The government may miss the December-end deadline set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to empanel officers of Group A services to hold joint secretary (JS) posts in central ministries and departments.
In June, Modi had directed cadre-controlling authorities of the three-dozen services allowed to hold senior posts at central ministries to complete the empanelment process for all officers up to the 1995 batch as soon as possible.
The deadline of December 31 was also fixed to complete the process.
If implemented, the decision would have helped tide over a shortage of civil servants willing to serve at the Centre at the JS-level.
It is not that there is a real shortage of officers, particularly from among the non-IAS services, but the IAS lobby that mans all top posts faces accusations that it used the empanelment process as a glass ceiling to create artificial shortage.
In principle, the empanelment process was introduced in the seventies to ensure that only the best officers were able to compete for a slot in central ministries.
In practice, however, it became another instrument to ensure that officers from non-IAS services stayed out. This was done by slowing down the empanelment for non-IAS services.
So, if a 1990 revenue or forest service officer wants to join the Centre, he will have to work as a director because the batch has not been empanelled as a JS. And an IAS officer — seven years his junior — could be his boss.
A revenue service official who joined a central ministry in the hope that he too would move up the hierarchy said there were vested interests at play, a reference to the IAS lobby.
A common excuse cited to explain the delay in empanelment was that they were slow to complete the necessary formalities. But a forest service officer insisted this was a “ruse”, asking how the IAS-led bureaucracy was so efficient to complete their paperwork, but not other services.
Officials said the artificial shortage of JS-level officers would continue since there was no way that the Centre would be able to complete empanelment of hundreds of officers. In the past three months, only 170-odd non-IAS officers have been empanelled.