Governor Perks Up Governance

  • Javaid Malik
  • Publish Date: Jul 22 2018 9:06PM
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  • Updated Date: Jul 22 2018 9:06PM
Governor Perks Up Governance

Biometric attendance system in government offices improves service delivery

Governor N N Vohra seems to be keen on reviving the work culture in the state. Since the day he has taken over the reins, attendance in the government offices has witnessed a sudden jump to almost 100% from an average 50%. How did the system change, writes Javaid Malik

 

Governor’s administration has swiftly changed the mode of attendance in the government offices in Jammu and Kashmir. Attendance registers have been replaced by the digital biometric machines which record the arrival and the departure time of the officials in the government offices.

Soon after Governor N N Vohra took the charge of the state on June 20, 2018, the General Administration Department (GAD) issued an order on June 22 stating: “In order to ensure punctuality in the government offices/ establishments, it has been decided to immediately implement biometric attendance system with immediate effect.”

“No salary or wages would be drawn in favour of the Government employees of any category for the month of June 2018 onwards unless they have enrolled themselves in biometric system (Aadhar not mandatory),” said the order.

“From 22nd June onwards, the marking of attendance in the system would be compulsory for all categories of employees and wage earners. Only after the scrutiny of monthly attendance, the DDOs would prepare salary/wage bill and certificate would accordingly be furnished along with the bill to the treasuries concerned,” the order said.

Initially the Jammu and Kashmir government introduced the biometric attendance system in September 2011 and warned the officials that if they fail to reach the office on time their half day’s salary shall be deducted. At that point of time Omar Abdullah-led government had stated that it’s an attempt to streamline the system. The circular issued by the GAD at that point of time had stated: “Employees who are habitual of attending the office late by half an hour or more, their half day casual leave will be debited to their casual leave account by the concerned nodal officers.”

The nodal officials appointed in every department were directed to submit daily `electronic’ attendance to Commissioner Secretary to Government, ARI and Trainings Department by 10:30 a.m sharp. But the order and the directions remained confined to papers only and the biometric attendance turned out to be a “failed experiment.”     

The idea to put biometric attendance in place was initially conceived by the then government headed by Ghulam Nabi Azad, implementation was delayed and it didn’t happen during Azad’s regime. Later Omar Abdullah led government gave proper shape to the idea. 

After installing the biometric attendance system the then NC-Cong regime couldn’t do much to clip the wings of the late comers as most of them did not even get themselves registered in the new system.

After Peoples Democratic Party and Bharatiya Janata Party entered into a power sharing agreement in March 2015 the biometric attendance system once again came into focus and many circulars were issued to put the system in place but it did not happen.

An official who wished not to be named said, “When politicians are in power, it’s difficult for the government employees to reach their offices on time as they have to first mark their attendances in the durbars of the ministers and other people who are given political positions.”

The official said that you cannot expect employees to mark their attendances in the offices and in durbars of the politicians at the same time. “Many officials did not get themselves registered for biometric system as they feared that they may lose their wages for none of their fault,” the official added.

He claimed that now the system is working as the officials know it very well that “no one would summon them” and they can attend their offices without any disturbance. “One would hope that the trend set by the Governor’s administration is not reversed when political dispensation once again takes charge,” the official added.

On July 5, 2018 an official spokesman said that effective implementation of the biometric attendance system in the offices has started showing tangible results with not only improved punctuality but it has also resulted in better service delivery.

“Attendance in the civil secretariat and other offices has witnessed a sudden jump to 80% from 45% since the reinforced inception of the biometric system,” said a statement issued by the General Administration Department (GAD). It said biometric time and attendance system has also improved workforce productivity, efficiency and human resource management at all levels in the administration.

Deputy Commissioner Baramulla Dr Nasir Naqash while talking to the Kashmir Ink said that revival of the biometric attendance system has made everyone accountable. “This is likely to have a major impact on the efficiency of the administration. We are focusing on it seriously. It is a major step towards improving the governance.”

A government employee said that there is no doubt about the fact that biometric attendance system has improved the punctuality in the offices and most of the employees are attending the offices for full six hours. “Usually we don’t leave our offices at 4’0 clock. We have to spend one or two hours extra to clear the pending files. The government should give it a thought and announce some incentive for the officials putting in extra hours,” he added.            

The DC Baramulla said that in the government offices there is no such provision to pay the employees for putting in the extra hours. “To clear the pending files and day’s work is our job. But if government announces some special incentive for the employees who work overtime it would help in increasing the efficiency,” he added.

The Governor’s administration seems to be of the opinion that biometric attendance system has worked and it needs to be strengthened further. On July 17, the Governor’s administration ordered constitution of a high-level official panel to assess the progress achieved in registration of employees on the Aadhaar enabled biometric attendance system and overall attendance in the civil secretariat as well as in other offices.

According to an order issued by the GAD the committee shall be headed by Principal Secretary to the Government, Finance Department with Commissioner Secretary, GAD; Secretary, Information Technology Department and Senior Technical Director, NIC, Civil Secretariat as members. The Chairman can co-opt any other member as and when required. The committee, according to the order, shall submit its reports on weekly basis.

Governor N N Vohra as head of the state seems very keen on making the government officials work and develop a habit of reaching their offices on time. If he succeeds in his endeavor it would open a new chapter in the history of Jammu and Kashmir and can prove to be a roadmap for the politicians to run the state. 

 

(Javaid Malik is Senior Editor Greater Kashmir and can be reached at malikjavaid123@gmail.com)