Editorial: Ensuring accountability
Ensuring smooth and transparent functioning of the government departments is a key concern for the government running the state. It is this consideration that government forms house committees of the legislature and asks them to report on the performance of various departments from time to time.
The Rule 308-A of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in State Legislature says that the reports of various House Committees placed on the table in either House of Legislature have to be implemented by the Departments concerned.
The Action Taken Report (ATR), has to be sent in once action is taken on these reports. Constituting House Committees is a recognized practice in a democratic dispensation. By and large, House Committees with specific agenda of reporting on the performance of a particular department on particular or general administrative matters is a method of providing good governance.
However, what has emerged as a challenge for the house committees is that the reports they forward to the government for implementation are seldom being applied in toto.
Why the officials are reluctant to implement the suggestions of bringing about reforms in the existing practices is something inexplicable. If the administrative organs find that some of the recommendations made by the House Committee cannot be implemented on technical, administrative and other grounds they should bring it to the notice of the government or the Legislative Assembly in normal course of things so that any hindrance that may have cropped up can be ironed out.
But what has been actually witnessed on ground is that the officials remain silent to the extent that the term of the house committee either expires or the issue dies a silent death. This attitude is tantamount to undermining the authority and status of the legislature.
In a sound and smooth democratic dispensation there has to be full coordination among the three organs of the State namely legislature, executive and the judiciary. If cohesion among them is lacking, it has adverse impact on good governance. It cannot be called good and smooth administration.
Obviously, representatives will take all aspects of the functionality of a department into consideration which means that while it will have appreciation for the positive and healthy aspects of department’s functionality, it will also highlight certain deficiencies which it may suggest should be removed and improvement brought in the overall delivery of the department under consideration.
This is the precise objective of the House Committees. It is the recognized practice and in simpler words is fulfillment of the requirements of democratic dispensation. It is totally unacceptable that top officials of various departments ignore these reports as if the legislature carries no weight.
To prevent such occurrences, the GAD issued a circular four months back to all departments impressing upon them the imperative of implementing the recommendations of the House Committees and submitting ATRs.
But despite the circular there is no satisfactory improvement as far as implementation of recommendations and submission of Action Taken Reports is concerned. This issue needs to be tackled by the government. The sooner the better.