The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) is pushing for the reintegration of government workers in the regular work set up to prevent the decline in quality of government services amid complaints that government employees are unable to deliver services because they are working from home.
ARTA is proposing the implementation of 100-percent operational capacity for frontline government services, including back end services supporting frontline services, for all work days of the week.
This should not include employees who were accorded with special protection under Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular No. 18, Series of 2020, which includes minors and senior citizens, persons with comorbidities and persons with disabilities, and pregnant and nursing mothers. The said individuals may be assigned to a unit not requiring 100-percent operational capacity.
Other offices or units of the agency may operate at 50-percent capacity. This may decrease or increase depending on the health crisis situation.
This is also in accordance with Inter-Agency Task Force of Emerging Infectious Diseases' Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the Philippines, which states that amid the pandemic, agencies and instrumentalities of the government shall be fully operational with a skeleton workforce on-site and the rest under alternative work arrangements.
Secretary Jeremiah Belgica, ARTA Director General, said this is because the agency has been receiving multiple complaints against government workers allegedly using alternative working arrangements as an excuse to be inefficient in their work.
Belgica also noted how, during ARTA's surprise inspections, some government agencies were found to be implementing cut-off schemes and had backlogs of pending applications, which are violations of Republic Act No. 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018.
Government workers said the lapses in their services are due to their lack of manpower amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
With long queues and government delays and inaction on transactions, some applicants resorted to engaging with fixers.
Temporary or half-baked online services were developed and deployed in a bid to continue providing services to the public but these did not last as technical glitches forced them to cease operations.
The ARTA chief stressed that the alternative working arrangements were done for the pandemic only, but this should not be used as an excuse for government agencies not becing able to fully dispense their
He said that ARTA will be investigating such excuses. “They can be subject to any administrative liabilities and may face charges for dereliction of duty,” he said.
The Authority also noted that some agencies were not able to provide their employees with basic support during the implementation of alternative work arrangements due to budget constraints.
With no proper working tools, internet allowance, and shuttle services, the employees' productivity were affected.
ARTA proposed that agencies should fast track their employees' vaccination for protection and coordinate with local government units to secure supplies of COVID-19 vaccines.
The provision of face shields and other personal protective equipment for government employees was also proposed, along with the installation of acrylic glass or plastic barriers in the frontline area.
A proper consultation among government agencies will also be conducted before officially requiring all government personnel to report physically to their offices.