THE HOUSE of Representatives on Wednesday approved on second reading a bill seeking to rightsize the bureaucracy to improve the delivery of government services.

Lawmakers voted by voice to pass House Bill No. 7240 or the National Government Rightsizing Act, one of the House’s priority bills.

“The government shall… minimize, if not eliminate redundancies, overlaps and duplications in its operations and simplify its rules and regulations, and systems and processes, while protecting the welfare of civil servants and other government workers,” the bill stated.

The bill grants the President of the Philippines the authority to rightsize the different agencies of the Executive branch.

Under the bill, the President can scale down or eliminate functions, programs and projects “that could be better carried out or undertaken by the private sector or have already been devolved to LGUs (local government units).” The President can also transfer or integrate functions from one agency to another.

A Committee on Rightsizing the Executive Branch (CREB) will be created to review and study the roles, functions and manpower of different agencies under the Executive branch. The Executive Secretary will be the chairman of the committee, with the Budget Secretary as vice-chairperson.

The bill also detailed the retirement benefits and separation incentives for government employees affected by the rightsizing program.

For instance, a government employee who has worked in government for five to 11 years will get one-half of the actual monthly basic salary for every year of service. Those who have 31 years of service and above can get one and one-fourth of their actual monthly basic salary for every year of service.

A minimum of five years of government service is required before an affected worker can avail of the separation benefits.

If enacted into law, the rightsizing program should be implemented over a three-year period.

The program will cover all agencies under the Executive branch, namely departments, bureaus, offices, commissions, boards, councils, government-owned and -controlled corporations, and their attached agencies. LGUs may also rightsize their offices based on their financial capacity.

Budget Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman previously said that trimming the government workforce by 5% would save P14.8 billion in funds.

Although President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. has not certified the bill as urgent, he has expressed support for the program.

During his State of the Nation Address last year, he described rightsizing as  “a reform mechanism that seeks to enhance the government’s institutional capacity to perform its mandate and provide better services, while ensuring optimal and efficient use of resources.” — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz