More than 50 per cent of IAS officers have spent less than a year in their respective postings in the last two decades and less than 10 per cent of them have spent more than three years at the same posting for the same period.
In 1978, the country had 3084 IAS officers and 58 per cent of them had spent less than one year at a particular posting. As many as 55 per cent of them spent less than a year in the same posts in 1979, 60 per cent in 1981, 58 per cent in 1991, 48 per cent in 1996 and 55 per cent in 2006. Twenty-six per cent of the officers spent 1-2 years at their respective postings in 1978, 30 per cent in 1979, 22 per cent in 1981, 25 per cent in 1991, 28 per cent in 1996 and 27 per cent in 2006.
Only 6 per cent of them spent more than 3 years at their respective posts in 1978, 5 per cent in 1979, 7 per cent in 1981, 6 per cent in 1991, 11 per cent in 1996 and 8 per cent in 2006. The solitary year, when they spent more than three years at a post, was marginally higher than 10 per cent, in 1996.
These figures have been compiled by the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) in its Tenth Report from the IAS Civil List for the relevant years. The report said short tenures are not only characteristic of the administration at the lower echelons, but are also a regular feature in the higher civil services which include the IAS, IPS etc.
The Tenth Report said: “Unfortunately, frequent transfers of civil servants continue to be one of the most vexatious governance problems still facing India. It adversely affects governance because civil servants are not allowed to stay in a position long enough to acquire adequate knowledge and experience of their job, and an understanding of the milieu and culture in which they have to function and the problems they need to redress. They are unable to build the required mutual confidence and understanding which takes time to develop and is necessary for administrative leadership. It prevents civil servants from staying in a position long enough to institute or sustain reforms and it is both demoralising and demotivating when civil servants are not in a position long enough to see the fruits of their efforts which could be a source of enormous satisfaction to them. Frequent transfers and posting lead to lack of accountability and corruption.”
The report noted that the situation was worse in the state governments.
The ARC is of the view that a Central Civil Services Authority should be formed and it should be charged with the responsibility of fixing the tenure for all civil service posts under the Union government.
At present, the functions of the authority are envisaged as advisory under the provisions of the Draft Public Services Bill, 2007.
“This needs to be changed, and so far as the fixation of tenure is concerned, it is suggested that the decision of the authority should be binding on the government. The authority should also be given the responsibility to monitor postings and place before Parliament a periodic evaluation of the actual average tenure for each post and for the Central government as a whole,” the ARC report said.