Draft guidelines in this regard have been circulated by the Personnel Ministry to all central government departments asking them to send their comments on it by May 21, failing which, it would be presumed that they are in agreement with the proposed draft.
Preparing for life amid Covid-19 pandemic, the ministry said that the steps were being initiated because the virus necessitated many ministries to operate from home to maintain social distancing.
According to the draft, the government may provide option for work from home to the eligible officers and staff for 15 days in a year as a matter of policy. There are 4.83 million central government employees.
"Many of the ministries and departments in government have successfully managed and rendered exemplary results in combat against the ongoing pandemic outbreak during the lockdown period by leveraging e-office and video conferencing facilities of National Informatics Centre (NIC). This was the first of its kind of experience in Government of India,” it said.
It is quite likely that for the near future, the central secretariat will continue to go for staggered attendance and variable working hours to maintain social distancing at workplace, the ministry said.
"Therefore, a broad framework for work from home is important to standardize the operating procedure even post-lockdown situation and to ensure safety and security of information, while accessing government files and information remotely from home," it said.
The draft has given broad Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that will ensure smooth and seamless functioning of the government for continuity of the office works besides imparting resilience in the ecosystem even in post-lockdown situation.
"Department of Expenditure may consider reimbursement for data uses to the officers working from home and if required may issue separate guidelines in this regard," the draft guidelines said.
However, the draft makes it clear that papers marked "classified or secret" will not be processed while working from home for the time being till the NIC evaluates existing security protocol for remote access of classified files and information in consultation with Home Ministry and propose suitable guidelines and SOP for handling such material on e-office. "Till the time classified files shall be processed on standalone computers only as specified in the Central Secretariat Manual of Office Procedure (CSMOP)," it said.
The personnel ministry said the officers to whom official laptops are provided shall ensure that they do the official work on the official device only.