Explainer: Understanding the BBMP Work Order Finance Process
February 09, 2024 Vaidya R
What are the processes that drive the works that the BBMP carries out – from filling a pothole, clearing a storm-water drain to installing new streetlights? How does the money flow from the budget to the actual work? Where can you track this flow of money, including details of the contractors who executed the job?Basically, assuming that there is a work that you see on the ground – like relaying of a road or cleaning up a storm-water drain or waste collection related, how do you track its progress from budget to ground?
The first thing to know is which department the work falls under. Most works like roads, drains and streetlights fall under “Engineering”. Parks come under “Horticulture” and waste collection related activities under “Solid waste management”.
Once you have found the department, what happens next?
The first thing you need to know is if the work has been sanctioned. Every work will have a sanction order. Work starts with sanction order. A Sanction order is the formal decision that BBMP will do a particular work.
A sanction order contains the name of the authority who sanctioned, usually the head of account (zonal funds, mayors funds etc) under which the work is being taken up, scope of the work (what exactly is to be done), rough cost of the work, date of sanction. Even though works without sanction order is illegal, it’s done very commonly.
After the sanction order there is the tender to invite contractors to bid. Often there may be no tender, especially for smaller works. A small drain cleaning job can be done by the engineer or zonal commissioner without tendering. But if the work is tendered, there will be a tender notification.
After the tender comes the work order. Even if the job is not tendered, the work order is mandatory. A work order is an order to somebody to do the work. A work order will therefore include information like date, name of the contractor, their address and company, scope of the work, time limit to complete the work, and the signature of the officer who assigned the work order. However, in the work orders for solid waste management, the scope of work is not specified, only the manpower is mentioned.
Work orders can be issued even if it’s not in the budget, provided that money for the work order need not be released in that FY itself (money can come in the next FY). But issuing a work order without sanction order is illegal.
The actual work starts with the work order and from the day of the work order there’s an obligation on the contractor to complete the work. Details of the work should be displayed prominently at the work site as well. It needs to be noted that a lot of “works” are sometimes, however, just word of mouth.
Driving accountability and transparency
While the flow seems clear for most works, it is not always straightforward. A work order is not linked to the budget. Sometimes a work will show up as a combo name in the budget. Sometimes the money mentioned in the budget may not actually be there, in the case of combo works, it might be budgeted the next FY. In the case of discretionary funds and grants like Mayor and ministerial grants, there is little clarity on how works proceed through these funds. These are gaps in tracing the money.
The BBMP is supposed to review the works every month and check how far the budget has been implemented. In case an emergency work has to be taken up, and if something is not working out – a works committee and council need to be formed. However these steps are not done systematically and deliberately. The result is that works are given out at random to contractors.
Many large heads of accounts are not allocated by sector at all. For instance, the zonal grant or discretionary grant is usually allocated as a lumpsum figure, without making it clear to the public how it is to be used. The Amrutha Nagarothana Grant from the State Government was the exception as it clearly marked out where the money was to be spent.
Tracking work orders and sanction orders
For many works, neither sanction order or work order might be there, and they could have been initiated entirely orally. In such cases there may not be a paper trail. It’s impossible for people to track the works in such cases, as you can’t track it on the website.
When there is no sanction order, you can’t know that they have decided to start the work – the sanction order is the only legal proof that the work has started. Only then can you ask for the work order, and then look for the budget allocation, check the deadline and the revised sanction order if the scope of the work changes or more money is needed. When it comes to revisions, the same authority who sanctioned the first work has to revise it, and also give the revised work order.
Role of Ward Committee
Ward committee should be looking at the status of works undertaken, and hold the in-charge officer (whose name will be in the work order) accountable. Ideally the ward committee should be asking these officials and they need to respond.
The Rural Works Programme under Government of India’s RDPR, which has been going on from the late 1990s is a good example to emulate. It is perfectly sanctioned, quality control, audit, payment are all done systematically and available for the public to see. Because these are major works, such processes are enforced. It needs to be replicated for every job undertaken by BBMP, no matter the size.
However, a lot of challenges with accountability and transparency is systemic. The information that citizens need to know has been kept deliberately kept out of their reach. Citizens need to know whether work has been sanctioned (sanction order) and who is carrying out the work (work order). Without these two, they cannot know the details of the work to be done. And lastly, people need to know about arrangements to pay the contractor and how much is being paid. Once systems ensure these are there, people can know about the works undertaken and how they are progressing.
Online links to sanction order and work order should be provided for all works. Scope of work should be clear, only then independent citizen verifications can be done. Details of status of the work, whether the work is fully done and whether fully paid for should also be mentioned clearly and easy to find.
- BBMP Works Bill Public View site: https://account.bbmpgov.in/PublicView/?l=1
You can search at ward-level and download the data in the form of xlsx or pdf.
- BBMP Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS): https://account.bbmpgov.in/vsswb/
Use this site to look for work orders, payments, receipts etc.
Work orders from BBMP are also available on OpenCity, ward-wise from 2013-2022, and 2022-23.
- Tenders Site: https://eproc.karnataka.gov.in/eprocurement/common/eproc_tenders_list.seam.
Tenders for BBMP can be found under Department “BBMP”.
BBMP tenders for 2013-14 to 2017-18 can be found here on OpenCity.
[Explainer was put together with resources from Navya PK, Meera K and Sandeep Anirudhan]