Bureaucrats’ nomination for civil award has field officers crying foul

Bureaucrats’ nomination for civil award has field officers crying foul
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First Published: Mon, Apr 20 2009. 11 37 PM IST
Updated: Mon, Apr 20 2009. 11 37 PM IST
New Delhi: Some field officers in the ministry of corporate affairs, or MCA, have alleged that they have been passed over for an award for which several senior officers were nominated instead.
The Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Public Administration for 2007-08 will be announced on Tuesday.
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MCA 21, the ministry’s Web portal and e-governance project that involve digitizing data of at least 800,000 companies, was put together by these field officers. This enabled companies to file returns over the Internet and made important corporate data easily available in the public domain.
The ministry bureaucrats nominated for the award include Anurag Goel, secretary, Jitesh Khosla, joint secretary, Y.S. Mallick and Sheila Bhide, former joint secretaries, and R. Chandrashekhar, former additional secretary.
Among the field staff, only one junior analyst, S. Sridharan, has been nominated.
None of the officers from the Indian Corporate Law Service, which is not part of the civil services, has been nominated. Field officers are mostly from this service.
“We have worked day and night, putting important data such as annual reports and balance sheets of over 800,000 companies under MCA 21. Because of this, people can access data pertaining to companies so easily,” said an official closely associated with the digitization process since its inception, who asked not to be named. “But when it comes to awards, most of them are going to IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officials because they have lobbied (for nominations).”
A project of such magnitude, that involved digitizing millions of records of registered companies, was completed in just 60 weeks, this official said. It was made possible by the hard work of the field officers, he added.
Earlier, all files related to registered companies could only be accessed by visiting respective offices of registrars of companies (RoCs).
There are 20 RoCs and at least six-eight other officers closely associated with MCA 21. The website was started in 2006.
These records have been scanned and digitized under the MCA 21 project. Companies can also file their balance sheets and annual reports electronically, which has improved compliance in filing returns.
A revenue service official at MCA confirmed the grievances of the field officers. “While field officials have their grievances, there was a cap on the number of nominations, and after due deliberations, the ministry sent a list of senior officials and one junior official to the department of administrative reforms and public grievances, which finalizes the awards,” he said on condition of anonymity.
The railway ministry’s list “has been fairly long, comprising both senior and junior level officials for the award for putting in place the railway reservation system,” he added.
“Field officers are generally from the Indian Corporate Law Service and are totally neglected by the IAS lobby that has come to dominate the ministry,” the official quoted first alleged.
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First Published: Mon, Apr 20 2009. 11 37 PM IST