House approves bill rightsizing gov’t to level up delivery of public service
The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a bill rightsizing the government to improve the delivery of public services, a key priority legislation of President Rodrigo Duterte.
During Wednesday’s session, the lower House has approved House Bill 5707 entitled “An Act rightsizing the national government to improve public service delivery,” with 230 affirmative, six negative and zero abstentions.
According to the policy of the bill, the government is mandated to “minimize, if not eliminate, redundancies, overlaps and duplication in its operations and simplify its rules and regulations, systems and processes.”
The proposal in Congress to rightsize the government was mentioned by the President in his second State of the Nation Address.
The bill would cover all agencies of the executive branch, including departments, bureaus, offices, commissions, boards, councils, and all other entities attached to or under their administrative supervisions; as well as government-owned or controlled corporations (GOCCs) not covered by Republic Act No. 10149 or the GOCC Governance Act of 2011.
The bill states that it would be optional for the following government agencies to rightsize its organization—the legislature, judiciary, the Constitutional Commissions, the Office of the Ombudsman, and even the Local Government Units (LGUs)—as long as it would be consistent with the Local Government Code.
Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles, principal author of the bill, said his bill aims to improve the delivery of government service delivery by minimizing duplication, as well as improving performance through the rationalization of service delivery and support systems and organization structure and staffing.
“The passage of the bill will further ensure the long-term sustainability of our government service through resource mobilization and cost effective public expenditure management,” Nograles, who chairs the appropriations committee, said.
The bill would give the President the power to rightsize the executive department.
According to the bill, the President in rightsizing the executive branch has the authority to “scale down, phase out, eliminate or discontinue functions, programs, projects, that can better be carried out or undertaken by the private sector, or have already been devolved to the local government unit.”
The President also has the authority to “transfer/integrate functions from one agency to another which can better perform the same.”
The chief executive has the authority to “merge or consolidate agencies whose functions are necessarily overlapping or duplicating and can be undertaken by a single entity,” and even “split agencies with multifarious functions which are deemed distinct and equally serve important aspects of governance.”
The President according to the bill can also “transfer offices to other agencies wherein their functions are more aligned,” and “abolish agencies which functions are already redundant or no longer relevant or necessary…; which are no longer achieving the objectives and purposes for which they were originally created; which are not cost-effective…; and/or which have already become non-operational, dormant, and/or outlived their purposes.”
The bill also seeks to create a Committee on Rightsizing the Executive Branch to oversee the implementation of this new program.
The committee would be headed by the Executive Secretary as Chairperson, Department of Budget and Management Secretary as Co-Chairperson, and the Socio-Economic Planning Secretary, Civil Service Commission (CSC) chairperson, and the Presidential Management Staff head as members.
The committee would develop the policies, framework, mechanisms for the implementation of the Executive Branch Rightsizing Program; conduct studies on the functions, programs, projects, operations, structure, and manpower complement of the different departments or agencies; develop and prepare the rightsized organizational structure of departments or agencies; develop and prepare the overall change management program, including communication plans for a smooth transition and implementation of the rightsizing program; formulate mechanisms to safeguard the welfare of employees who may be affected by the rightsizing efforts; and formulate the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the bill once it becomes a law.
The bill however has a sunset provision, where the power of the President and the committee to rightsize the government would only last three years after effectivity of the Act.
Meanwhile, the permanent personnel who may be affected by the rightsizing are entitled to retirement benefits and separation incentives.
These personnel who opt not to retire may be deployed by the CSC to other government agencies which would need their skills.
The personnel who retire or are separated from the service arising from the rightsizing program should not be reemployed in any agency of the executive branch and the GOCCs for a period of five years, unless they apply for a teaching or medical staff in educational institutions and hospitals.
The retired or separated personnel under this program who violate this provision should refund their separation incentives, the bill read.
In the President’s Sona, Duterte called on Congress for the speedy passage of the bill rightsizing the government
“I am reiterating my directive to all government agencies from frontline services to our people from womb to tomb – to further streamline their respective services to make these truly efficient and people-friendly. We want to ensure that our people receive the quality services that they deserve, minus the delays caused by bureaucratic red tape,” Duterte said.
“I expect speedy reforms along this line. We will right size the national government. Let us trim the excess fat and add more muscle through the expeditious passage of ‘The Act Rightsizing the National Government to Improve Public Service Delivery and for other Purposes.’ I therefore urge Congress to pass this at the soonest,” he added. JPV