DepEd rationalization plan: A “lean but mean” bureaucracy
By Patricia C. Tongco
Master Teacher I
IT’S a bitter pill that needs to be swallowed so things would improve for the better, or so the government hopes.
This appears to be the situation as the government rolls out the rationalization plans of various government agencies, including the Department of Education.
The formulation of rationalization plans by various government agencies was initiated by virtue of Executive Order No. 366 issued in October 2004 entitled “Directing a Strategic Review of the Operations and Organizations of the Executive Branch and Providing Options and Incentives for Employees Who May Be Affected by the Rationalization of the Functions and Agencies of the Executive Branch.”
Primarily the strategic review of the operations aims to focus government efforts and resources on its vital/core services and improve the quality and efficiency of government services delivery by eliminating/minimizing overlaps and duplication and improving agency performance through the rationalization of service delivery and support systems and organization structure and staffing pattern, as contained in DepEd Order No. 53-2013.
The order outlines the full implementation of the DepEd’s rationalization map in two phases which shall cover the central office down to the division level.
Upon approval by the Department of Budget and Management, the DepEd is given four months within which to carry out the two-phase plan and “place the employees and positions in the new staffing pattern.”
Based on the order, affected employees are given two options: Remain in government service through conversion of their respective positions from regular to Co-Terminus with the Incumbent (CTI), or avail of retirement/separation with the applicable incentives. They are given until January 15, 2014 to decide on the options given. The new set-up also effectively abolishes contractual and casual employees whose employment shall not go beyond December 15, 2013.
According to DepEd Sec. Armin Luistro the crafting and implementation of the rationalization plan were guided by the following principles: Clarity of Vision and Unity in Action, Rationality and Objectivity: Think DepEd, Individual Choice, Management Prerogative, Engaging People, Principle of Caring for and Enabling the People: “Makatao” and “No one left behind” and Matching People to Jobs.
Though all the stated principles are important in the over-all implementation of the re-organizational design the most crucial of which would be matching people to the jobs as it would determine how effective the rationalization plan is in the over-all output of the department.
“It is critical to put the right person in the right job and to give the right job to the right person,” the above-cited DepEd order further stated.
Luistro said in his order that the rationalization plan is also prompted by the “long-term reforms needed in the education sector notwithstanding the fast-changing demands of the local and global environment” which means that the new arrangement is also meant to address the perceived defects in the existing structure to make it more responsive and relevant to the call of the time.
Though the rationalization plan did not include employees at the school level but its effect would certainly trickle down to the lowest echelon of the DepEd organization. In fact, all its effects would bear down on the schools which are at the receiving end of any significant changes in policies and programs.
Its success or failure will bear out the wisdom behind its implementation which primarily aims for a “lean but mean” bureaucracy especially for the education department which has one of the biggest, if not the biggest, number of personnel. It goes without saying that there is a need to trim down the burgeoning bureaucracy to enable it to function more effectively but it should also not put the department in a position where its personnel would be over-burdened simply because the plan failed to consider some basic factors.
Better yet, those affected personnel, especially in the regional and division levels, who are qualified, capable and willing to teach be fielded instead to schools where there are shortages of teachers. This would allow for a better teacher-pupil ratio especially in barangay elementary schools where teachers handle multi-grade classes due to shortage of personnel.
This would be vital in light of the implementation of the K-to-12 curriculum which would require additional teaching personnel taking into account the experience, trainings and seminars attended by those would be affected by the rationalization plan.
It is therefore critical that the rationalization plan also considers the needs on the ground although schools are not affected by the plan as earlier stated. We are confident though that this matter did not escape the attention of the members of the Change Management Team which crafted the plan.
Soon, if the rationalization plan is fully and properly implemented, we will see a leaner DepEd functioning more efficiently and effectively.