Chanakya IAS Academy Blog


DoPT asked to prepare proposal on lateral entry into civil services

After green signal from Committee of Secretaries, Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) has been asked to look into the issue of lateral entry into civil services in the ministries that deal with economy and infrastructure.

Specifics of the proposal:

  • Lateral entry will be considered for appointment in the ranks of deputy secretary, director and joint secretary
  • Department of Personnel & Training(DoPT) in a recent policy paper had indicated a huge shortage of officers in the middle management level
  • Private sector executives or social workers would be screened through a matrix of experience and qualification, without taking into account their existing salaries
  • The final selection would be done by a committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary

Arguments in favour of lateral entry:

  • A judicious combination of domain knowledge and relevant expertise is a critical for governance
  • The second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) has also envisaged a shift in the top tier of government from career-based approach to post-based approach. ARC felt that civil servants ought to compete with domain experts from outside the regular civil service for senior positions
  • But there exists a need to enable genuine competition by setting up an independent authority to supervise the proposed recruitment process
  • Civil servants should also be allowed to do a stint in the private sector and come back to rejoin the civil service as per a pre-laid out protocol

Objections to lateral entry:

  • At senior decision-making levels, it increases the disconnect between policy making and implementation
  • There will be inequitable sharing of the benefits and burdens of government service, permanent civil servants left to bear the burden of humble implementation and lateral entrants getting access to glamorous policymaking positions, without having roughed it out in remote and rural India in the rough and tumble of Indian democracy
  • The experience of inducting private-sector managers to run public-sector enterprises is not particularly satisfactory
  • It has generally been perceived that a secure career path has become one of the biggest shortcomings of a career-based structure. This is simply not true. There is no assurance that all civil servants will automatically reach the highest positions
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