In a move that could end the monopoly of civil servants to key government posts, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has cleared an ambitious plan to induct private sector experts at the rank of joint secretary and additional secretary in the government.
There are nearly 480 joint secretary and 108 additional secretary rank posts in the central government. Not all of them, however, would be immediately open for outsiders.
The plan - that has been under discussion within the government for years - would initially cover positions that require "technical and specialized knowledge" and are not earmarked for any particular cadre of government officers.
The department of personnel & training (DoPT) has asked central ministries and departments to identify such positions.
Once this process in complete, the government will finalise the recruitment process for each category of posts along with the Union Public Service Commission.
Civil servants too would be able to make a pitch for these posts in competition with private sector experts including academics. Each post would have a term of three to five years.
But if government officials want the market-drive consolidated salary, they will first have to quit their job. There is a cap of R 2 lakh on the monthly salary but there can be exceptions and each such case will also need the approval of the finance ministry.
"The objective is to ensure availability of the best talent for these higher level posts in government and to bring in a higher sense of participation among citizens who would have an opportunity to contribute in the higher echelons of the government provided they possess the right qualifications and experience for the job," a concept note circulated by Mukta Goel, director at DoPT said.
Officials said PM Manmohan Singh had been keen on the idea for years but the proposal always ended up in the deep freezer.
It is still not clear how far the suggestion will go because it is dependent on the civil servants "identifying" posts suitable for such lateral induction.
But one official suggested this was done to make the civil service a part of the reform process rather than ram it down their throat.
On his part, Singh did manage to induct Nandan Nilekani as the head of the unique identity project and Raghu Raman to construct a national intelligence grid.
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