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    Posted on 14 October 2011

    PM’s new man plans paperless PMO

    Pulok Chatterji, the new Principal Secretary to the PMO, is committed to the idea of e-governance

    Iftikhar Gilani
    New Delhi

    Pulok Chatterji, the new Principal Secretary to the PMO, is committed to the idea of e-governance

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s new Principal Secretary Pulok Chatterji, who took over from TKA Nair earlier this month is transforming the country’s top executive’s office. Chatterji’s latest attempt is to stop the PMO officers from pushing files and handle matters electronically to save time instead. Just back from a stint with the World Bank in Washington, he wants the PMO to go paperless.

    The principal secretary’s idea of fast-track e-governance includes getting an internal network established for circulation of notes with a built-in security to ensure they are not leaked at any stage. Once the system is in place, the ministries will have to also convert every proposal going to the PMO or to the Cabinet Secretariat in electronic format for submission. Even notes prepared for Cabinet meetings will have to be transformed to the electronic format.

    In the new work allocation made by him, Chatterji has also made it clear that his approval is required on every key policy file, macro economic policies and other important policy matters before it reaches the PM.

    His predecessor Nair is still in saddle as an advisor to the PM but Chatterji has made it clear that the files for the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) for the senior appointments will be routed through him and not through Nair, who was critical in deciding the fates of the top bureaucrats for the past seven years.

    While the PM wanted Nair to be in PMO only temporarily as an advisor until November-end and then move to Jaipur Raj Bhawan, Chatterji is reported to have put in a word with Sonia Gandhi to drop Nair’s posting to Rajasthan. His logic: There are already three governors from Kerala, MK Narayanan (West Bengal), K Sakaranarayanan (Maharashtra) and Vakkom Purushotthaman (Mizoram), and in case there has to be a fourth one from the state, it should be from a minority community.

    Chatterji is reported to be miffed with Nair because of the way he was dealt with while in a junior position at the PMO before moving to the World Bank. Nair reportedly sabotaged his request to get the orders issued before he joined to grant him the status of a Minister of State (MoS).

    Of course, he has been given the pay scale at par with the rank of a MoS but not the actual status enjoyed by all his predecessors. Nair reportedly put in file the difficulty to grant the MoS status to Chatterji on the ground that he is junior to present Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth and that it will also disturb the bureaucratic hierarchy since his fellow 1974 batchmates are to be around at least till next April.

    Iftikhar Gilani is Special Correspondent with Tehelka.com

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    Posted on 14 October 2011

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