PMO Orders DoPT to Ensure Empanelment of Group A Officers for Important Posts in Key Departments
Seems like “Acche din” for employees of Central Government’s various Group A services are not far away: 7th Pay Commission is around the corner, and now it seems like the issue for which they’ve been protesting since long is also being heard by the government. PMO has decided to shift its preference towards specialists from “elite-generalists” to fill important posts in key departments. Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has been instructed to ensure that all Group A service officers are considered eligible for empanelment in a timely manner. The new approach may also increase the quality of bureaucracy in key government departments.
High-power posts in key departments have almost always been occupied in large quantities by IAS officers. In 1972, 30 out of 45 secretaries were IAS officers. In 1984, 35 out of 61 were IAS officers. In 1995, 71 out of 92 secretary posts were filled from IAS officers. Same is true for Joint and Additional Secretaries as well: around 75% of currently appointed joint secretaries and 85% of additional secretaries are from IAS. Overall 73 out of 91 secretaries appointed currently have come from IAS.
The unfair thing about this preference is selection criteria, which is based on bias rather than merit. The dominance of IAS officers for these goes up all the way to selection authorities like DoPT and Cabinet Secretariat, as majority of their members are IAS officers themselves.
Needless to say that this bias towards IAS has not gone down well across the circles of Group A officers. They have been protesting to government from quite sometime now that this biased dominance of IAS officers should be ended and chances should be given to the merit. According to them this makes sense because an IRS (Indian Revenue Services) officer with 35 years of experience may be more competent for the post of Finance Ministry’s Head of Revenue Department rather than an IAS. Similarly, IPS (Indian Police Services) officers also find it very disturbing that Internal Security Department of Union Ministry is completely void of IPS officers.
However, as you may expect, this movement of Group A officers has earned the disdain of IAS officers, who have declared a cyber war against Group A officers. They’ve been organizing their protest in the form of tweets and individual letters to DoPT, Cabinet Secretariat and Pay Commission.
It’ll be good to see if Group A officers get what is rightfully theirs.