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Lateral Entry into administrative services: Meant to boost Indian Administration?

NITI Aayog

The government recently appointed nine private sector specialists as joint secretaries in various departments through lateral hiring. Lateral entry means the appointment of specialists from the private sector in government organisations.

Many lateral entrants such as Dr. Manmohan Singh, Dr. Arvind Subramanian, Shri Montek Ahluwalia etc. in the bureaucratic machinery, which is also the permanent executive body of India, have added outstanding achievements to state without causing any controversies or hindrances in the current skeleton of administration.

The idea considering lateral entry into the administrative services came formally into being, in the Niti Ayog’s document of Three Year Action Agenda in 2017 as a recommendation in governance reform.
There’s no doubt that some major issues require expert intervention such as disinvestment of Air India, twin balance sheet problem, agriculture sector reforms, liquidity crisis of NBFCs etc., but we must assess the pros and cons of the introduction of lateral entry.

PROS:

• Will boost the efficiency of bureaucracy, for expertise in desired sectors will serve better. It is worth noting if this boost would be exponential or not.
• Achieving competitive public sector services on par with global best practices would not remain a farfetched dream
• This may also help in channelizing the best talents of the country and prevent brain drain.
• The fixed tenure (as recommended by NITI Ayog) will bring dynamism in various ministries.

FEAR PROJECTIONS:

• A Step of this kind might cause conflict of interest in officers and lateral entrants.
• Policy-making is in itself an arena, that requires specialisation, maybe a brief training will compensate for the same.
• 3 years of service with 2 years extension period might not be enough to achieve objectives of national level.
• A comprehensive structure-based policy regarding lateral entrants isn’t in place yet.
• Moreover, the exact data of vacancies has been lacking from various ministries.

To achieve the objective of achieving a charismatic public sector, a number of more reforms could be made, or the lateral entrant scheme could be made more comprehensive.

Civil Servants may be encouraged to gain expertise and their rotation of services may be minimised for the same considering they fulfil predefined eligibility criteria. An efficient executive can also be achieved by outsourcing service delivery in the knowledge sector. Intensive training for civil servants can be organised to equip them for their chosen area of specialisation. This doesn’t mean totally ruling out the lateral entry for experts, highly specialised staff on fixed-term contracts can be employed.

Government machineries and various ministries should be more responsible and specific in sending the demands of expert staff. Lastly and most importantly, a comprehensive policy framework regarding the process of recruitment, salary, allowances, tenure and job profile should be formulated to avoid confusion and conflict.
Overall, lateral entries in bureaucracy will boost the efficiency substantially if the target tasks are exploited judiciously.

The government recently appointed nine private sector specialists as joint secretaries in various departments through lateral hiring. Lateral entry means the appointment of specialists from the private sector in government organisations.

Many lateral entrants such as Dr. Manmohan Singh, Dr. Arvind Subramanian, Shri Montek Ahluwalia etc. in the bureaucratic machinery, which is also the permanent executive body of India, have added outstanding achievements to state without causing any controversies or hindrances in the current skeleton of administration.

The idea considering lateral entry into the administrative services came formally into being, in the Niti Ayog’s document of Three Year Action Agenda in 2017 as a recommendation in governance reform.

There’s no doubt that some major issues require expert intervention such as disinvestment of Air India, twin balance sheet problem, agriculture sector reforms, liquidity crisis of NBFCs etc., but we must assess the pros and cons of introduction of lateral entry.

PROS:

• A Step of this kind might cause conflict of interest in officers and lateral entrants.

• Policy-making is in itself an arena, that requires specialisation, maybe a brief training will compensate for the same.

• 3 years of service with 2 years extension period might not be enough to achieve objectives of national level.

• A comprehensive structure based policy regarding lateral entrants isn’t in place yet.

• Moreover, the exact data of vacancies has been lacking from various ministries.

To achieve the objective of achieving a charismatic public sector, a number of more reforms could be made, or the lateral entrant scheme could be made more comprehensive. Civil Servants may be encouraged to gain expertise and their rotation of services may be minimised for the same considering they fulfil a predefined eligibility criteria.

An efficient executive can also be achieved by outsourcing service delivery in the knowledge sector. Intensive training for civil servants can be organised to equip them for their chosen area of specialisation. This doesn’t mean totally ruling out the lateral entry for experts, highly specialised staff on fixed term contracts can be employed. Government machineries and various minitries should be more responsible and specific in sending the demands of expert staff. Lastly and most importantly, a comprehensive policy framework regarding the process of recruitment, salary, allowances, tenure and job profile should be formulated to avoid confusion and conflict.
Overall, lateral entries in bureaucracy will boost the efficiency substantially if the target tasks are exploited judiciously.

There’s no doubt that some major issues require expert intervention such as disinvestment of Air India, twin balance sheet problem, agriculture sector reforms, liquidity crisis of NBFCs etc., but we must assess the pros and cons of the introduction of lateral entry.

FEAR PROJECTIONS:

• A Step of this kind might cause a conflict of interest in officers and lateral entrants.

• Policy-making is in itself an arena, that requires specialisation, maybe a brief training will compensate for the same.

• 3 years of service with 2 years extension period might not be enough to achieve objectives of national level.

• A comprehensive structure-based policy regarding lateral entrants isn’t in place yet.

• Moreover, the exact data of vacancies has been lacking from various ministries.

To achieve the objective of achieving a charismatic public sector, a number of more reforms could be made, or the lateral entrant scheme could be made more comprehensive.

Civil Servants may be encouraged to gain expertise and their rotation of services may be minimised for the same considering they fulfil predefined eligibility criteria. An efficient executive can also be achieved by outsourcing service delivery in the knowledge sector. Intensive training for civil servants can be organised to equip them for their chosen area of specialisation. This doesn’t mean totally ruling out the lateral entry for experts, highly specialised staff on fixed-term contracts can be employed.

Government machineries and various ministries should be more responsible and specific in sending the demands of expert staff. Lastly and most importantly, a comprehensive policy framework regarding the process of recruitment, salary, allowances, tenure and job profile should be formulated to avoid confusion and conflict.
Overall, lateral entries in bureaucracy will boost the efficiency substantially if the target tasks are exploited judiciously.

Anusha Mishra- The Reportist

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