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The Uttar Pradesh IAS Association is seeking more transparency in the process of empanelment of IAS officers for central deputation.

New Delhi: The Modi government’s corporate-style 360-degree evaluation for civil servants is like “an opaque black box,” which is extremely vulnerable to misuse, chairman of the Uttar Pradesh IAS Association Pravir Kumar has said.

Asking for more transparency in the process of empanelment of IAS officers for central deputation, the UP IAS Association Saturday passed a resolution urging the Centre to make the process less opaque.

“It is a very non-transparent process, which goes against the principle of natural justice because no officer knows why they are being empanelled or rejected,” Kumar told ThePrint.

“With the ACR (annual confidential report), you could at least see the score you have been given, and if you felt it was unfair, you could protest, and put your side of the story out,” Kumar said.

“But with this feedback, you don’t know who has said what about you, so you have no basis to protest.”

Asked if there have been any cases of misuse, Kumar said, “I can’t comment on whether there have been cases of misuse or not, but this system is like an opaque box, and is vulnerable to misuse.

“We are not against getting feedback, but against the opaqueness with which it is used,” he added.


Also read: Second push for lateral entry into IAS sees applications fall by half


‘Anyone can say anything about you’

In 2015, the Modi government introduced a 360-degree appraisal system meant to supplement the existing system of ACRs.

The ACR is based on the submissions of an expert panel which would review officers’ full service records and all previous annual reports along with reports from the vigilance department.

However, soon after coming to power, the Modi government added another element to this system.

According to the approved changes, a panel of experts would collect views from the candidate’s colleagues — both senior and junior — as well as from people outside the government.

The panel would collect the views of these people described as “stakeholders” on a prescribed form. Both their feedback and the people themselves would remain anonymous.

“You don’t know who is giving this feedback — are they retired officers, MPs, MLAs? Nobody knows,” Kumar argued.

The association is all set to forward the resolution the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT).

More criticism

While the system was brought into place as a means to seek a comprehensive review of an officer’s performance, this is not the first time it is being challenged for being arbitrary.

In 2017, a Parliamentary Standing Committee on personnel, public grievances, law and justice highlighted serious flaws in the way the 360-degree appraisal system was being applied.

“The feedback received from subordinates and stakeholders may be biased and lack objectivity, particularly if the officer had to discipline his subordinates or he was unable to meet the unjustified demands of stakeholders,” the panel had said.

Making the same point as the one made by the UP IAS Association, it had also said, “Acting on feedbacks so received puts the concerned officer in a disadvantageous position as the remedies available to him in case his annual appraisal report has not been written objectively are not available to him in this process.

“Acting on such feedback behind the back of the officer may not be legally tenable.”

The provision, the panel also observed, was brought about through an executive order and not any regulations or law.

The 360 degree review also violates provisions of the Right To Information Act by denying information on the feedback received under RTI, explained Punjab IAS Association president K.B.S. Sidhu.

“The government’s empanelment scheme based on the 360 degree review also seems to be repugnant to the aforesaid provisions of the RTI Act, where all administrative and quasi-judicial decisions must be given reasons,” he said.

Later that year, 1982-batch IAS officer Vineet Chawdhary filed a plea in the Central Administrative Tribunal, questioning the legal validity of the system.

After his plea, Chawdhary, who had been denied promotion to a secretary-level position under the system in August 2017, was appointed the chief secretary of Himachal Pradesh the same year in December.


Also read: This is why UPSC has invited fresh applications for lateral entry into IAS


‘Even the ACR is managed’

However, an IAS officer currently on central deputation said on condition of anonymity that the 360-degree evaluation is actually a way to deal with the already arbitrary ACR system.

“The ACRs are always managed and are totally subjective… If your reporting boss thinks you are good, you will get a good ACR, if he thinks you are bad, he will jeopardise your ACR,” the officer said.

“With the 360-degree system, even if the ACR is managed, what others think about you cannot be managed.”

Moreover, relying on ACRs alone also throws up the issue of state IAS lobbies, explained the officer.

“Some states have a strong lobby, and are liberal with giving good ACRs, so a lot of officers will come on empanelment from those states…Other states, which are conservative, will send very few officers.”

This report has been modified to add Sidhu’s response.

Check out My543, our comprehensive report card of all Lok Sabha MPs.


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11 Comments Share Your Views

11 COMMENTS

  1. The Modi government’s way of seeking the opinion of former bosses and juniors about a bureaucrat is one of the best things to have happened to the bureaucracy in India. ‘Transparency’ talk by senior non-performing bureaucrats is the most amazing example of double speak. It needs to be rejected immediately for being so much hog-wash. The Chawdhary case did nothing. Having a trusted CS in the state has nothing to do with empanelment. Some CSs are not empanelled. Presuming that someone who can work as CS should also be eligible for Secretaryship in the government of India is the kind of quibble that courts can easily put down by referring to India’s federal structure in which what is sauce for the goose is not always the sauce for the gander. The bureaucracy in India has been fighting tooth and nail against any evaluation of their output. Under the circumstances, the present evaluation system is good. At least it allows for the bureaucracy some independence from their political bosses as is envisaged in the Constitution of India. Otherwise, India’s bureaucrats under Manmohan Singh had become the handmaidens of India’s politicians with only the judiciary left to oppose both of them. To ensure that the system of checks and balances works well it is important to ensure that no one arm of the state becomes the hand maiden of any other

  2. The IAS lobby needs to be more accountable to the public or elected representatives from the public and other stake holders from public. All representatives in the constituency falling in the concerned officers jurisdiction should vote on a scale of 1 to 10 every year through an app. If they are demanding transparency the scores should be made public. The top 10% and bottom 10% scores should not be considered while arriving at a final score.(This can eliminate personal grudges or return of favors) The final score shall be the avg of 80%. This score can carry a 50% weight in total performance. Thus officers will become more people friendly.

  3. Will these IAS officers allow the same yardstick for other u.p. govt.services? It’s only for themselves that they seek transparency but for others, they’ll continue with opaque methods to sustain their influence.

  4. May the IAS body should beat Modi at the review. And expose 10 of its 100s of IAS members. I am sure there are 10 corrupt ones the chief knows off.

  5. Annual confidential reports lost objectivity. Lot of subjectivity crept into the system. There is certain provisions where the reports need not be communicated , though the contents are slightly adverse. Some experts with broad outlook should finalise the whole exercise with out giving my h room to political decesion. Hope IAS lobby will succeed .

  6. Even the public should also have there opinion about the officers who have direct interection with public. Most of the bureocrates are ill mannered and ill bahaved. My experience with some of them are very disgusting.

  7. A measure of this nature should have been adopted after extensive consultation with the various state associations, also with very distinguished retired mandarins.

  8. Sychofancy is a Congress trait. Otherwise a complete buffoon like the present congress leader wouldn’t be “elected”!! It is toadies like you who make this happen and can’t look beyond a Gandhi!!!

    Open you horizons, go and read and discuss on what a 360 degree evaluation is. Most professional companies use this to assess their employees and it is proper tried and tested evaluation and assessment method

    • The trick is to pick up modern nomenclature like 360 or whatever, and through its camouflage, push the Gujarati age-old concept of “Apdo Manus” — in translation, “our man”. Mr Mehta, if you are a Gujarati you will know what I am talking about. (Mehta surname is common in Gujarat).

      No thanks, I’m no one’s toady. I don’t belong to any party or group; I’m happy to have an independent mind.

  9. “Anyone can say anything about you”, but the point is, WHOSE word will carry more weight?!

    Very clearly according to me, after seeing Modi government’s way of working, it will be the word of sycophants that will be given more importance. Which means, of those who follow the Hindutva brand of the RSS and BJP.

    This is clearly a way devised by Modi government to fill higher echelons of IAS with Hindutva brigade. This should be fought against vehemently not only by the IAS community but by every right thinking person in the country.

    Modi government is devising one devious scheme after another, tirelessly, to COMPLETELY CRUSH the secular nature of our beloved country. Before this they had come up with the idea of lateral entry! The BJP was never so bad!

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