Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Vigilance officers deployed to fight corruption in govt departments

Times of India Bengaluru d. 19/9/16
BENGALURU: Karnataka has entered the league of states where a full-fledged anti-corruption mechanism is in place to keep tabs on corrupt bureaucrats in the state administration.

After dilly-dallying for months, the Karnataka government has appointed chief vigilance officers (CVOs) who are deputy secretary/ joint secretary rank officers in all major government departments. "The CVO post has been given to officers next in seniority to the head in every government department, other than principal secretaries and secretaries, to ensure surveillance on corruption and initiate action against employees as recommended by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) or Lokayukta,'' said Pallavi Akurathi, deputy secretary, department of personnel and administrative reforms.
Separate CVOs are being appointed for public utilities in the energy, public works, rural development and panchayat raj departments. "Earlier, there was no anti-corruption mechanism in the engineering and construction sections where there are complaints of corruption at every step,'' official sources added. Akurathi said the government will soon take steps to appoint CVOs in the commissionerates and directorates of all government departments and, later, in all district offices. "Right now, there's shortage of staff to set up full-fledged vigilance cells. The CVO will be tasked with the job of strengthening the vigilance cell with fresh recruitments over the new few years,'' Akurathi said. 
The CVOs, however, will have no powers to act independently against officials. Citing the guidelines set for CVOs, a senior ACB officer said that CVOs cannot initiate suo motu action against graft complaints or about disproportionate assets against public servants. "After a complaint is filed against a government employee, the ACB or Lokayukta will act independently and confidentially, including collecting information and verification with the help of CVOs. It's the duty of CVOs to take action against dereliction in duty and corruption as recommended by ACB or Lokayukta. Till now, the department's prior approval was required for even that. Now, the ACB on its own can collect and verify cases with the help of CVOs, who is duty-bound to provide information within 15 days," he added.

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