Don’t just trust the impressive annual confidential reports of state civil officers. Test them again to harvest the best.
The Union Public Service Commission has told the government to overhaul the induction process for state civil servants into the three elite All India Services (AIS): Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS) and Indian Forest Service (IFS).
In its new form, state civil service officers will have to clear, like fresh recruits to the IAS and other All India Services, a written test and face an interview panel in Delhi to make the cut.
Nearly 350 state civil service officers are inducted into the three All India Services every year.
According to existing rules, one-third of the sanctioned strength of AIS officers can be inducted through promotions from state services.
But they all make it to the prestigious services on the strength of the state government’s recommendations, backed by their Annual Confidential Reports (ACR) which rank their performance as outstanding.
Selection committees presided by a UPSC member ordinarily meet annually to select the state government officials for promotion.
“Given how a government function, it is not always a very fair system,” a senior official at the Department of Personnel and Training acknowledged. Only one in three officers — who comes with a recommendation of the state government for recruitment into the AIS — makes it.
Besides, officers need to be on the right side of the political executive of the states concerned to have their names recommended.
The UPSC recently completed a review of the present system of holding selection committee meetings based on the ACRs of state service officers and recommended a three tier recruitment process to introduce a competitive examination, an interview and an assessment of service records to fill up the promotion quota.
“This would have the salutary effect of encouraging competition and privileging merit,” UPSC chairman Prof. D.P. Agarwal said last week.
The UPSC chairman said such a system could, in time, be extended to promotions within the Central Services as well.