Reforming the Bureaucracy

June 13, 2018
1 year

Why in news?

Union government recently announced lateral entry of joint secretaries as a measure of reform in bureaucracy.

What is the role of IAS officers in governance?

  • IAS officers are selected through the Civil Services Examination (CSE) conducted by the UPSC.
  • About 200-300 trainee officers are selected from this examination and attend sectoral training after selection.
  • The functioning of the state machinery, from the appointment of employees to disbursement of funds, requires the explicit approval of IAS officers.
  • The head of the department is the secretary, who is an IAS officer and whose typical term is of three years.
  • As per the Constitution, the secretary is responsible for the smooth functioning of the entire department.
  • This includes the day-to-day running, effecting improvements in its functioning and outcomes, making suitable suggestions to the minister, etc.

What are the concerns with the role of secretaries?

  • In the system of bureaucracy there is no guarantee that the secretary has the required training, background or expertise in enterprise management.
  • This means that the entire department must rely on the long experience across departments and the “superior understanding” of the secretary.
  • If the state wants to initiate disciplinary action against a particular officer, it requires the permission of the central government.
  • Any reform depends on the chance that the secretary is open to inputs from his subordinate senior managers, the outcomes of such a system are obviously patchy.

What is the need for decision on lateral entry of officers?

  • The planning, design and test procedures being used by the engineers and geologists in various government department are outdated.
  • The antiquated job profiles of government servants and moribund senior administration are important reasons for a creeping privatisation and periodic freezes on state recruitments.
  • It is also responsible for the absence of new professions, new research and smart companies in several key sectors such as water, public transport and logistics.
  • This called for a drastic change in the structure of the department and the roles and responsibilities of IAS officers.
  • The recently proposed lateral entry is one such mechanism at the Union level.

What further measures needs to be taken?

  • Every government department should create a new section called “Analysis and Research (AR)”, which is led by an officer at the level of a deputy secretary.
  • The section should be adequately staffed at the division and district level and have its own guaranteed funding.
  • The main task of the deputy secretary will be to prepare and maintain a detailed documentation of the working procedures within the department.
  • Such reports will ensure that the people at large appreciate the scale of the problems and are mobilised to work towards their solution.
  • It will also help students, researchers, funding agencies and industry to identify problem areas and come forward with possible approaches to bring improvements in the sector.


Source: Indian Express


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