Work from home for Government employees: DoPT drafts ‘work from home’ norms for Central ministries, departments | India News

NEW DELHI: Stating that the Central secretariat may continue to observe staggered attendance and variable working hours to maintain social distancing in the near future, the department of personnel and training (DoPT) has come out with draft framework for ‘work from home’ (WFH) that seeks to facilitate smooth remote operation of e-office in all Central Ministries and departments.
Presently about 75 ministries and departments are actively using e-office platform of which 57 have achieved more than 80% of their work in e-office. The remaining ministries/departments would also endeavour for expeditious implementation of e-office in a time bound manner, states the WFH consultation paper. Comments of all ministries and departments have been sought on the draft by May 21, 2020.
The proposed WFH framework states that DoPT may provide option of WFH to the eligible officers/ staff for 15 days in a year as a matter of policy.
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As per the draft WFH norms, drawn up in consultation with all Central ministries and departments, no classified information shall be handled through e-office. NIC may evaluate the existing security protocol for remote access of classified file/ information in consultation with MHA and propose suitable guidelines and standard operating procedures for handling classified information in e-office. Till the time classified files shall be processed on standalone computers only.
Ministries/departments, with the approval of the respective heads of department, can provide VPN to the officers up to the level of section officers, rather than to the level of deputy secretary and above as permitted currently, to access the electronic files remotely on secured network. This would be based on the functional requirements in their ministry/departments, subject to the proper due diligence for security aspects.
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It is proposed in the WFH draft that logistic support in the form of laptop/ desktop, shall be decided by the ministries/departments in accordance with the orders issued by the Department of Expenditure on March 27, 2020. Ministries may use the inventory of laptops on rotational basis for the officers who are working from home and need such logistic support.
The draft framework for WFH states that officers to whom official laptops are provided, shall ensure that they do official work on the official device only. NIC shall ensure that their devices are well protected against malware and malicious websites. The officers who are working on their personal computers/ lap tops shall ensure installing regular updates, running antivirus scans, blocking malicious sites, etc with the help of NIC.

Department of expenditure may consider reimbursement for data usage to the officers working from home.
SMS and email alert in e-office should be enabled so that the important files/data get immediate attention. Departmental NIC teams may work out SMS provisions for e-receipts and e-files in consultation with their ministries/departments.
Necessary emails can be made part of the e-file and maintained as digital record for future reference and processed as fresh receipts.
All VIP and Parliament matters require utmost attention. Therefore, SMS alerts must be sent for all such receipts and files to the next officer in the channel.
E-office has facility to link the important files and documents for referencing in e-files. However, to enable this feature in WFH environment, it is important that the important files/ folders /circulars are available in the knowledge management system of e-office. The ministries are therefore advised to make use of this feature in e-office.
To facilitate inter ministerial consultations, exchange of files between the ministries may be made seamlessly in e-office.
Central Registry Unit (CRU) shall remain functional to receive the physical dak/ receipts in the ministry. CRU staff will scan and forward the receipt to the concerned officer in e-office as well as in his official e-mail.
As per the draft WFH framework, NIC video conferencing facility shall be leveraged to organise important meetings while working from home. Officers and staff shall attend the meetings by activating VC link forwarded to them by NIC in formal meeting set up. VCs shall also be used as far as possible in office environment to maintain social distancing.
It shall be incumbent on a ministry/department to create a help desk manned by technical persons. The NIC central help desk may be contacted if advanced technical assistance is required.
Officers who are working from home shall be available on phone as per requirements and directions of their officers.

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