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Modi govt plans to scrap ‘opaque’ empanelment process for civil servants, to advertise posts

Move which is part of govt’s reform plan for the civil services also includes the possibility of assigning task of key appointments to UPSC.

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New Delhi: The Modi government, as part of its move to reform the civil services, is considering doing away with the empanelment process through which officers are appointed to top positions in the administration, ThePrint has learnt.

The plan is to replace empanelment with advertising for posts — a system that will give a level-playing field to officers across the services and reduce the hegemony of the IAS. If it goes through, the move will radically upend the manner in which IAS, IFS, IRS and other officers are selected and appointed at the central level.

Sources said the government is considering opening up all positions above the level of joint secretary to public advertisements. The advertisement will specify detailed eligibility criteria for officers — joint secretary, additional secretary and secretary — like 20-plus years of service. All central civil servants who fulfil the criteria from across services will be free to apply for the positions.

Also under discussion is the possibility of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) appointing officers from the pool of applications received through the advertisement, the sources added.

If implemented, the process will achieve the twin purpose of bringing parity in promotions and appointments between IAS officers and those from other services, as well as encouraging domain expertise within ministries by allowing officers from specialised services to man the ministries in their area, an official said.

Being empanelled means clearance has been given to an officer to be appointed to a particular post. In the current process, a certain batch of officers from a service is empanelled, and subsequently officers from that batch act as a pool from which key appointments are made.

Certain officers may be excluded from the process even when their batch is empanelled on account of vigilance issues, appraisals, 360-degree review etc.

Last month, ThePrint had reported that in its five-year vision document, the Department of Personnel and Training had said the government will overhaul the system of selecting top officials for senior positions at the central level by reforming the decades-old empanelment process.

The process has often been seen to be somewhat opaque by officers. The government is of the view that it is also very slow, and the delays in empanelment often result in several senior officials in services other than the IAS joining at the Centre at junior positions.

Also read: To break IAS grip, Modi govt is picking more non-IAS officers for top jobs

‘An equaliser among services’

The move, if implemented, will act as an equaliser among all central civil services, an official said.

IAS officers have a more lenient eligibility criteria for empanelment in terms of the number of years of experience they require to be appointed to posts of joint secretary and above.

For example, while the latest batch of IAS officers to be empanelled as joint secretary is 2002, the latest batches of other services like the Indian Railway Service or the Indian Revenue Service is 1997 or 1998.

The process has often been criticised by other services. For instance, last year, the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) Association had written to PM Narendra Modi flagging the “biases” in the process.

“Currently, no officer from the IRS is at the secretary level, or even at the additional secretary level. The systematic discrimination has led to a negligible number of officers from our service having an opportunity to work at that level,” the letter had said.

The appointments, the letter added, are made based on “affiliation to the IAS”, ignoring the “merit and competence of other services”.

Ever since the Modi government has come to power, it has empanelled more officers from other services in order to bring about more parity among all services.

Also read: These are the new steps Modi govt is planning to make civil services dynamic & attractive


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  1. IAS has got transformed from the British Steel frame whose prime mandate was revenue collection from unprotected civilian Indian population to a Glass ceiling to throttle the growth of creativity ,excellence expertise and enterprise in the country.It is not a surprise that the IAS lobby has scuttled the JS empanelment of Railway services to create a gap of 10 years vis a vis IAS.
    So the last IRSE empanelment is 1992 batch(1991 exam) and last IAS batch is 2002(2001 exam).
    The obvious reason is to create the artificial delay for other than IAS so as to render the empanelment meaningless. To understand the affect of this delay consider as an analogy that a student fit to sit in class 10th ,if asked to sit in class 1 due to delay,would never like to sit in class 1.Nice strategy to discourage an otherwise suitable and capable student.
    This delay, if not Deliberate, is obviously a proof of existence of a self serving ecosystem where inefficiency(For other than self), is the means of survival.
    Almost all departments are headed by such people who are product of an ecosystem where core success Rests on their collective ability to sustain inefficiency, of course, at the cost of the people who are ruled.
    Why are IAS afraid of facing competition?When RBI governors can be brought from Global market for a fixed tenure of 3-5 years,When even a PM is expected to work for 16hours a day to deliver and perform within 5 years, why do we need stale generalists with more than 30 years of working in a zero Competition cocoons to head and fire the Engines of growth.
    No Sir, you must match the energy of your PM and cabinet ministers.Do not be a drag on the country.Learn to face open competition, keep your self abreast of latest knowledge.Stop running on button controlled electric machines in cosy gyms.To run the country ,you must be fit to swim in the troubled waters of Global VUCA world.Learn to be a man and face the competition or prepare to retire with a good pension package.

  2. You give a command to IAS and it is bound to fail.. ISRO, Universities, IITs, defence are free from IAS that is why they are doing better..they may be good administrator but not domain expert or good policy makers..

  3. This will be a good move… This unwritten rule followed till now should be done away in appointing IAS to central top posts….

  4. The intent seems to be good. If the new system is implemented with fairness, with the UPSC associated with it, it should allow a lot more talent to emerge. With widespread disappointment over the results delivered by the bureaucracy, the IAS must accept that the system requires reform and change.

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