Different orders/instructions have been issued by Government from time to time on the procedure to be followed by Secretariat Departments in regard to official visits abroad by cadre and non-Cadre Officers. Currently, a uniform procedure is not being followed by Departments in sponsoring officers for foreign visits. Sometimes, the Departments are circulating files to Chief Minister directly and proposals are sent to the Nodal Department i.e., G.A.D., to place before the Screening Committee without justification, information regarding availability of budget in the relevant head, break-up of expenditure, etc.;
It is, therefore, felt necessary to streamline the entire procedure and to issue consolidated instructions with a view to bringing uniformity in the processing of proposals of Departments for official for foreign visit. Accordingly, in supersession of the orders issued in the references cited above, the following consolidated guidelines/instructions are issued for the use of Departments in the processing proposals for such visits. These instructions shall also apply to officers of Govt. Corporations, Undertakings, Bodies funded by Government or Organisations which receive Government grants for salaries, travel and operational expenses.
(1) To regulate the official foreign visits of Cadre/Non-cadre officers, Government hereby constitute a Screening Committee with the following Members.
(a) Chief Secretary to Government … Chairman
(b) Spl.Chief Seretarty to Govt./ Prl. Secy to Govt. (EFS&T) Dept. … Member
(c ) Spl. Chief Secretary to Govt./ Prl. Secy to Govt. (Finance) … Member
(d) Chief Commissioner of Land Admini Stration & Spl. CS. … Member
(e) Prl. Secy/Secy to Govt.(Poll)., G.A.D … Member
All proposals for official foreign visit by officers shall be cleared by the above Screening Committee even when the officials are required to accompany Ministers as part of delegation.
In general, no proposal for official foreign visit abroad shall be proposed by any Department during the period when Legislature will be in session and when critical activities of the Department are to be undertaken, e.g. sowing season in the case of Department of Agriculture, rainy season in the case of Municipal Administration & Urban Development Departments etc.
All proposals for permission to undertake official visit abroad by officers shall be in the prescribed proforma and sent to General Administration Department along with checklists at least 15 days before the date of performing outward journey. The proposals must be duly recommended by the Special Chief Secretary/Principal Secretary/Secretary of the Department concerned. The Department should confirm that it has obtained the internal approvals on selection of candidates, duration of visit, budget allocation etc.,
The Department proposing foreign visits shall ensure that the proposed foreign visit expenditures are within the allotted budget under the relevant heads; no re-appropriation proposals should be considered. Where proposals involve Government of India funds, permission from the GoI authorities shall be obtained unless there are existing guidelines under the relevant Centrally Sponsored/Central Sector scheme permitting foreign visits. As per the “economy” instructions in the reference 8th cited issued recently, no foreign visits at the cost of State Exchequer will generally be allowed.
Every proposal for foreign visit shall contain the approximate expenditure of the proposed visit in the proforma prescribed, showing the break-up expenditure. It should be in consonance with the instructions issued by the Finance (TA) Department from time to time on the entitlement of TA and DA, class of travel by air etc., on foreign visit of the State Govt. officials and others.
The Special Chief Secretary/ Principal Secretary/ Secretary of the Department shall ensure that orders of the Screening Committee are invariably obtained by officers before they undertake foreign journey. Finance Department has been instructed to ensure that the relevant T.A bill, when preferred includes a certification by the officer submitting the bill that the Screening Committee approved the tour in its meeting on (dt. ……), failing which the bill will not be paid.
The Departments shall not normally entertain more than four visits of an officer abroad in a financial year at the cost of the Government or Government undertaking subject to budget availability and other norms. In general, the duration of visit should be restricted to one week. In the case of participation in a programme on particular dates, the visit shall be restricted to the days of that programme and normal journey time.
The Special Chief Secretary/Principal Secretary/Secretary of the Department concerned shall not, in general, proceed on tour together with the Heads of the Department at the same time.
Proposals for participation in study tours/workshops/ Conferences/seminars/Presentation of papers abroad at Government cost shall not be entertained except in cases which are fully or partly funded by the sponsoring agencies or where an approved scheme of the Department exists, subject, however, to the approval of the Screening Committee.
When Departments propose foreign visits based on invitations from a Foreign Government/International Agency/ Foreign Organization, etc., for participating in a programme with the costs fully paid for, they shall verify the details/credibility/standing of the agency/ organization before sending proposals to the Screening Committee. The Screening Committee will base its recommendations keeping in view the rules relating to acceptance of foreign hospitality. In the case of invitation received by the Government of India for a programme or from an international organization in which the Government of India is represented and the State Government selecting an officer to participate in the same, the visit shall be treated as on official deputation.
No foreign travel shall be undertaken by any official of the State Government financed by contractors for any purpose, particularly for quality assurance (QA), inspection of goods and equipments procured overseas and overseas study tours. Such travel shall not be included in the Contract as part of the obligation of the Contractor. Instead, where necessary, it should be provided for as a separate and distinct activity to be administered by the concerned Department, subject, however, to the approval of the “Screening Committee”. All Departments should ensure that future procurement contracts entered into with contractors do not contain such a provision. Departments are encouraged to seek the services of international verification agencies who employ specialized staff to undertaken such work & incorporate suitable provisions to that effect in the procurement agreement in consultation with Finance Department.
The Official visits of Ministers & Non officials in Corporations do not fall within the purview of the Screening Committee. Proposal involving such visits along with expenditure details should be circulated to the General Administration (Poll.D) Department well in advance for obtaining orders of the Chief Minister.
All permitted official foreign visit shall be subject to regulation (rescheduling/short-cutting/canceling) owing to official exigencies when the officer’s presence is considered essential for the discharge of his/her official duties before the scheduled departure.
Any permitted official foreign visit shall be performed only on receipt of the required clearances from the Government of India viz., political/ Cadre/DEA/FERA etc., from the Ministries concerned where applicable.
Other instructions/restrictions/guidelines prescribed by the Government of India from time to time, with regard to official foreign visits shall apply mutatis mutandis for considering cases by the Screening Committee.
Every officer/team undertaking foreign visit shall send a report to the concerned Special Chief Secretary/Principal Secretary/Secretary with copy marked to GAD within 1 week from return, highlighting the lessons learnt for possible replication in the State and also informing the details of foreign hospitality availed, if any.