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Senior Management Pool and merger of services may open sea of opportunities: NFU expert committee makes striking recommendations

The High-Level Expert Committee headed by Dr Ratan P Watal (Retd IAS:1979:AP) to examine various aspects of Non Functional Upgradation (NFU) submitted its report to DoPT last week. Its members were K V Eapen (IAS:1984:AM); Rajnikant Mishra (IAS:1984:UP); S N Agarwal (Member- Staff, Railway Board); Anthony Lianzuala (ICAS:1982), Controller General of Accounts; R K Chaturvedi (IAS:1987:MP) Member (Convenor); and Ms. Annie George Mathew (IA&AS:1988), Jt Secretary (Pers), Representative of Secretary, Expenditure. Indianmandarins has reliably learnt that in addition to examining the administrative issues pertaining to the OGAS and NFU, the Committee has made various recommendations which, once considered and implemented, may transform the prevalent provisions in terms of deputation, integration, promotion, career progression. In addition to NFU (presently admissible to IPS/IFoS and other organised group A services) it had to suggest a clear definition of OGAS (Organised Group A Service) to make clear distinction in the process of cadre review and the procedure for grant of OGAS. In fact, many services are ailing as empanelment and promotion becomes choked after a certain period. The career graph goes smooth as Junior Time Scale, Super Time Scale, Junior Administrative Grade, and Non-Functional Senior Grade are all time-bound promotions. The moment it enters 16th year of service forming the cutting edge (SAG) the career prospects are shrunk. SAG (JS level) posts have been subject to vacancy, APAR, DPC, CVC, and ACC approval which are quite cumbersome and time consuming process. Further, court cases pertaining to seniority and promotion adds to apathy. For example, for years IRS (C&CE) cadre are given SAG scale on an ad-hoc basis, hundreds of CSS cadre officers too are given promotion on an ad-hoc basis. To counter these issues, the Expert Committee recommendations aim at breaking the barriers and opening up wide avenues for all Group A, Group B Central Services. Significant recommendations may be summarised as follows: A Senior Management Pool(SAG and above) comprising all services may be created under the supervision of UPSC only to ensure competence.The Senior Management Pool (SMP) may replace the prevailing Central Staffing Scheme (CSS) genesis of which lies in the Central Pool which was conceptualized and recommended in 1966.Senior Management Pool would further facilitate Reverse deputation which will further widen the career opportunity. Until now All India Service (AIS) and Central Services (Group A & Group B) officers come from respective cadres to Centre on deputation for a specified period but reverse deputation framework will allow central ministries and state governments to pick them on deputation irrespective of cadre and services. Further, AIS officers may get the opportunity to serve in other states which is now possible only after a cumbersome process of inter-cadre deputation. For appointment up to Joint Secretary (SAG) level posts, it may not require ACC approval. Rather, concerned administrative ministries may issue posting orders as it happens in the case of IA&AS, Indian Foreign Service and few others. It emphasises on integration. Indian Trade Service (ITS) may be merged with other similarly mandated services. Accounts services like IRAS, ICAS, PT&TA&FS, IA&AS, and IDAS may be merged together to bring uniformity as anti-dote to career stagnation.A time-bound cadre review every five year would not allow choking of empanelment and promotion.Vigilance clearance may be streamlined and made fast to streamline the cadre reviewSubjudiced matters relating to cadre review and promotion may be resolved as soon as possible. It is also understood that the intent of the OGAS may be to create entry barriers for IPS officers in CPMFs but actually, it may not. However, CPMF cadres may get a fair share in DIG and above posts. Reportedly, NFU is to be removed finally but it’ll remain an interim arrangement until a robust framework comes in existence. NFU paves way for pay protection when officers come from their cadre and state on central deputation.

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