | | | | |Tenure of Secretaries be limited to 8 years | | |9 |Cabinet Sub-committee, 1987 |Review of SSP and Promotion Aspects |Creation of 50% of posts of Deputy Secretaries within the pay scales |Recommendations were referred to the Council Committee for | | | |Rules of Business |of Taka 4200-5200 for making SSP more attractive |examination.
The recommendations of the Council Committee were not | | | | |Tenure of Secretaries should not be limited |approved by the President | |10 | 1996Committee to Re-examine the necessity|Necessity or otherwise of keeping | | | | |of keeping certain Government Offices in |certain Government Offices | | | | |the light of changed circumstances, 1989 | | | | |11 |National Pay Commission,1989 |Pay Issues |Revised National Scales of Pay |20 revised Nation Scales of Pay was introduced | |12 |Administrative Reorganization Committee, |Administrative structure and staffing |Reduction of the number of ministries from 35 to 22 and the number of|The report of the Committee was not made public | | |1993 |patterns |administrative organization from 257 to 224 | | | | | |Provisional structure for the Office of Ombudsman | | | | |Creation of a Secretariat for the Supreme Court | | |12 |National Pay Commission, |Pay Issues |Revised National Scales of Pay |20 revised Nation Scales of Pay was introduced | | | |Structure and reorganization of | | | | | |manpower across | | | | | |Ministries/Departments/Directorates, | | | | | |etc. | | |13 |Administrative Reorganization Committee, |Administrative structure for improving | | | | |1996 |the quality and standard of service, | | | | | |achieve transparency and efficiency | | | |14 |Public Administration Reform Commission, | |Determination of Missions and functions of the public offices |Some of the interim recommendations have been implemented | | |1997 | |Formation of a professional policy making group “Senior Management |The recommendations of the Commission have been accepted by the | | | | |Pool” Lateral entry into the civil service |government in a recently held cabinet meeting | | | | |Reduction of the number of ministries from 36 to 25 and the abolition| | | | | |of 6 organizations. Establishment of the Supreme Court Secretarial. | | | | |Establishment of the Office of the Ombudsman | | | | | |The local councils/Parishads at the district, Upazila and Union | | | | | |should have overall authority of coordination of development | | | | | |activities .
Establishment of an Independent Commission Against | | | | | |Corruption, Establishment of a Criminal Justice Commission | | | | | |Magnetization of public service benefits; Establishment of a Public | | | | | |Administration Reform monitoring Commission | | DISCUSSION ADMINISTRATIVE REFORMS ELABORATELY IN THE FOLLOWING…. Administrative and service structure reorganization committee(ASRC):
On 15 March 1972 a four members administrative and service reorganization committee (ASRC) was appointed and submitted its report in two phases in April 1973 and in May 1974. Mission of ASRC: The ASRC was asked – To consider the present structure of various service….. And determine the future structure keeping in the view fundamental needs. To consider the amalgamation of all civil services ….. Into one unified service. To determine the principle of integration of the personnel of various service in the new structure and to determine inter seniority of personnel in different service. To determine the future recruitment policy in the government service and various levels. To prepare and recommend a comprehensive scheme for administrative reorganization.
Significant recommendation: The ASRC have done some important recommendations. As like- The committee felt that division between former all Pakistan and other central superior services and the former provincial service as well division between higher and lower classes be abolished and a continuous grading system from top to bottom should be substituted in each occupational group. The committee suggested that reservation of posts for various groups within the public service should be discontinued. All public servants, the ASRC recommended, should be organized in a single classes unified grading structure (UGS) covering the whole public service.
To inculcate professionalism in the public service, the committee suggested, division of all posts within it into two broad categories to be designated as functional posts and area group posts. The ASRC called for designating posts in top three grades, i. e. I. II and III as senior policy and management posts and tightening selection procedure for entrance into senior management positions. The committee also suggested a detail plan as to how its proposal for UGS be implemented throughout the public service. The ASRC felt that individuals should be recruited to various grads as in the public service on the basis of merit as tested by their performance in competitive public examination. The ASRC also made a number of specific recommendations to democratize the governance and reduce the powers.
As like- Increasing devolution of power and authority to elected local governments at different levels district, Thana, and union was forcefully argued to enable locally elected officials to provide leadership in developmental activities without interference from central government officials placed in the field. Different local levels field tiers had to be rationalized with upgrading of subdivisions into districts and abolition of division. Separation of the judiciary from the executive had to be ensured for successful functioning of a democratic policy. At the central levels the role o the secretariat needed to be restricted to policy formulation, planning and evaluation of the executed plans and programs. Fate of ASRC
The ASRC submitted its recommendations to the government in two phases. But there was no official response to the committee’s work till the end of the Mujib government. It is difficult to understand why far- reaching recommendations of ASRC was shelved in spite of the fact that accepting the members. All members including the chairman were close to Mujib both politically and personally. It is on record that Mujib was unhappy with the poor performance on lack of commitment of many senior civil servants. He knew the problems but did not want to go all the way to solve the malices. That created the paradox and consequently Mujib’s lack of action.
National pay commission(NPC): A nation pay commission (NPC-1) was appointed on 21July 1972 under the chairmanship of a retired secretary to the government. Besides the chairman, there were nine members. The membership of the commission included full –time and five part-time members. Mission: The national pay commission (NPC-1) was assigned with a number of tasks. These included: Reviewing the pay structure of all employees in the public sector keeping in view the government’s policy of socialism. Recommending rationalization and standardization of pay scales of those who served under erstwhile central and provincial governments. Significant recommendations:
The guiding principles followed by NPC-1 in recommending a rational pay structure were a livable wage, social acceptability, functionally distinguishable levels of responsibility matched with standardized pay levels and motivation based on patriotic grounds. The NPC-1 felt that a nine tiers administrative structure with corresponding pay scales could meet the requirements of a rational structure in Bangladesh during next five years 1973-1978 of the nine scales for would be normal direct entry tiers, three promotion tiers and two conversion ties but the commission’s plan had to be modified to bring it in line with ASRC recommendation. Fate of NPC Some of the recommendations f the commission were partially implemented however, majority of the recommendations of the NPC-1 were not implemented. Reasons can be offered as to why the commission’s recommendations suffered such a fact:
Compression of 2200 scales into 10 scales was very difficult task and it proved to be at the implementation stage. No major segment within the civil service supported the recommendations. Rather almost everybody who mattered opposed it. Pay and service commission(P&SC): The pay and service commission (P&SC) was appointed on 20 February 1976 consisted of thirteen member including the chairman, headed by retired secretary who was changed in mid-way and replaced by another senior civil servant. Mission: The P&SC was asked to examine the existing pay and service structure of public sector except defense service and university’s teaching posts, recommend suitable service structure and pay structure including fringe benefits for civil service.
In marking its recommendation, the commission had to consider some factors such as: Functional needs and requirements of the government, job requirement or various service and posts, cost of living, resources of the government and public sector enterprises, reduction of disparity between the highest and the lowest salary levels, demand and supply of various profession and occupation. It had another main business to examine both service and pay matters of all employees in the traditional public sector and this had to be accomplished within a given set of constraints. Fate of P: The government slowly and implemented some of the recommendations in modified form and it took two years. Creation of twenty eight services under fourteen main cadres within the civil service. The government in 1977 provided for twenty –one scales of pay through the introduction of new national grades and scales of pay (NNGSP).
In the process the government drastically scales down the number, that is fifty scales of pay which P recommended but the NNGSP satisfied very few people. Constitution of senior service pool (SSP) by the government. The (SSP) was modeled in light of the P call for creation of a superior policy pool (SSP), but the SSP order was formulated and implemented in such a manner that the objective behind SSP was willfully ignored. Martial Law Committee -1(MLC-1): A five – member martial law committee for examining organization set up of ministries /divisions , departments , directorates and other organization under them (MLC) was appointed on April 18,1982 under the chairmanship of a Brigadier .
The other members of the committee were two lieutenant colonels, one major and one mid ranking civil servant. The latter was made secretary to the committee. Mission of MLC-1: The committee’s responsibility included: To review and recommend charter of duties of various sectors, branches, wings, divisions and departments. To scrutinize existing and