No progress: CDA shelves plan to remove political appointees

HR audit planned in September still not off the ground; board member claims process to be revived.

Danish Hussain December 28, 2013
CDA shelves plan to remove political appointees. PHOTO: FILE.


The Capital Development Authority (CDA) has yet to formally initiate a planned performance audit of its human resource department.

The decision to hire a consultancy firm of international repute to conduct the performance audit was taken in September 2013, with an advertisements also released seeking expression of interest from firms interested in the job.

The decision was taken by the previous CDA board, and today, no one at authority is sure of where progress on this project stands.

The audit was to focus on economy, efficiency, accountability and transparency in the human resource department, with emphasis on the importance of internal controls, checks and balances, such as monitoring, a review of current practices, policies, and procedures.

Thousands of irregular appointments in the authority made on political basis during the last two regimes are the core reason why the audit was considered necessary. In addition, hundreds of irregular up-gradations, redesignating of various low-cadre posts, and changes in the cadre on the behest of CDA labour union also aggravated the situation.

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Last year, a three-member judicial commission appointed by the Islamabad High Court thoroughly investigated the issue and pointed it out in their report under the section ‘violation of rules and procedure while appointing hundreds of people in CDA since February 2008’.

The commission report stated that since February 2008, some 2,701 people were appointed in the CDA on daily-wage basis, 270 on contract basis, 58 against special scales and four as consultants. The number does not include 1,776 regular appointments made during the same period.

Out of the 2,971 daily-wagers and contractual employees, the services of some 890 employees were regularised on the recommendations of a sub-committee on regularisation headed by Khurshid Shah. The commission report strongly criticised the committee’s direction, stating the employees benefitting from it were not entitled to get regularised in the first place due to the short length of their service in the authority.

According to the report, During the PML-Q regime and the PPP’s last tenure, “hundreds of direct appoints were made in the authority. Those who were recruited on political basis without adhering to merit are now holding senior positions of directors or deputy directors, but when it comes to deliver, they don’t know how to perform.”

Meanwhile, a CDA board member said, “The Absence of a comprehensive recruitment mechanism in autonomous bodies yields the kind of troubles the CDA is facing. The situation has now gotten aggravated to the extent where the incumbent CDA management thinks it has no competent CDA-cadre officers to appoint at decision-making posts.”

The board member’s point is accentuated by the fact that the CDA has no capacity-building programmes or training academy.

“I still remember the days when officers from other government departments used to attend the CDA Training Academy alongside CDA officials,  but today, there is no such facility to enhance the capacity of CDA officers,” said a senior officer of the authority.

Talking to The Express Tribune, newly-appointed CDA Member Administration Amir Ali Ahmad said he was unsure of the progress made on the performance audit. However, he said the process would be revived, as a performance audit of the HR department is the only way to get reliable data on important problems and consequently analyse the causes, effects and remedies.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 28th, 2013.


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