The government has asked all ministries and departments to do away with unnecessary consultations on draft Cabinet notes, to expedite project approvals. A cabinet secretariat memo to all government secretaries has reiterated the formal position that the notes should be circulated only among those ministries and departments which are relevant to the proposal.
“It has been observed that sponsoring ministries/departments are in some cases circulating draft cabinet/cabinet committee notes to many ministries/departments for inter-ministerial consultations, including to those not related to the subject matter,’’ according to the memo. This delays finalisation of a cabinet note, it has added.
A civil servant said in many cases, secretaries send out draft cabinet notes to several ministries “to deflect responsibility’’, although these are supposed to go to only those which could be impacted by the proposal. The “must’’ list for circulation of any draft cabinet note includes the finance ministry, law ministry and Planning Commission (now Niti Aayog), according to a bureaucrat. Home is another ministry consulted frequently, for security-related issues.
Making of effective cabinet notes and timely clearance of projects has often been conveyed in memos to secretaries during the two years of the present government. Soon after coming to power in May 2014, the government had issued a directive to civil servants that discussion between ministries on a Cabinet note must be completed within two weeks. And, some months earlier, a reminder in this regard was sent to all secretaries.