Issues in IAS cadre management – UPSC GS2

Context: The Centre has proposed amendments to 6(1) of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) (Cadre) Rules of 1954 in order to exercise greater control in the central deputation of IAS officials.
What are the IAS (Cadre) Rules?
  • A unique feature of All India Services -Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS) and Indian Foreign Service (IFS), created under the AIS Act, 1951, is that the members of these services are recruited by the Central Government and are placed under various State Cadres.
  • To ensure the service of IAS officers at the Centre, suitable provisions have been made under the IAS (Cadre) Rules, 1954.
  • The actual number of officers to be deputed to the Central Government shall be decided by the Centre in consultation with the State Government concerned.
Recent changes in cadre rules:
  • The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has proposed changes in the IAS (Cadre) Rules, 1954, which will take away the states’ power to override the Centre’s request for seeking officers on central deputation.
  • This move was taken because the number of officers available under central deputation is not sufficient to meet the Centre’s requirement and there is a shortage of mid-level IAS officers, especially Deputy Secretaries and Directors.
  • States like Tamil Nadu and West Bengal were not forwarding the names of even the willing IAS officers to the centre.
Causes of Shortage:
  • Reduction in annual recruitment:
    • The first and foremost cause of the shortage is the reduction in the annual recruitment of IAS officers post-1991 (from 140-160 to just 50-80). There was a misguided notion that the government will have a reduced role due to economic liberalization.
    • As of January 1, 2021, the shortage of IAS officers stood at 23%. There should be an increase in the annual recruitment of IAS officers to around 200 for a few years as a short-term solution.
  • Cadre Review:
    • There is a lack of cadre review. This is the process or exercise through which the centre and states jointly designate certain strategic posts in the states as the Cadre Posts and onboard them exclusively as IAS officers.
    • In states such as Tamil Nadu, posts like Commissioner of Disciplinary Proceedings, Commissioner of Archaeology, and Commissioner of Museums have been designated as cadre posts.
    • There is a need for a proper cadre review so that states will release many IAS officers from non-strategic posts and will resolve the issue of shortage.
  • Direct Recruitment:
    • The third cause is the discontinuance of the direct recruitment of officers to the Central secretariat service group B since 2000, and extreme delay in regular promotions of officers from the ranks in the Central Secretariat due to prolonged litigation since 2011.
    • These officers used to hold a sizeable number of Deputy Secretary/Director level posts in the Central Secretariat.
  • Non-utilization of State Civil Servants:
    • The centre is not fully utilizing the services of officers that have been appointed to the IAS by promotion or selection from the State Civil Services.
    • Around 2,250 officers within the age bracket of 35-55 years with immense field experience remain state-bound.
    • The government should make it mandatory for these officers to work for at least 2 years on the central deputation as Deputy Secretary/Directors immediately after their appointment to the IAS and their training at Mussoorie.
    • Their next promotion in their state cadre should be based on completing this mandatory time period of Central deputation.
    • Officers, more than 50 years of age should be exempted from this.
    • This will lead to solving the issue of shortage of Deputy Secretary/Director-level officers at the Centre in one stroke.
  • Administrative barriers:
    • There are many administrative barriers imposed by the Central government itself such as highly restrictive conditions, perverse incentives, annual lapsing of offer lists, long debarment periods, compulsory cooling-off periods, etc.
    • Expecting directly recruited IAS officers to work for at least two years as Deputy Secretaries/Directors between nine and 16 years of service for empanelment as joint Secretaries at the Centre is unwise because this is precisely the phase when they are working in posts with good job content, power, prestige and perks.
    • So, a large number of them do not go on Central deputation and fail to get empanelled as Joint Secretaries, which automatically eliminates them from future empanelment as Additional Secretaries and Secretaries.
Proposed Solution:
  • Mandatory Central Deputation:
    • It is suggested that directly recruited IAS officers should mandatorily serve at least three years on Central Deputation between nine and 25 years of service.
    • Their promotion to the post of Principal Secretary grade in their respective state cadres should be subjected to completion of this mandatory period.
    • This will lead the IAS officers to opt for the Central deputation at their convenience and the centre will also have the benefit of an adequate supply of Deputionists.
  • Direct Selection:
    • The centre should directly choose the Joint Secretaries, Additional Secretaries, and Secretaries from among the IAS officers who are at the equivalent level or grades in state governments through a process of selection in the same way it selects Deputy Secretaries/Directors.
    • This will enable the availability of a larger and better pool of talent to the centre and also provide the officers to use their experiences gained at the state level in the services of the Central government.
Way Forward:
  • The shortfall in CDR obligations is not a problem that the Cabinet Secretary cannot solve by having a constructive dialogue with all the Chief Secretaries, or the Prime Minister cannot solve by holding a meeting with all the Chief Ministers.
  • The Inter-State Council constituted under Article 263 of the Constitution is the institution meant specifically for handling such Centre-State situations.
  • The proposed amendments are not necessary to resolve the problem of shortage. The centre should think about the alternatives.
  • The principle of cooperative federalism and interests of national unity should be promoted and protected.
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