Merit is the mantraBy implementing a number of principles, the Public Service Commission has managed to gain public support
The Public Service Commission is a constitutional body established on June 15, 1941. Its major objective is to conduct different kinds of examinations and select suitable candidates for the civil service. It also conducts written examinations for security agencies like the Nepal Army, Nepal Police and Armed Police Force besides public enterprises, banks and boards. The commission has adopted a number of principles which have helped it to gain public trust and wide support.
One, a code number is put on the first page of the answer sheet used in examinations where a candidate’s details like the name, address, father’s name and roll number are written. After the answer sheets have been collected at the end of the examination, part of the front page of the answer sheet is torn out and kept separately and secretly. The remaining part of the front page with the second code is torn out again and kept in the same way under the supervision of high officials of the Public Service Commission. This system is called double coding system. A person who is involved in the first coding process is not allowed to take part in the second coding process.
A person who is involved in one process of a secret task is not permitted to be involved in another stage of the same task. This rule is applied to all experts, subject specialists, division heads, section heads and other staff.
Fairness, impartiality, secrecy
During different stages of an examination, like raw question setting, moderation of questions, evaluation of answer sheets, group discussion, individual presentation and interview, the commission invites subject experts separately and secretly. It always encourages experts in different critical issues to give their opinions and views during the course of the evaluation. The commission also seeks the opinions and legal views of related agencies like ministries, courts and departments as necessary.
The examination system keeps candidates unidentified till the final stage of evaluation. All candidates who have the required qualifications, for example academic qualification, age, experience, citizenship, council registration document and equivalent letter can compete in the examinations. The commission assures fairness and maintains impartiality. Candidates who meet the criteria can apply and compete for vacant posts.
The Public Service Commission is synonymous with the merit system. Candidates are given marks during different stages of the examination like written test, group discussion, computer skill test, individual presentation, case study analysis and individual oral interview on the merit system. Candidate who get high marks proceed to the next stage of the examination and the final selection.
Only successful candidates can see their total number on the commission’s website seven days after the final results are published and for the next seven days. If any candidate applies for a re-totalling, he or she will be publicly informed of the result of the re-totalling on websites and through newspapers. One section or division of the commission cannot see or find out what other sections are doing. If any candidate breaks the rules and regulations of the examination, he or she will be expelled or suspended for a certain period.
Due to the highly sensitive nature of the commission’s responsibilities, the central office always sends representatives to maintain fairness, impartiality and secrecy during examinations at the regional and zonal offices. For secret and sensitive tasks, central representatives will be seconded to regional and zonal offices for a certain period to conduct examinations and interviews.
Marks are given for written examination presentation, group discussion, case study analysis and interview based on the principle of central tendency to minimise bias. The level of evaluation is defined clearly in the interview. Examiners can give a minimum of 40 percent and a maximum of 70 percent of the full mark. In case of a written examination, the maximum mark is 70 percent.
Double checking system
Recently, the commission has started a double checking system for joint secretary and under-secretary level answer sheets to check behavioural errors of examiners. The principle of staying separately and secretly in a group until the secret job is completed is applied when question papers are being printed and exam results are being prepared and published. Under the principle of keeping important documents secret, all documents of the Public Service Commission are kept sealed.
If any relative of a staff member of the Public Service Commission is going to appear in an examination, the staff member is kept separate from the whole process. This principle also applies to experts, officials, chairpersons and members of the Public Service Commission.
On the basis of the above mentioned principles, the Public Service Commission can stand as a reliable and citizen-centric institution. It is held in high regard by Nepali society. The credit for this goes to the chairperson and members of the Public Service Commission, personnel, experts, subject specialists, intellectuals and Members of Parliament. It is hoped that the commission will be successful in holding its image high forever.
Sharma is joint secretary in the Public Service Commission