Promotions and OSD | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 25, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, November 25, 2010


Promotions and OSD

More we talk about administrative reform the less we do anything about it

According to a Daily Star report another series of mass promotions of bureaucrats at the level of deputy secretaries, additional secretaries and secretaries is in the offing. Only recently mass promotion at the level of joint secretaries took place. We have no objection to deserving officials being promoted to the next level of hierarchy. It is the mass nature of it that concerns us. It appears that promotions are made more by the years of service put in rather than quality of service. There cannot be any consideration of merit when the promotions are of a mass nature and based on mere seniority.
This putting together of the grain and the chaff totally negates the importance of all the factors that should determine promotion such as efficiency, commitment, team spirit, diligence, regularity and punctuality. Coupled with the mass promotion is the phenomenon of OSD, the so-called officers on special duty, which in reality means officers with no duty. If we can paraphrase the well known saying “an idle brain is a devil's workshop” so an idle bureaucracy (which the OSD signifies) is a dissension generating factory.
Having nothing to do for the whole day and being either explicitly or implicitly resentful of OSD statu, he or she spends the whole time finding fault with those who are not OSD and trying to regress whatever work that goes on, not to mention politicising the process and embittering all those who have reasons to feel discriminated.
Ever since Bangladesh's birth we have been hearing about administrative reforms. Some have been instituted. But fundamental reforms, especially those dealing with career planning, proper ACR writing and objective evaluation of performance remain a far cry. Added to that the increasing politicisation and partisan viewing of bureaucrats have all but debilitated this pivotal instrument of governance and development.
Can we start a change first by putting to work all officers who are OSD?
Pending vacancies let us assign genuine special duties to these senior bureaucrats. On the one hand we hear about inadequate staff and then we see more than 400 senior, experienced and fully paid staff being wasted away without any work.
Many are made OSD for political reasons. Some are made because of absence of suitable posts. Since they already have the title and the pay, government must make use of them in development work. Let them hold appropriate level responsibility on various new and on going government projects. A way must be found to put these officials to some useful jobs. Making OSD is promoting inefficiency. There must not be a single OSD from now. That should be the government's policy. Otherwise it is a criminal waste of public resource.

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